Google Starts Disappearing Part Of The Internet In Europe
from the censorship-in-action dept
Google engineers overnight updated the company's technical infrastructure to begin implementing the removals, and Thursday began sending the first emails to individuals informing them that links they had requested were being taken down. The company has hired a dedicated "removals team" to evaluate each request, though only a small number of the initial wave of takedown requests has so far been processed.Perhaps even more troubling, is that after EU regulators got worked up about Google's plan to at least indicate that certain search results had been removed (as it does with DMCA copyright takedowns), Google has backed down on that plan:
"This week, we're starting to take action on the removals requests that we've received," a Google spokesman said. "This is a new process for us. Each request has to be assessed individually, and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue."
Google, for its part, has appeared to bend to regulators' desire that the company refrain from indicating in search results when something had been removed. Google had earlier indicated it might highlight the removals, something it does when it removes links to pirated content. But EU regulators told Google in recent weeks that such a move would undermine the spirit of the decision by making it clear some individuals had wanted information about them suppressed, one regulator said.Still, it seems highly likely that Google is going to face more litigation over this, since some are grumbling that Google is only removing those results on its EU pages, and that if someone sneaks over to one of Google's non-EU search engines, it can still find the (again, truthful) information.
Instead, Google on Thursday added a blanket notification that appears at the bottom of most results for individual name searches conducted on Google's European search websites, according to an explanation the company posted to its website. The notification—"Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe"—is added algorithmically to searches that appear to be for a name, a person familiar with the matter said.
This whole thing is a huge mess based on people totally misunderstanding the nature of public information. And, because of that, there are going to be a series of fights over just how far Google has to go in censoring such information.