Another Right To Be Forgotten Request Backfires Completely
from the the-only-way-it-was-ever-going-to-play-out dept
When the EU Court of Justice issued its “right to be forgotten” ruling, it seemed to forget that there are many more parties involved than simply the aggrieved person standing in front of them. There are those whose articles are being delisted, many of which are journalistic institutions that aren’t going to simply lay there and allow some third party to selectively edit their publications.
The Bolton News (UK) just received notification from Google that one of its stories was due to be vanished from Google’s search engine. Needless to say, this request has produced another story highlighting the original story the filer(s) wanted delisted.
A STORY in The Bolton News has come under the spotlight of the controversial new “right to be forgotten” ruling…
The 2010 story details a court case in which Ben Barlow, Christopher Mahoney and Christopher Brennan were jailed after they pleaded guilty to violent disorder. They had attacked a group of soldiers who had all served in Afghanistan. The victims told the court they were more frightened in the pub than they had been on the front line.
In the attack, the thugs glassed paratrooper Adam Evans in the neck and stabbed him in the leg. Another of the soldiers, Jamie Morton, who was kicked and punched on the ground, said he feared he was going to die.
At the trial of the three men, Judge William Morris said: “These victims were all injured. Mr Evans was very gravely injured indeed.”
Someone thought this story should just go away. The Bolton News thought otherwise. Now, whoever wanted the original story delisted has another article to add to a future request. But judging from editor-in-chief’s comments, adding Bolton News links to a right to be forgotten request is going to be a waste of time.
“As the editor of a newspaper, I believe passionately in the freedom of the press and I will fight any attempts to remove legitimate content…
“Clearly, people who aren’t happy that stories which we have legitimately published should not have the right to have them removed from a Google search, in my view.”
It sounds like the Bolton News will simply highlight each request as it comes in, defeating the requester’s attempt to bury bad news. Many other journalism outlets have taken the same stance in the last several days, turning the EU court’s ruling into one of the most self-defeating decisions ever rendered.
The only way to prevent this is for the EU court to start taking action against journalistic entities who subvert the spirit of the ruling or ordering Google to stop notifying those affected, neither of which should even be considered by the legal body. The original ruling was terrible enough, especially in its blissful ignorance of how this “right to be forgotten” would work in practice.
Things can be forgotten, even on the internet. But it’s organic. Whatever the steady flow of content doesn’t push aside will likely succumb to link rot at some point. Newspaper websites (a favorite target of right to be forgotten requests) experiment with paywalled archives or otherwise make their older articles unavailable (often just sloppy maintenance or coding), solving many of these complainants’ problems for them. Issuing a request is pretty much guaranteed to bring it all right back to the surface. Forcing this organic process will almost always backfire, something requesters should keep in mind before filling out Google’s webform.