The fallout of the EU’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ ruling has impacted a number of European news publications who suddenly found some of their “inadequate” and “irrelevant” pieces disappear from the web search engine results pages.
The search engine now stands accused of heavy-handedness by several media outlets, links to which have disappeared due to Google’s fear of potential legal issues.
The Guardian, the BBC, and Sky News were among those who received an ominous email in the past 48 hours saying that certain articles could no longer be linked to – articles which arguably could be deemed both relevant and in the public interest.
“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,” read the email from the search engine.
“The ruling has created a stopwatch on free expression – our journalism can be found only until someone asks for it to be hidden,” the Guardian responded after learning that six of its articles had been obliterated from Google.
Google has now restored the links to the Guardian’s website, but has not reactivated a link to a BBC article.
In May, people residing in EU states gained the ability to request such “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” content be taken offline through the completion of a web form and the submission of one form of identification.
Some of the requests have been highly controversial. For example a pedophile called for pages about his trial to be removed from Google. The man, convicted of possessing child abuse images, submitted his request, immediately following the European Court ruling.