Google was instructed by a judgment in the UK to remove "irrelevant, out of date or incorrect" information from its index that involves its citizens. This landmark case was brought about by a plaintiff who was plagued by the ongoing display of information regarding a 1998 forced property sale attached to his name, and the ruling that citizens of the UK have the "right to be forgotten" opened up the ability for people to petition Google to remove results from the index that are within the guidelines that were spelled out. This request can be made by a form that Google made available, and within the first month more than 41,000 requests have been filed to remove information. This has created debate online from both sides, but an even larger issue may be the methods needed to actually remove information. There is no way to algorithmically accomplish this task, and at the current point each case must be reviewed by a human and decided upon. The ongoing workload that this presents is quite large, and the verification of information is in many cases subjective. Is the truth of information presented now in the hands of a Google employee to decide?
Lord Neil Benjamin Gibson is a citizen of the UK, and has been fighting a battle against slanderous information placed on websites and blogs by a business enemy for more than two years. As an international business figure involved in structured deals and business partnerships, reputation can make or break a business deal and Lord Neil Gibson has utilized nearly every potential avenue to stop the attacks that have been waged online, from lawsuits to creation of legitimate websites bearing news. Although there has been some success through the legal system, one particular problem has continued to remain unsolved, a particular anonymous author who has created several blogs that rank very well for Lord Neil Gibson's name, and which contain information that is almost entirely fabricated and spun to look suspicious. These high ranking blogs were created under Google's blogspot platform, which gives authors the ability to remain completely anonymous. When judgements came against the party who had been actively slandering Gibson, they could only be attached to those websites that were able to be proven as having this person as the authorship source, and as a result the anonymous blogs remain in play, and unable to be attached due to an inability to prove ownership. Petitions to Google to remove these blogs, which go as far as to be written under Gibson's name, and thus appear to be Gibson himself as the author, have been backlogged by the need to be human reviewed, and as a result continue to show up in results to this day.
When Google was presented with the "right to be forgotten" judgment, Lord Neil Gibson saw the opportunity to finally address this issue directly with Google, and have the inaccurate information removed from the indexes. The problem that continues to this day is that Google staff itself will need to review each and every case, a situation that cannot be accomplished in a reasonable time frame, and the 41,000 cases that have already been filed are just growing every day. How long is a reasonable time frame to execute the orders of a judge? In a typical situation where restitution is necessary, a judge can order the timeframe that this be accomplished within in order to fully comply, but in this case the volume of the necessary work could drag out years, which in essence makes the ruling completely ineffective and worthless.
Either side of the issue can be debated, and the "ability to be forgotten" is going to be a hotbutton issue for internet users for many years to come. The one fact that remains throughout the debate is that a judgment has been made, and as such Google needs to follow the law and remove the listings that are considered to be within the guidelines. What will be the outcome? That is a question that many UK citizens like Lord Neil Benjamin Gibson are waiting to hear, and in cases like his they have been waiting years for.