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Dutch Court Forces Google to Remove Dutch Surgeon From ‘Unofficial Blacklist’

By Nitish Singh / January 22, 2019

The European Union established the “right to be forgotten” rule almost five years ago that allows citizens the right to have search results connected to them removed. A Dutch surgeon who received disciplinary action has used the ruling to get search results connected to the incident removed from Google.

The surgeon was initially suspended due to her medical negligence by a disciplinary panel due to her postoperative care of a patient. However, she filed an appeal, and the punishment was changed to that of a conditional suspension which allowed her to continue practicing. Google’s search results do not represent the change in decision accurately.

According to the surgeon, entering her name in Google’s search engine leads to the first results talking about her initial suspension and also links to an unofficial blacklist. Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, which is the Dutch data privacy watchdog rejected her claims and so did Google but seeking assistance from the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling set in place by the EU helped her case.

The Amsterdam district court declared that the surgeon had “an interest in not indicating that every time someone enters their full name in Google’s search engine, (almost) immediately the mention of her name appears on the ‘blacklist of surgeons’, and this importance adds more weight than the public’s interest in finding this information in this way”.

The case was closed by the court in July, but the news became publicly known only recently. Google will now have to take down thousands of pages from its search results that are linked to the suspension. Over 3 million people have sought assistance from the “right to be forgotten” ruling, but this is the first time that a case of medical negligence has been dealt with according to public records.

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