European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link on Merrill Lynch Was Bad Decision

Acting upon right to be forgotten brings criticism for Google

By on July 4th, 2014 12:30 GMT

Because the situation couldn’t get much more ridiculous, the spokesperson of an European Commission member criticized the decision taken by Google to take down the link of a BBC article from its search results in accordance with the “right to be forgotten” ruling.

Ryan Heath, spokesperson for Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said the decision was “not a good judgment.”

The comment was related to the takedown of a link leading to an article by Robert Peston about the Merrill Lynch crash several years ago and the amount of cash the former boss, Stan O’Neal, left with.

Heath didn’t just point the finger at Google, but at the entire order that pushed the Internet giant to take such measures, saying that the ruling would allow people to “Photoshop their lives,” which is something we’ve also argued.

With about 70,000 requests already made to Google, there’s an average of 3.8 links requested by each individual, so the Internet giant has a long way to go before it goes through them all, and by then, there will surely be more piled up. In fact, Google gets about 1,000 new requests each day, after the initial surge when it got even 14,000 demands in the same day.

The company has promised to look at each of these requests individually and decide about them, but some suspect that Google may have just decided to say yes to all the requests, leading to quite a debate. However, the controversy sparked by the incident may not be such a bad thing if it manages to bring some changes.

The fact of the matter is that the ruling allows people to control what others can find out about them via Google if they use the European versions of the search engine. But if anyone chooses to go to google.com instead, they’ll manage to discover the hidden links, which makes the entire process rather useless.

Since most of the links that people request to be taken down come from various newspapers and magazines around the world, the removal of these links amounts to indirect censorship, as the articles in question don’t actually disappear from the Internet.

Google has argued against the decision, but the “right to be forgotten” pushed through because the order given by the European Court of Justice cannot be attacked. The idea of allowing people to just delete their history from the online world comes from a few years back and stems from the desire to offer Internet users more chances to protect their privacy.

The issue with this is the fact that while some have the right to be forgotten, the rest of the world has the right to know.

Google has made it clear that it wants the entire process to be as transparent as possible. While it has not and cannot reveal the names of those who made the request, the company has made it a point to notify users when links have been removed due to the European order and to notify the media organizations whose links have been taken down.

Furthermore, the removed links continue to be perfectly visible on Google domains outside of the European Union, which makes it easy for anyone to find the information. It is, however, an unnecessary complication for millions of users.

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