GAs a rule, oogle is not obliged to delete negative, but true reports about people from its search engine’s hit list after a few years. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) announced this judgment on Monday and thus legally dismissed a lawsuit. The public’s right to information outweighs the right of those affected to protect their personal data, the statement says.

The case concerned a Hessian welfare association that had got into financial difficulties and its managing director, who had recently announced sick leave. The regional press reported on both of these in 2011, citing the name of the managing director. He sued Google because when he entered his name, the press articles appeared in the hit list.

Like the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt, the BGH now legally rejected the lawsuit. The event is of considerable public interest. The BGH ruled that the managing director’s illness was reported without further details, and therefore his right to personality was not violated.

The period of seven years was also no reason for deleting the reports. Not so much time has passed here that the public’s interest in information has taken a back seat. Overall, however, it must be considered in each individual case whether the right to personality or the right of the public to information should be rated higher.

However, the BGH submitted a second case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling. Because there the content of truth of the report listed in the hit list by Google is controversial. A number of articles appeared on the website of a US company in 2015 that critically examined the investment model of a financial service provider operating in Germany.

The contributions were illustrated with photos of the operators. There is controversy about the veracity of the reports. The ECJ should now clarify who has to prove in such cases whether the report is true or false – Google or the person concerned.

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