Technology

New Website Gathers, Lists Censored Google Searches

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The European Court of Justice made its "Right to be Forgotten" ruling in May, which allows European users to request that Google remove information about them from European Google search results, even if that information is accurate.

The BBC has already complained that some of its articles were removed from European Google search results, but Google insists that it is simply complying with the European Court of Justice's ruling.

Google noted on its official blog that it has received 70,000 requests to remove information from European search results.

However, the new website HiddenFromGoogle.com is compiling and storing a list of links that are removed by Google under the "Right to be Forgotten" ruling.

The website also asks members of the public to submit links that have been removed by Google from European search results.

The "About" page on HiddenFromGoogle.com states, "This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the Internet. It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU.”

According to RT.com, Google claims it still has the final say (not the EU) on requests to remove search results, which it weighs against the public interest and an individuals’ right to privacy.

However, the power of corporate censorship is not sitting well with critics.

“Here state power is being exercised without the involvement of the state: Google decides how to handle redaction requests”, Johnathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard University, told the Financial Times.

“If a search engine declines to alter its results, the claimant might appeal to a national data protection authority," added Zittrain. "Under the court’s decision, the public’s right to know is to be balanced against a claimant’s right to privacy, but there is no easy way for the public to remonstrate against poor balancing."

One group of people who are happy about the "Right to Forgotten" ruling are the so-called "online reputation management companies."

TIME reports:

Online reputation management is a growing business that is now being boosted by the E.U. ruling. For a fee that can amount to thousands of dollars a month, companies take on clients and scrub clean their search results by creating search engine-optimized content that hog up the first few pages of search results on Google. Clients ranging from CEOs, major corporations, celebrities down to doctors and restaurateurs who use the services to whitewash their online presence.

Sources: TIME, Financial Times, BBC, Google Blog, RT.com (Image Credit: Coolcaesar and Dani 7C3)

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