Europe recently decided that folks have a “right to be forgotten” on the internet, giving people the opportunity to get results they don’t like erased from Google and other search sites. But the internet never really forgets, and here’s proof: Hidden From Google, a new website that documents the things people ask Google to erase. Sneaky.
On its About page, Hidden From Google explains its mission:
The purpose of this site is to list all links which are being censored by search engines due to the recent ruling of “Right to be forgotten” in the EU. This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the Internet. It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU.
Basically, openness for the sake of openness, with a nice little dodge about “it’s up to you whether we’re the good guys or the bad guys in this tale.” It’s not the only way you can figure out who’s asking Google to stop serving old (perhaps embarrassing) search results: The Big G itself has a sneaky response, alerting websites when someone requests that a search result be “forgotten”.
And, of course, there’s no way for Hidden From Google to actually guarantee they can publish every search result Google censors. The site operates on user submissions, so it’s up to the eagle-eyed internet to make sure censorship requests get outed. The site only shows a paltry nine results on the page so far.
The “right to be forgotten” may be a legitimate protection for people who’ve been slandered or misrepresented on the internet, but it’s also a censorship playground for people to try and stifle factual, legitimate stories that paint them in a light they don’t desire. And the more powerful or notable a person is, the more likely he or she is to request their record be expunged by Google.