Google has been working to respect the “right to be forgotten” as ruled by the European Court of Justice and has removed several links from the search results of several queries, including from well-known publications such as The Guardian, BBC and the Daily Mail.
Following protests from The Guardian because of the removal of some of its stories regarding a soccer referee lying about reversing a penalty decision, Google has decided to reverse the decision.
Separate articles about the former Merrill Lynch CEO, Stanley O’Neal, who left with hundreds of millions of dollars even as the investment bank was crashing with billions of dollars in losses, are still MIA.
Google has been working since May to find a solution to obey the new order and has managed to do so, albeit with a bit of mischief.
For instance, Google receives tens of thousands of link removal requests from Europeans and looks at them individually, since there’s no automated system put in place to analyze them. The entire process is much too subjective for Google’s liking, but there’s little to be done until a proper algorithm is developed.
The company said that it would plain out deny any requests that are related to fraud, criminal activities, child abuse, professional malpraxis and activities that pertain to politicians who try to cover up some statement or another. While those are already taken care of, there’s a wealth of other type of data that people want hidden from search results.
How Google secretly and silently fights against orders
Google has already honored a bunch of these requests, even if it may not like doing this, especially since it’s an indirect censorship of the press. The company has been masking its dislike through a rather ingenious way – it keeps everything transparent.
It won’t tell you who made the request to take down an article or another from the search results, but it will let everyone see that some content was removed from the search result page with the help of a small note in the lower area of the page.
Additionally, Google has basically made sure that media organizations will protest the changes or will post pictures of the articles or make sure that there’s evidence somewhere of the fact that Google was forced to take down a link or another. This means that there’s a likely chance that the article that people are trying to hide will become even more prominent, at least when it concerns public figures.
The next obvious step is for media organizations to protest the takedown and Google to magnanimously decide to reverse the decision because it cannot be accused of press censorship. Thus, the company will have its image intact, after all.
And so, the “right to be forgotten,” an idea that stems from good intentions but has a very bad applicability, is getting sabotaged to an extent by the very company forced to comply.
This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, considering the implications the court decision has on the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to know of everyone else on the planet.
Not to mention the fact that the entire decision is pointless from another point of view – if anyone in Europe simply types in google.com instead of the local version of the search engine, they’ll be able to find all these articles that were hidden.
The European Union can’t force users to stay away from google.com and Google can’t be forced to remove the links from all of its platforms.