Google’s Response To The ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Is Just Perfect

Google’s Response To The ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Is Just Perfect

In May, the EU Court of Justice ruled that because people have “right to be forgotten”, Google would have to remove links when people ask them to from European versions of search. But you can’t hide from the past on the internet.

The requirement that Google take down links just because somebody doesn’t want them to show up when their name is Googled is just lame censorship. But nonetheless, as TechDirt reports, Google has already received tens of thousands of requests from people who want embarrassing stories about them out of sight. Who doesn’t have a secret they want to cover up?

But it’s not as simple as just saying “please take down that link, Google” and having it quietly disappear. The search giant has taken a smart (and pretty funny) step of highlighting the stories people want removed one last time by notifying sites that they have been delinked. If you tell a journalism outfit that their story has been taken down, how do you think they’re going to respond? The BBC posted one of its removal requests:

Notice of removal from Google Search: 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:…robertpeston/2007/10/merrills_mess.html

If you read the story in question, you’ll notice that the only person mentioned in the story is former Merrill Lynch chief Stan O’Neal who was ousted after losing huge amounts of money. The BBC obviously figured out that it was probably O’Neal that wanted the link taken down — because who else would it be?

Oopsies Stan! Looks like your dirty laundry is flapping in the wind all over again. And all because you tried to cover it up.

Google’s response is a wonderful reaction to censorship and a triumph for transparency. It’d be better if nothing was getting de-indexed at all, but this is at least a delicious reminder that you can’t run away from your past on the internet. Nothing really goes away, and if you’re an idiot, you’ll pay the price forever. [TechDirt and BBC]