Doctor Wins Right to Keep Name Out of Google Search

Ruling in Dutch 'right to be forgotten' case said to be 'groundbreaking'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2019 2:11 PM CST
Doctor Wins Right to Keep Name Out of Google Search
This July 19, 2016, file photo shows the Google logo at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

A surgeon has secured what her lawyer calls a "groundbreaking" victory in a case in the Netherlands. The Guardian reports that an Amsterdam district court has ruled that the doctor, who's still practicing under a conditional suspension after some postoperative issues with a patient, can force Google to remove search results about her case that pop up. It's said to be the first "right to be forgotten" case involving a doctor's medical negligence, with the court noting that the "importance" of keeping the doctor's name off a "blacklist"—a website among the first search results on Google when looking up the doctor's name, and one that suggests she shouldn't be treating patients—"adds more weight than the public's interest in finding this information" on the search engine.

The judge in the case said that, despite the surgeon's misfires in 2014 (it's not specified what those misfires were), the doctor's initial suspension was modified to a conditional one in which she was allowed to keep working. However, that was not reflected on the blacklist, which suggested she was unfit to practice. "The disciplinary committee is not meant to be about punishment. It is meant to be correcting the doctor's mistake so they can do the job next time," the surgeon's lawyer says. The Verge notes the "right to be forgotten" ruling came down in the EU in 2014, and that more than 1 million URLS have been yanked from Google's search results since. (More Google search stories.)

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