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‘Right to be forgotten’ by Google back-firing hilariously as media run stories on the censorship

Google sets up data removal webform

Well-known figures taking advantage of Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, in which Google and other search engines are required to remove links to sensitive information deemed ‘out-dated or irrelevant’, are not quite getting the results they hoped for. Google is choosing to notify the media when links to stories are removed, and the British media is responding by running stories on the censorship – putting the subjects of the removed links back in the news once more … 

The BBC’s Robert Peston wrote a story on the delinking of a blog post about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal being “forced out of Merrill after the investment bank suffered colossal losses on reckless investments it had made.” The piece kicks off with a link to the original story. (In an interesting twist, it turns out that the request may have come from someone mentioned in the comments rather than from O’Neal.)

The Guardian wrote a similar piece about the removal of links to a story about soccer referee Dougie McDonald “who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match, the backlash to which prompted his resignation.”

The Daily Mail joined in the fun with a reference to the same story, though the “couple caught having sex on a Virgin train” and other non-public figures were not named.

The European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in May that individuals have a right to require Google to remove sensitive information from search results. Google responded by creating a webpage allowing people to request removal and shortly afterwards began acting on them.

Its decision to notify the media about such removals seems the perfect response: complying with the law while at the same time rendering it counter-productive for public figures to take advantage of it.

(Photo credit: Huffington Post)

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