Google has been accused of deliberately deleting stories from some of the biggest media companies as part of a dirty tricks campaign to get the likes of the BBC and Guardian on its side against the recent “right to be forgotten” ruling.
It is said the search giant – which claims to be receiving nearly 2,000 take-down requests a day – is creating a false impression that it is being asked to make difficult and burdensome decisions about deleting the data.
Critics point out that, as there is no guidance in place from data regulators over disputes, Google does not have to remove any links yet. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has already stated it will be some months before guidance is issued.
The accusations follow reports that both BBC economics editor Robert Peston and The Guardian have been informed that links to stories they have published are to be deleted following take-down requests.
James Ball of the Guardian said Google has been forced to become “clearly a reluctant participant in what effectively amounts to censorship”.
In a blog post, Paul Bernal, a media law lecturer at the University of East Anglia, said: “They’re trying to say, I think, ‘you know, we were right! This ruling means censorship! This is dangerous!’ They’re also trying to get journalists like James Ball and Robert Peston to be on their side, not on the side of the CJEU – and in Ball’s case, at least, they seem to be succeeding to an extent.”
Google claims to have received more than 70,000 take-down requests since it set up the online form on May 30. It was in response to the European Court of Justice ruling on May 13 that EU consumers had the right to have links to search results removed if they were no longer relevant. However, earlier this week it emerged that requests by public figures and celebrities could be refused.
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