The Google Spain ruling has been in place since May 2014. It allows someone to request an article to be removed from Google’s search results for a specific search term if it’s outdated or irrelevant.
Rule for the right purpose
The European Court of Justice enforced the rule to Google, meaning that links to content which is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” must be removed from the search results. So whilst the content remains online, it’s not directly affecting people or companies’ reputations unfairly.
Some believe that this conflicts with freedom of speech, so the BBC has released a list of their content which has been removed under the ruling to encourage transparency.
The rule is not in place to undo journalists’ work or mislead the public; Google only accepts requests for genuine, valid reasons and assesses cases against the individual’s right to privacy and the public’s right to find it.
The BBC’s list will publicly document stories which some people would rather you forget, with some of the articles removed fully from Google’s index and others removed on certain search terms, in which the article could be detrimental to.
The BBC have cited that the decision is down to the fact that they believe license fee payers should know which stories have been removed from Google searches. Explaining the news in his blog, BBC Managing Editor Neil McIntosh said the decision was “primarily as a contribution to public policy.”
He said: “We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.”
The Daily Telegraph made a similar decision recently, documenting a list of all of their articles which had been removed from Google’s results, whilst Facebook was the latest company to question the Right to be Forgotten ruling.
The BBC caveats the decision, pointing out that it’s unknown who asked for the story to be removed. They said: “When looking through this list it is worth noting that we are not told who has requested the delisting, and we should not leap to conclusions as to who is responsible. The request may not have come from the obvious subject of a story.”
Google is unlikely to accept a request unless it’s for good reason – the Right to be Forgotten is a tool which is helpful for the right reasons. Google is working to help people who are unfairly represented online, whilst also retaining a fair, transparent system for their search engine.