Google Struggling To Deal With Right To Be Forgotten Requests — Will Now Delete Wikipedia Page From Search Results
from the but,-uh,-it's-editable dept
Late last week, Google responded to the concerns raised by some EU regulators regarding how it is implementing the new “right to be forgotten” rules. Google’s full response is well worth reading going into a fair bit of detail, highlighting how there are a lot of non-trivial decisions to be made in this process — brought on by a ridiculous European Court of Justice ruling. As part of it, Google notes that the process is entirely one-sided and they only get information from the person wishing to delete information from search engines:
We generally have to rely on the requester for information, without assurance beyond the
requester?s own assertions as to its accuracy. Some requests turn out to have been made
with false and inaccurate information. Even if requesters provide us with accurate
information, they understandably may avoid presenting facts that are not in their favour. As
such, we may not become aware of relevant context that would speak in favour of
preserving the accessibility of a search result. An example would be a request to remove
an old article about a person being convicted of a number of crimes in their teenage years,
which omits that the old article has its relevance renewed due to a recent article about that
person being convicted for similar crimes as an adult. Or a requester may not disclose a
role they play in public life, for which their previous reported activities or political positions
are highly relevant. We have also seen examples of data subjects who indiscriminately
submit many URLs that are displayed as search results for their name, even though some
URLs are actually about another person with the same name.
As if to highlight the difficulty, Google is apparently now set to disappear a Wikipedia page from its index due to a right to be forgotten request. But, of course, Wikipedia pages are open and constantly editable, so it seems weird to order that the page be removed entirely from the search engine when someone could just edit it instead. And, if the edit gets reverted, well, perhaps it’s because it’s factual information that is perfectly fine to include in Wikipedia and in Google.
The article does not reveal the particular Wikipedia page or any further information, but highlights just what a ridiculous ruling the original ECJ ruling was. Google is a search engine. Its entire purpose is to help people find what they’re looking for — not to judge whether or not it’s appropriate for someone to be seeking that information in the first place. And then, once you include the editable nature of Wikipedia to the mix, you’re creating a situation that is doubly ridiculous, since there are so many other options for how to deal with the issue.