A week ago, Google started the process of taking down search results following a recent EU High Court ruling in May. The European Court of Justice overturned a decision, deciding that search engines had to respect people’s “right to be forgotten”. Now it’s in full swing, Google has begun to remove links to news articles, facts and censor journalists’ works.
Google and other search engines now have to obey users’ requests to have information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.
The issue was brought about when a Spanish man challenged Google, and argued that their results infringed his privacy. Old search results were basically giving him a bad name – Google held results from 1998, showing that his home was being sold for social security debts. Google called the move “disappointing” at the time and tried to work around it, but is now faced with the full brunt of so-called ‘European justice’.
Ironically, the EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, said the move was a “clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans”, however at the cost of freedom of information and continental censorship.
Now, in an unbelievable move by the American search engine, links to news articles by the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent have been targeted. These (mostly) reputable sources have had articles taken down regarding the disgraced former chairman of Merrill Lynch, Stan O’Neal, and dodgy Scottish referee, Dougie McDonald. Both had excessive media attention when O’Neal pushed Merrill Lynch towards the 2007 banking collapse and McDonald was surrounded in controversy regarding a penalty. Instead of us knowing the truths to their history, they’d much rather have their
stupid incompetence past sponged from the internet and pretend nothing ever happened because a bunch of ill-informed, clueless, half-brained judges The European Court of Justice rules it OK.
The ruling by Europe has forced Google to create a new form to process the requests and hire a whole new team. Initially, Google was flooded with requests, mostly from France – but now says they’ve become consistent at around 1,000 a day. Google had opposed the ruling, but seems to now have gone about implementation in a rather awkward manner. If you’d like to scrub out your history, you can visit this form here.
As critics feared, this unworkable ruling is likely to threaten freedom of expression and freedom of speech. The BBC article contained no more than reported facts, and Robert Peston (the writer) has already hit out against the decision, writing that Google had “killed this example of my journalism”. With such a lack of information available as to who requested these removals, only an email from Google saying:
Notice of removal from Google Search: we regret to inform you that we are no longer able to show the following pages from your website in response to certain searches on European versions of Google.
No wonder people are starting to get concerned. Europe has a string of laws, rules and directives that are sometimes complicated to implement. This is one of them. It’s not effective and is being used inappropriately to remove content people wish to avoid or ‘forget’. In these cases, I beg to differ. The article is still relevant in the case of O’Neal – surely you’d want to know if you were hiring someone who helped start a banking crisis.
It’s not effective and isn’t efficient. You can easily work around this block by just searching via ‘Google.com’. Europe isn’t helping protect user’s privacy, but forcing companies to censor the internet.
Google has since amended some of there mistakes surrounding The Independent’s articles.
Featured image courtey of Mikkel Rønne Flickr