FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2019, file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michel Euler

Judge sides with privacy watchdog on Google searches in ‘right to be forgotten’ case

OTTAWA — A federal judge says the results of Google searches are covered by the law governing how companies handle personal information, a victory for people seeking a digital “right to be forgotten.”

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien referred the matter to the Federal Court after a man alleged Google was breaching Canada’s privacy law by prominently displaying links about him when his name is searched.

He said the articles were inaccurate and disclosed sensitive information about his sexual orientation and a serious medical condition, causing him direct harm.

The man asked Google to remove the articles in question from the results for searches of his name, but Google declined, suggesting instead that he contact the publishers of the news items.

In her newly issued ruling, Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagne says federal privacy law applies when Google indexes web pages and presents search results in response to searches of a person’s name.

The commissioner’s investigations into complaints related to search results were put on hold pending the outcome of the court reference.