Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Dutch surgeon who was suspended for medical negligence wins 'right to be forgotten' case against Google

What about the public's right to know?

A Dutch surgeon who was disciplined for medical negligence has won a landmark 'right to be forgotten' case against Google.

The decision means search results for the negligence case will be removed after it emerged patients found her on an 'unofficial blacklist' after typing in her name to the search engine. 

The district court of Amsterdam ruled in July last year 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 doctors".

'And this importance adds more weight than the public's interest in finding this information in this way.'

The doctor's was initially suspended by a disciplinary panel because of her postoperative care of a patient. After an appeal, she was given a conditional suspension under which she was allowed to continue to practise.

But Dutch courts heard how patients had found the blacklist on Google and discussed the case on a web forum - suggesting she was unfit to practise.

The surgeon's lawyer, Willem van Lynden, from the Amsterdam firm MediaMaze, said: 'Now they will have to bring down thousands of pages: that is what will happen, in my view.

The judge said that while the information on the website with reference to the failings of the doctor in 2014 was correct, the pejorative name of the blacklist site suggested she was unfit to treat people, and that was not supported by the disciplinary panel's findings.

The court further rejected Google's claim that most people would have difficulty in finding the relevant information on the medical board's Big-register, where the records are publicly held.

Google and the Dutch data privacy watchdog, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, initially rejected attempts to have the links removed on the basis that the doctor was still on probation and the information remained relevant.

The case was concluded in July but only made public in recent days after a dispute over whether the court's judgment itself should be published.



Anonymous said...

She probably is unfit.

Unknown said...

What is the Dutch Surgeon's name?