Not everyone likes to be found on the Internet and wants to be easily googled. If you feel misrepresented by reports on the Internet, you can take the legal route. Then it is possible to ask Google to remove search hits for such websites. However, this is linked to a condition that is required for successful deletion, as the Federal Court of Justice has now ruled.
Case law of the BGH: Google must then take action
The judgment of the Federal Court of Justice concerned a couple from the financial services industry who did not want their names to be searched for on a website of a US company on Google. This company has made it its mission “to make a lasting contribution to fraud prevention in business and society through active education and transparency”.
According to the BGH in 2015, several critical articles about an investment model of the plaintiff appeared on the company’s website. Photos of the plaintiff are said to have been used. There are also allegations that the US company is blackmailing those affected with a kind of “protection money” so that the articles are deleted again or negative reporting is prevented. According to the plaintiff, this is also what happened. The defendant, in this case Google, was therefore asked to no longer display the items in question when searching for the name of the plaintiff, as well as the photos that were used as thumbnails.
Google then did not remove the search results on the grounds that it was unable to assess whether the plaintiff’s allegations against the US company were justified or not. The Federal Court of Justice had now issued a judgment in this case and ruled in favor of the plaintiff on one point, but otherwise agreed with Google. In one article, for example, the necessary reference to the person of the plaintiff is said to have been missing. For other articles, the latter failed to provide evidence to show that false information had been disseminated in those articles.
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However, Google was asked to no longer display the thumbnails in the search results. “Displaying the plaintiffs’ photos, which are not meaningful in themselves, as preview images without any context was not justified,” was the reasoning of the BGH. According to this judgment, Google does not have to determine itself whether certain search results contain false information about the plaintiff. Rather, the plaintiff must explain whether demonstrably false information was spread in order to force a successful deletion of the search results.
Source: Federal Court of Justice
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