The EU and Censorship

Google US Brazil
Google is starting to accept requests from Europeans who want to erase unflattering information from the results produced by the world’s dominant search engine.
The demands can be submitted on a Web page that Google opened late Thursday in response to a landmark ruling issued two weeks ago by Europe’s highest court.
The decision gives Europeans the means to polish their online reputations by petitioning Google and other search engines to remove potentially damaging links to newspaper articles and other websites with embarrassing information about their past activities.
Google’s compliance thrusts the company into the prickly position of having to balance privacy concerns and “the right to be forgotten” against the principles of free expression and “the right to know.”
It will also create a divide between how Google generates search results about some people in Europe and the rest of the world. For now at least, Google will only scrub personal information spanning a 32-nation swath in Europe. That means Googling the same person in the United States and dozens of other countries could look much different than it does from Europe.

Although the court ruling only applied to 28 countries in the European Union, Google is extending the “right to be forgotten” to four other countries — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. More than 500 million people live in the area affected by Google’s potential purge of personal information from its European search results.



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11 responses to “The EU and Censorship

  1. BTW there is a fantastic article on the chilcott report today on the website “england is ours” and see the comments too

  2. Bruce Goldfinch

    A slippery slope that should worry us all. If this story was coming out of China, the western politicians would be jumping up and down, scoring political points for all they are worth.

  3. dpack

    the internet archive projects and using tor might get round the eu restrictions on truth.
    i wonder who might be making multiple applications asap?
    having observed various things “disappear”overnight in relation to some of the issues we have been looking into i recon this new development is not the thin end of the wedge we passed that ages ago,this is a much fatter section of a rather thick wedge.

    it is rather odd to allow a commercial company to be the judge of what is true or in the public interest even if it is true.

    im in favour of untruth being challenged with truth but to be able to remove truth from the “record”because it is an inconvenient truth is a very dangerous situation

    • Anon

      If a commercial company is judging then the Truth is determined by the Highest Bidder.

      If the subject is a private individual then the Truth is hidden by paying the necessary blackmail fees or else by organised cover-ups.

  4. Andy Barnett

    Let’s not forget that, if you have the money, you can pay Google (or people that understand Google’s algorithms) to promote certain search results, thus burying certain others. I’m not in favour of this ruling but lets not kid ourselves that this sort of thing is not already happening.

    That said, I do hope Google will be true to their promise of transparency and publish a list (anonymised obviously) of all cases where search results are to be censored, so we can judge how irrelevant the information was and appeal their decisions.

  5. Sabre gets you the USA search page without redirecting to uk search page

  6. Sabre

    Edit previous , should be

  7. nuggy

    the information will still be there it just wont be on google

    it could still found.

  8. APS

    For a more reasoned article than that peddled by most of the media I suggest people should read the following article from ‘The Register’:

    To quote just part of the article:

    “Yet much of the reporting of that outcome perpetuates two inaccuracies. The first is that Google is now the ultimate arbiter of privacy complaints – and therefore faces a new and onerous additional workload. This is incorrect: each member state’s data protection regulator is the ultimate authority, so the workload falls on them. Google can reject all complaints at minimal expense, if it chooses to do so. It can also challenge any regulator’s ruling.

    The second falsehood is that the ECJ created a new, no-arguments “right to be forgotten” in the EU, which means any paedophile or bankrupt person can have information about their sexual convictions or financial affairs removed from Google’s search engine in Europe.

    This is incorrect because the ECJ emphatically stated that removals could not jeopardise the public interest. And a pedophile’s convictions are a matter of public interest.”

  9. TFS

    Does this also include political parties, financial organisations, governments?

    Man, Stalin must be wetting himself…..