BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google is subject to EU privacy law but is not obliged to delete sensitive information from its search index, an adviser to the EU's highest court said on Tuesday in a case that tests whether people can erase harmful content from the Web.
Niilo Jaaskinen, an advocate general of the European Court of Justice, said that companies operating in the EU must adhere to national data protection legislation, but that did not oblige them to remove personal content produced by others.
"Search engine service providers are not responsible, on the basis of the Data Protection Directive, for personal data appearing on Web pages they process," the court said in a statement communicating Jaaskinen's opinion.
The opinion follows a complaint by a Spanish man that an auction notice of his home after it was repossessed infringes his privacy and should be deleted from Google search.
A final judgment on the case is expected before the end of the year. A that they cannot delete lawful content and that freedom of speech should outweighs privacy in such cases.
The European Court of Justice is not bound by the advocate general's opinion, but judges follow the recommendations in the majority of cases.
(Reporting By Claire Davenport; editing by Robert Merrifield)