Google 'right to be forgotten' activity draws scrutiny

By Quinten Plummer, Tech Times | July 3, 5:15 PM

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The controversy continues as Google begins processing request to be forgotten. The media calls for transparency on Google's methodology for deciding which requests to honor.
(Photo : Screenshot Courtesy of Google)

While it's near impossible for the Internet to forget anything, and some people will make it their business to see that it doesn't, Google has begun selectively responding to UK citizens's request to be forgotten.

After a European High Court ruled in favor of constituents' "right to be forgotten" by search engines in May of 2014, Google starting notifying content hosts it was removing material at the request of one or more parties. The notifications started going out during the week of June 28 through July 29.

Google has had well of 41,000 removal requests.

"We have recently started taking action on the removals requests we've received after the European Court of Justice decision," stated a Google spokesperson. "This is a new and evolving process for us. We'll continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as we comply with the ruling."

While fulfilled requests prevent the selected material from appearing in the European version of Google, Google.co.uk, the data can be called up from a search through other versions of the search engine.

The Guardian was said to be among the first to receive notifications that Google had wiped its search results of content the broadcast company had published. BBC spokesman expressed concern over the High Court's ruling and the implications the decision will have.

Of the most prominent concerns raised against the ruling iis what is being called the "Streisand effect" in determining what qualifies for removal.

The Streisand effect functions on the premise that requesting the removal of controversial information will on draw a larger audience to the information.

A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media voiced concern over the processing of request to be forgotten noting individuals searching for removed content can still find it through backdoors.

"We are always concerned about any attempts to block access to our content," stated the spokesperson. "The recent ECJ judgment requires Google to deal with these requests on a case-by-case basis, so their current approach appears to be an overly broad interpretation. If the purpose of the judgment is not to enable censorship of publishers by the back door, then we'd encourage Google to be transparent about the criteria it is using to make these decisions, and how publishers can challenge them."

 

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