‘Right to be forgotten’ leads Google to remove embarrassing news stories

Last week Google began to remove search results due to a ruling from the European Union Court of Justice. The ruling compelled Google to remove any results about individuals that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed”. However, various news outlets in the UK say that stories have been removed from Google search results that do not fulfil those criteria.

Some of the removed stories include an article by the BBC’s Robert Peston about a business leader involved in the collapse of a bank and a Guardian report on a soccer referee who lied about the reasons behind a controversial decision in 2010. Many have believe that the ruling by the European Court is being used by individuals to remove embarrassing news stories from search results in an attempt to hide them from public view. Others though believe that Google may be using a broad interpretation of the law in order to show how it can be misused and abused.

Google says that it has also received over 50,000 requests from people wanting to have search results altered, with the company hiring a large number of staff to deal with the work. This may have indirectly led to requests being approved when they shouldn’t be. The company has stated that they will listen to feedback and work on amending the process  in the coming days and weeks.

The ruling came about when a Spanish man argued that outdated information about an auction notice on his house from 1998 appearing on Google was an infringement of his privacy. He wanted the European Court to force the internet giant to remove results linking to the notice removed as they were no longer relevant to his person life. The court agreed and ruled that individuals had a right to be forgotten under the criteria above. On the other side Google argued against the ruling, arguing that it could be used as a form of censorship.