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Google Begins to Erase History, First Right to be Forgotten Links Removed


This week Google began deleting links to comply with the EU right to be forgotten decision. So far it appears that links being removed may not necessarily be in the spirit of the court decision.

The ruling left some room for interpretation saying that there needs to be a balance between public interest and the impact that such information can have on people’s lives. One of the first links removed was a BBC article about the former CEO of Merrill Lynch. In the mid 2000s he was at the bank when the mortgage crisis began. Merrill lost a lot of money; Stan O’Neal lost his job but left with a $161.5 million settlement. There is nothing incorrect in the article yet Google removed the link.

According to a report by Business Insider, fears about the ruling are coming to fruition: “[Google] is censoring the internet, giving new tools that help the rich and powerful (and ordinary folk) hide negative information about them, and letting criminals make their histories disappear.”

As the author of the Merrill Lynch article, Robert Petson of the BBC feels he is being censored. In a response to the removal of the link from European search results (this link will still be available in search results outside the EU) he stated, “What it means is that a blog I wrote in 2007 will no longer be findable when searching on Google in Europe.Which means that to all intents and purposes the article has been removed from the public record, given that Google is the route to information and stories for most people. So why has Google killed this example of my journalism?”

Although the BBC received the notice that the link is being removed, it still remains available in results as of yesterday.

Guy Clapperton at Forbes said that publicizing this particular link removal could be a strategic move on Google’s part to demonstrate the flaws of the decision. Google was against the ruling.

“Google opposed the idea but the courts overruled it, which is why going for Peston and the BBC was actually a brilliant move. We’re a small island here with a national broadcaster, paid for by the State but rigorously independent. Peston is one of our leading journalists,” Clapperton said. “He of all people was bound to make one hell of an unholy fuss when his valid work was airbrushed out of history, and he has a major platform from which to make his disquiet felt.”

His further point is that small businesses in the US rely on Google for research. The potential impact of EU businesses having links removed they simply don’t like is the inability for those wishing to do business in the EU to do good research.

“If the ruling falls apart, good. I’m not in favor of people rewriting history because they wish they hadn’t said or done something. In the meantime, if you or your company need to research anything in Europe, remember that until further notice if you use Google then through no fault of the search engine itself, the facts may have been doctored.” said Clapperton.

The Guardian also feels it is being censored. So far links to 6 articles have been removed. “Publishers must fight back against this indirect challenge to press freedom, which allows articles to be ‘disappeared’. Editorial decisions belong with them, not Google.”

Three of the article links from the Guardian that were deleted are in relation to Dougie McDonald. He is a retired Scottish Premier League referee who lied about a penalty in a match and had to resign. The other articles were from 2002, 2011 and an entire week of indexed articles. No reasons were given by Google for the deletions, just an automated notification.

“The Guardian has no form of appeal against parts of its journalism being made all but impossible for most of Europe’s 368 million to find. The strange aspect of the ruling is all the content is still there: if you click the links in this article, you can read all the “disappeared” stories on this site. No one has suggested the stories weren’t true, fair or accurate. But still they are made hard for anyone to find.”

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  1. Susie

    Starting in Jan. 2015, the Eu courts will have ownership of the Internet, courtesy of our corrupt government. Obama, and Congress, sold the rights to the ownership of the Internet to the International Court. It will no longer be under the jurisdiction of our Constitution. They can censor it in any fashion they choose, and no one can stop them. They own it out right. This is just the beginning of re-writing history, friends. One World Gov. is here to stay. This is no different then the Nazi's burning books, in an attempt to re-write history. In this case, it is the Internet.

  2. Kenneth Simmons

    The fact that Google says that it is only following an EU court ruling is simply an excuse to bend to the will of the European Union so they don't lose millions of dollars in advertising by ignoring the ruling and standing up for freedom of the press which is the backbone of the world wide web and its inter-connective files of news not only from the past but of news stories that are breaking the long ago mysteries and newly released news the is breaking at the speed of light. Google has set in motion a bending and tweaking of factual historic news reports by removal of these links simply because someone doesn't like what they say! There is no excuse when it comes too what amounts as censorship by not allowing certain unwanted stories because of what they reveal about the dirty laundry one might reveal about certain happenings in European history.

  3. Andrea

    The internet is not the history books. Google is definitely not the keeper of information. If something is valid or needs to be available until the end of time put it in a book.

  4. JimfromBham

    Other unintended consequences could flow from the right to be forgotten concept. Apparently, nothing requires all search engines to eliminate information uniformly. Consequently, Google might become viewed as an unreliable search engine because lawyers, and others who value accuracy would turn to other search engines to find articles about those who Google eliminated.

    • Anthony Boiardi

      I guess you have never been made ridule of, lied about, gossip passed about you in chat room forums, called a thief a con person or untrutworthy by people just out to cause you harm. Until you are at the end of the harm and you see the consequences such as lost promotions, wives leaving you, family sniggering at you friends shunning you you won't really understand the ruling. The fact that Courts still hold up the anonymity principal in much of the world especially in the USA means that innocent people ahve their lives ruined by malicious twits. The fact that I can call you a child molester and your wife a whore with no fact behind it and I am protected under the law, that the web hosting company cannot be held liable for the publishing act of a poster, that the courts protect me and not you, exactly what recourse do you want to clear your name. It is not jsut the rich and powerful that want to be forgotten. Google my name, see what comes up Anthony Boiardi, yet I am the family of Chef Boyardee, yet fools from India can besmerch my name and websites protected. Be careful what you ultimately wish for when it comes to freedoms !

      • Mad Mack

        We all must live the consequences of our choices. If we made a foolish or criminal choice, oh well. Get used to being sniggered at for doing something foolish.

  5. Don

    1984 who could ask for more?

  6. DoktorThomas™

    Finally, a valid reason to move to the EU. For the wealthy, expatriation is all the rage. Thwarting Google is a cognitive plan. ©2014