Thursday, Brad Reed of BGR reported on a Google search deletion made in response to Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten” law. What’s so disturbing about it is the fact that everything in the article was supposedly factually true. Will this start a precedence that will trickle over into the US? And, if so, will this new Google search deletion policy begin to infringe on “freedom of the press” laws?
“Right to be Forgotten” Already being Abused?
It seems that a law put in place to help citizens protect their online images is being abused. The rich and powerful have found a way to use it to have negative information removed from the Web. This should be cause for concern for people across the globe.
But, will this stop the world from being informed about the wrongdoings of these people? Will corporations also be able to use the law to their advantages as well? To many, this seems to be a form of censorship. And, Americans need to be concerned as the US just may follow suit.
Reed is concerned that journalism will suffer in response to freedom of expression being suppressed. The BGR article, “The single most disturbing Google search deletion yet” notes that the law was supposed to protect ordinary citizens:
“When Europe told Google that its citizens have a “right to be forgotten” by search results, the stated intention was to let ordinary citizens ask to have embarrassing links about them removed from Google search results.
However, there are some obvious unintended consequences of this “right to be forgotten” rule as it can easily be used by powerful people to censor negative information about them.”
Google Search Deletion Policy Removes Important Merrill Lynch Article
So, what’s the article that was removed from European search results due to the policy? It was a 2007 article that was written about the former CEO of Merrill Lynch Stan O’Neal. It gave a detailed account of the disaster caused during the time O’Neal ran the firm. After suffering major losses due to the results of subprime mortgages, Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America.
The point is, according to a BBC news article written by Robert Peston, the piece was factually accurate. It stated facts that were direct indications of worse things that were to be expected during the upcoming 2008 financial crisis. This was a crisis that affected the US financially, as well as the entire world, in one way of another.
Is Policy Leading to New Form of Censorship?
Peston believes that the removal of the blog post simply confirms fears people already had about the Google search deletion policy. This is just the beginning of what may prove to be an unconstitutional form of censorship known as the “Right to be Forgotten.”
The consensus is that it will abuse the freedom of journalists to express themselves in the media. As in this case, “legitimate journalism that is in the public interest” has been unfairly suppressed, according to Peston’s views.
If the “Right to be Forgotten” isn’t re-examined, the Google search deletion policy will continue to expand far beyond private citizens. Once public figures such as celebrities, businesspeople and politicians begin abusing it, freedom of the press will be in big trouble. Here in the US, and around the world, people will suffer great losses in their abilities to search and find important, relevant information about public figures.