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'I'm Happy,' Says Man Whose Case Changed Europe's Rules For Google

The Spanish man whose court battle against Google resulted in a European court ruling in his favor – and for the "right to be forgotten" – says he is pleased with the case's outcome.

Mario Costeja Gonzalez had been upset that old and damaging information about him came up in a search. The European Court of Justice sided with Costeja Tuesday, ruling that Internet search engines are responsible for the information they display. The case started after Costeja did a Google search of his own name; the results showed notices about financial troubles he had back in 1998.

From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports for our Newscast unit:

"Mario Costeja Gonzalez had his home repossessed 16 years ago. If you Google his name, you can still see newspaper stories about his debts.

" 'It hurts my reputation,' he says in Spanish. 'My debts are long paid, but those links were the first thing you'd see.'

"He sued, and won. The European Court of Justice says Google must edit some search results, if people like Mario Costeja request it.

"Costeja says he's pleased — that he's always considered Google a 'great tool' — and he says now it's even better.

"The search giant disagrees and says altering search results amounts to censorship."

Costeja tells The Guardian that he doesn't want Google to purge all of its records about people.

"I was fighting for the elimination of data that adversely affects people's honor, dignity and exposes their private lives," he says. "Everything that undermines human beings, that's not freedom of expression."

Costeja would not reveal how much the legal fight against Google had cost him.

"Like anyone would be when you tell them they're right, I'm happy," he said.

According to The Guardian, the case will be used as a precedent in more than 200 cases pending in Spain's court system; in many of them, plaintiffs are asking for links to be deleted.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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