Small earthquake, not many dead (yet)

The European Court of Justice decision in the Google case will have implications way beyond search engines. Regular readers of this blog will recall stories of banks hounding innocent people for money following payment disputes, and a favourite trick is to blacklist people with credit reference agencies, even while disputes are still in progress (or even after the bank has actually lost a court case). In the past, the Information Commissioner refused to do anything about this abuse, claiming that it’s the bank which is the data controller, not the credit agency. The court now confirms that this view was quite wrong. I have therefore written to the Information Commissioner inviting him to acknowledge this and to withdraw the guidance issued to the credit reference agencies by his predecessor.

I wonder what other information intermediaries will now have to revise their business models?

2 thoughts on “Small earthquake, not many dead (yet)

  1. We’ve been following this in Canada with interest, especially among the legal profession:

    The wording suggests any “information intermediary” doing “processing” of the information, such as to create a search-results page, should be required to take it down on request. If that is the case, other newspaper’s sites could be named in a future suit, then the newspapers themselves, any court-reporting sites like CanLII,, then Lexis Nexis for writing summaries, then Westlaw for publishing a looseleaf and so on.


  2. Re the reference agencies.
    I keep reading advice that “you can challenge incorrect information”. My experience of this, with a communications provider with a colourful name, is that they will ask the company that provided the false information if it’s correct – then turn around and say “we’ve checked with X and they say the information is correct – so we’re not removing it”.

    Then I read that if the agency refuses to correct/remove bad information you can have a notice added. Response to a request to add a notice of the form “This alleged debt is false, it is entirely due to X refusing to bill in accordance with the tariff sold” was “we won’t post defamatory statements”.

    So apparently it’s OK as long as the entity posting the defamatory information is a company, but if you want to add a correction that suggests the company is wrong then that’s not allowed. It nearly cost me getting a mortgage a few years ago.

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