British LGBT news website PinkNews has claimed 19 of its stories over the past few years have been removed from Google Searches under the European Union’s ‘Right to be forgotten policy’ policy.
In 2014, the European Court of Justice said people could request to have information about themselves that is irrelevant to be omitted from search results or queries from EU sites.
The ruling in Europe stated the request from someone to have a link removed was assessed on a case by case basis. “It only applies where personal data storage is no longer necessary or is irrelevant for the original purposes of the processing for which the data was collected,” said the factsheet. “Removing irrelevant or outdated links is not tantamount to deleting content.
“The right to be forgotten is certainly not about making prominent people less prominent or making criminals less criminal.”
The policy is currently not in Australia, and while there was chatter around whether Australia would introduce a duplicate policy when it was being ruled in Europe, nothing has happened as of yet.
And now PinkNews has released a list of 19 articles – ranging from celebrities who have made homophobic slurs to gay porn stars smuggling crystal meth in their bum – have been removed from Google when someone searches for them.
PinkNews said plenty of people have been filing requests to have PinkNews stories omitted from search queries.
“While PinkNews is informed when a page is removed from search results, no specific information is given to suggest why this occurs. PinkNews is not suggesting that any one person is responsible for the removal of any specific articles,” the company outlined in its post.
“Although search engines are bound by the ‘right to be forgotten’ rules, there is no expectation that the content itself will be deleted – and no requirement that it not be republished.
In an accompanying editorial statement the media company stood by the accuracy of its stories and said it hadn’t been told of anything that was wrong with them.
While the media has a legal obligation to be factually correct, the ‘right to be forgotten’ as established by the European Court of Justice instead hinges on the loosely-worded concept of ‘relevance’.
PinkNews believes these rules are an infringement on press freedom, and have a chilling effect on freedom of speech.
Given this, we will continue to re-publish lists of content that has been removed from search engines in Europe.
We have no doubt that this article itself may soon find itself removed from Google and Bing in Europe.