The Right To Be Forgotten law enacted by the European Union was not happily received by Google. However, the company is complying…a lot.
When your site is removed from Google, it pretty much banishes you into obscurity. Any content not indexed by the site, unless otherwise placed on an onion directory (such as with the Tor network) is unlikely to get any real attention.
So when UK media outlets such as the BBC and Guardian started receiving notices that their stories were being removed, it caused an uproar. The stories were a mixed bag, with several (such as the investigation of a Merrill Lynch chairman) being highly relevant right now to the public interest, and others (French protesters and their post-it note decorations) confusingly included for no apparent reason.
But one obvious statement has been creeping up all over the web in the last couple of days: Google is doing this on purpose. Whether that is because they are trying to show that the law is really bad by making bad calls, thereby making the law look worst, or if it is just to comply to the point of causing bedlam so media outlets seek an overturn, it is impossible to say. Both arguments have been made, and both are possibilities.
Google denies this, of course. According to them, they are just having “teething pains”. Which is actually a kind of funny response to the whole thing. They might as well say, “Oops, is that what this button does? Silly me!” as they erase the stories.
At the moment, the stories being removed are very narrow ones that are related to the names in question. Whether it is those people in question who are requesting the removal themselves is hard to say right now. Google says they will “look into it”.
This law is a bit problematic, but it seemed to be in the beginning. On one hand, private citizens should have a right to privacy, and old stories shouldn’t have to impact their lives and cause embarrassment. In some cases, it may even make them unemployable, and with or without any proof behind the original content.
But the point being brought up is that it opens the company up to decide. They have made many questionable removals so far, which could have gone either way. In which case, it should have been up to the courts. But the law is just ambiguous enough that these kinds of controversies are sure to be growing in the coming months.
Source: The Guardian