Alphabet unit Google (GOOGL.O) must remove data from online search results if users can prove it is inaccurate, Europe's top court said on Thursday.
Free speech advocates and supporters of privacy rights have clashed in recent years over people's "right to be forgotten" online, meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the internet.
The case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerned two executives from a group of investment companies who had asked Google to remove search results linking their names to certain articles criticising the group's investment model.
They also wanted Google to remove thumbnail photos of them from search results. The company rejected the requests, saying it did not know whether the information in the articles was accurate or not.
A German court subsequently sought advice from the CJEU on the balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and information.
"The operator of a search engine must de-reference information found in the referenced content where the person requesting de-referencing proves that such information is manifestly inaccurate," the Court of Justice of the European Union said.