After much criticism, Google has reinstated some search links it removed earlier this week due to the European Court of Justice “right to be forgotten” ruling.
The move comes after Google notified British media outlets, The Guardian and the BBC that links to some articles would no longer be visible on their search engine after they received complaints to have the links removed.
Outcry citing censorship and media freedom immediately followed, and to some, highlighted the lack of transparency about how the ruling would be overseen.
“Google is confirming the fears of many in the industry that the ‘right to be forgotten’ will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest,” said economics editor at the BBC, in an article Tuesday.
On May 13, Europe’s highest judicial court, ruled against Google in a case where a Spaniard named Mario Costeja Gonzalez asked Google to take down a link about a housing auction that listed he failed to pay his taxes. Google’s refusal to remove the link was overruled by the Court, citing that that European citizens had a right to be forgotten.
“The data belongs to the individual, not to the company. And unless there is a good reason to retain this data, an individual should be empowered – by law – to request erasure of this data,” said European Court of Justice Viviane Reding on her Facebook page the day of the ruling.
Since the ruling, Google has received requests from politicians, accused pedophiles and doctors claiming that some links on the search engine reflect badly on their image. The links would still exist on the internet but would not be visible in the search engine.
In an interview with BBC’s Radio 4, Google’s head of communication, Peter Barron, said they are learning as they go with the new process.
The stories removed but now reinstated included a soccer referee who resigned after a scandal in 2010, French office workers making post-it art and a lawyer facing a fraud trial.