Is Google Working The ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ System?

Some industry-watchers claim Google might be indirectly fighting the EU ruling.
Posted at 3:42 PM, Jul 04, 2014

Under The EU’s new Right to be Forgotten, anyone can petition Google to have irrelevant or misleading content removed from its indexing services.

This doesn’t remove the content itself, just Google’s listing. And it’s only from certain EU google domains — searches from, say, the U.S. Google site can turn up some of those blacklisted results.

All the same, objection has been swift and dire: BGR worries the new system is ripe for abuse and already trending toward censorship.

The Guardian stuck an asterisk on the concept of a Google search: Now, “You see the most important information the target of your search is not trying to hide.”

But there’s a new argument being floated by some industry watchers — that Google is just as disillusioned with the whole idea as everyone else, and is playing by the rules to call attention to just how absurd they are. (Via Flickr / Carlos Luna)

Those deleted links, after all, are getting plenty of coverage — especially from those organizations that lose out on traffic as a result. Six of The Guardian’s own articles were blocked this way.

The idea, some outlets would suggest, is to get journalists, organizations and the public on its side — and in the process turn an indirect spotlight on the links it’s deleting through the Right to be Forgotten. (Via Softpedia)

Peter Barron, director of Google communications for Europe, talked to BBC radio 4:

“This is new territory for us all, we opposed the ruling, there is no right of appeal in the European Court of Justice, but we think it’s important to have a public debate about this. It’s a very, very important issue.”

But Google is stopping short of admitting to forcing the issue by proxy of public outcry — a tactic some, including Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, think is too roundabout anyway.

“If Google wanted to gum up the works, it could have rejected all requests… That would have put huge pressure on privacy regulators to deal with this situation, which in turn would have put huge pressure on various EU governments on how they really wanted to enforce this court mandate. Google didn’t do that.”

Google has fielded more than 70,000 requests for removal since the ruling came down in May — which Google reps say amount to a quarter million individual links to content.