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Google is caught up in a European censorship controversy

Google
Google
Pixabay/Freephoto

It appears Google generally likes to side with the concept of an open Internet with little if any censorship. And so Google found itself dealing with a difficult situation when a recent European court ruling ran into conflict with such a liberal view of Internet freedoms. Google is now at the center of a European censorship storm reported CNN Money on July 4, 2014.

Google recently began deleting some news articles in Europe in order comply with a recent court ruling which sparked off criticism that the firm was restricting freedom of speech. Google informed the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent that it was removing some articles from its European search results in response to requests from people who are looking to make use of a 'right to be forgotten' ruling which was made by the European Court of Justice. This ruling supports the right of users to request that results that include their name be removed where they are "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."

Google has called this ruling disappointing and has received over 70,000 such requests. In dealing with information which relates to crime, misconduct or malpractice Google now has to weigh these requests against the public interest. A Google spokesperson says this is a new and evolving process for the firm. The spokesperson said Google will continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as the firm complies with the ruling. In essence Google must take on the challenge of acting as judge and jury in cases which could have major implications for personal privacy and censorship.

More recently Google has decided to restore some links which were pulled due to the privacy law ruling reports Bloomberg. Links to some news articles which Google removed to comply with the European Union court privacy ruling have been restored after the deletions were criticized by publishers.

Although the court ruled that the right to privacy can override the right to publication, it said this may not apply to people who have a role in public life. This creates a mess for Google which risks becomining unpopular with segments of the public if the firm supports too much censorship on the Internet. It would appear like a good idea for Google to advise individuals they could always blog their responses to controversial stories about them for free on a Google blog.