In May 2014 the EU made further rulings on a citizen’s ‘right to be forgotten’ in the rapidly changing landscape of data protection in a technology driven world.
In theory it is a good move for individuals whose online search results are out of date or damaging. However, this has also resulted in the censoring of articles about criminals and random incidents. The articles or content in question are still available on media portals under their direct links but they can be difficult to finding using Google’s search engine.
Hidden from Google
Hidden from Google is an attempt to draw attention to the flaws of this ruling and highlight which articles have been censored by Google. The law may have been the result of one individual’s campaign to remove character damaging, inaccurate information, but recently, articles about sexual offenders and criminal bankers have also been granted permission to be removed from the search engine.
This leads to various questions regarding what can be censored, who is monitoring requests and should Google also be playing a role as editor on top of everything else?
Hidden from Google argues that “It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU.”
Should articles about criminal activity be allowed to be censored on Google?
Article topics vary on Hidden from Google but some of the more worrying ones which have been removed include a BBC article about five men convicted of child abuse in the Portuguese state run home Casa Pia. Actions like this leave journalists and readers wondering; why is Google wiping the records of convicted criminals from it’s search engine?
Several articles which have been removed from the search engine date back to 2010. Many of the reported incidents, such as the Guardian’s French Post It article would have naturally faded from the reader’s memory. Their removal from Google resulted in journalists reporting on the censorship of the article, thus bringing the incident back into the news. Not exactly what the ‘right to forget’ system was set up to do.
Hidden from Google is not an extensive listing by any means and relies on users to submit links which have been removed. It is however, a step towards questioning how exactly the new system and it’s rules will be monitored.
Founder of the site Afaq Tariq told Motherboard „If enough people voice their opinion and say that this site causes more harm than good, I would be the first to consider its removal“.
Tariq also believes that determining what is included in a Google search should be a decision made by the internet as a whole rather than one individual who wants to remove something criminal or embarrasing from their record.
Featured image: BATH, UK – MAY 4, 2011: Close-up of the Google.com search homepage displayed on a LCD computer screen with silhouette of a man’s head out of focus in the foreground. via Shutterstock. Copyright: antb