Netherlands / Amsterdam Court of Appeal / 200.057.048/01 Appellant v Google Netherlands B.V. and Google Inc.

Key facts of the case:

The appellant is prosecuted for hiring an assassin. He has been convicted but has appealed the decision. News media have covered the case and people can find out detailed information using Google Search and typing the name of appellant. The appellant demands that this data is erased or corrected, relying on the Data Protection Act in particular, which ensures the privacy of personal data. 

Outcome of the case:

The Court of Appeal feels that the appellant is not entitled to the protection of his personal data, as he has, among other things, hired the assassin in cold blood, as was shown in a television programme (images having been made with a hidden camera) and as there is tremendous public upheaval. The Court of Appeal holds that the public at large has sufficient interest in being able to access the information, so that this prevails over the criminal’s privacy (public interest).

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 


3.5. In its judgment, the Court takes the following perspective. Each person involved has the right of correction, erasure, or protection of data if they have been processed in a way which is irreconcilable with Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (hereinafter: the Data Protection Directive). Being irreconcilable may not only be due to the fact that the date is inaccurate, but also inadequate, not to the point, or superfluous in view of the aims of their processing, because it has not been kept up to date, or because it is retained longer than necessary. The person involved may on the basis of their fundamental rights, laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter on the Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter: the Charter) demand that information referring to him or her is no longer made available to the public at large by means of laying them down in a list of results. However, this will not be the case if the interference in the fundamental rights of the person involved due to special reasons, such as the role that this person plays in public life, is justified by the prevailing interests of the public to get access to the information. This follows from the above-mentioned case Google vs Costeja. Reliance of the appellant on the Data Protection Act, which has been enacted to implement the Data Protection Directive, should be seen in this light.

3.6. The Court finds that the appellant is prosecuted for a serious criminal act and has been convicted in the first instance. It is true that the appellant appealed against the decision, but he has not introduced any facts in the present lawsuit that change one’s views on the existence of the existing sentence. For the time being it should therefore be assumed that the publications which, as usual, have been the result of the public interest in this case, are due to the appellant’s own behaviour. The public generally has a major interest in being able to access information about serious crimes and therefore also about the prosecution and sentencing of the appellant. 

Deciding body (original language): 
Gerechtshof Amsterdam