Google scrubs articles of BBC, The Guardian. Hello, EU. Goodbye press freedom?

By Anu Passary, Tech Times | July 3, 8:53 AM

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Barely a week after popular search engine Google put into action the EU regulation under the data protection law of "right to be forgotten," Europeans are discovering the flip side to the ruling.

On Wednesday, July 2, British newspaper The Guardian reported that six of its articles had been scrubbed by Google.co.uk. This included an article pertaining to a controversy which resulted in the retirement of a soccer referee.

"Three of the articles, dating from 2010, relate to a now-retired Scottish Premier League 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," reported The Guardian.

Interestingly, when one searches for "Dougie McDonald" into Google.com, the three articles pop up.

The Guardian is not the only one who has suffered scrubbing of articles at the hands of Google.  Robert Peston, a columnist at BBC, too reported that an article written in 2007 pertaining to then-Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal leaving the company post massive losses was missing from Google search even though it was available on BBC.

Peston received an email from Google informing him of the removal from Google Search. The email read as follows:

"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:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/thereporters/robertpeston/2007/10/merrills_mess.htm"

So why was the post removed? Simply because someone who was the topic of discussion in the article asked Google to "forget" them, to which the search engine obliged in compliance with the EU Court of Justice's ruling on May 13. Per Google Search, any information considered to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive" could be eradicated per the individual's right.

Peston defends his article saying that the concerned post did not externally attack O'Neal, and was not "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant." Peston intends to appeal his redacted post.

Even though the Google Search's "forgetting" process is at a nascent stage, it is raising concerns among journalists that freedom of press is being undermined.

 

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