BBC clashes with Google over ‘right to be forgotten’ policy

The BBC is contesting the removal of 46 links to articles on its website from Google’s search engine after the web giant started implementing its controversial ‘right to be forgotten’ policy.

Since the policy was introduced, Google has received more than 60,000 requests to remove links from its main service, the biggest and most used search engine on the internet. Up to 500 million people in 32 different countries have the potential to request removal of data.

In response, the BBC has said it will publish a continually updated list of the removed articles that are affecting its websites.

Google has been accused of doing the bidding of those who could affect its money-making, the general public, and of prioritizing its profits over the people’s right to knowledge.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that links that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” should not appear when a specific search – usually a person’s name – is made.

The BBC said that the removed articles are relevant and adequate for public consumption. The editorial policy head of the BBC, David Jordan, told a public meeting that he felt some of the BBC articles had been wrongly hidden.

In one case, a report on the trial of three IRA members was removed, two of whom were later convicted. The removal of this article raised questions about what classified it as suitable for removal.

One link to an article was also removed at the request of someone who had commented beneath the story.

Critics of Google suggest that the BBC in these instances is defending the right of the public to access knowledge. They say that by publishing a list of the removed articles, the BBC shines a light on a policy that could be abused to curb the media’s freedom of expression and suppress legitimate journalism in more extreme circumstances.

The media is becoming more suspicious about ‘the right to be forgotten.’


By Eleanor Wade




“Before we all sink into a slough of digital dystopian despair, it might be worth considering this: is this a sign of the strength, not weakness, of revelatory journalism in the digital age?”

Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS at the London School of Economics, reacts to news that the UK government forced the Guardian into destroying hard drives that contained information leaked by Edward Snowden.

(Source: POLIS)


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