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Google orchestrating anti-GDPR sentiment

Posted by on September 13, 2014.

There is still an awful lot of guff talked about Google and the ‘right to be forgotten’. Much of the media portrays the issue as a right for individuals to demand that personal data be removed from the internet. This is not the case. Google couldn’t do it even if it were the case. There simply is no right to be forgotten, nor any technical means whereby you could be forgotten. All Google can do is de-index the location of internet content; and even there, in every single incident, Google has the right to refuse the request. It would then, if pressed, be up to the national regulator (the ICO in this case) to rule on the request.

However, it is in Google’s interest to stir things up – which it is doing – in order to strengthen its arguments against the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation which it really doesn’t want.

Consider the Worcester News. On September 10 it published an article claiming:

CONTROVERSIAL internet regulations have struck the Worcester News for the first time.

Google has removed a five-year-old article from its searches, as part of the disputed EU ‘right to be forgotten’ law.

In fact, this article is fairly good in its use of words: it specifies ‘searches’ rather than ‘internet’ and puts right ot be forgotten in quotes (indicating that it might not be quite what it seems). However, the article doesn’t provide Google’s notification, not does it specify whether the newspaper has appealed the de-indexing (which is its right).

In reality, there is no justification for de-indexing this article. It is a factual piece including an illustration of work by a young artist. That artist wants it removed because the illustration no longer reflects either the content or quality of his current work. Tough – you should not be allowed to re-write history. Google could and should have simply said, No. But it didn’t, because it wants the world to believe that the EU is implementing internet censorship via data protection.

(That the UK government is implementing internet censorship by controlling the ISPs is a separate – and disturbing – issue.)

All we really have is that bald statement from the Worcester News: “Google has removed a five-year-old article from its searches.” But it hasn’t. I checked. Not even in google.co.uk (Google isn’t required to even consider de-indexing in google.com nor any other google search outside of the EU).

First I searched on the title of the article: Scholarship will help Dan follow dream

Scholarship will help Dan follow dream   Google UK Search

It’s still there (also showing that Jeremy Vine got it wrong on Twitter).

But in fact Google is only required to de-index searches with the person’s name. So I searched again adding Dan Roach’s full name.

Scholarship will help Dan Roach follow dream   Google UK Search

It’s still there. So either Google had a change of heart and has re-indexed the article, or it never de-indexed in the first place.

Either way, the search giant is very cleverly orchestrating public sentiment against the GDPR. Do not be fooled. The GDPR is a good thing for the people of Europe, and a gold standard that should be emulated throughout the world.


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Submitted in: Expert Views, Kevin Townsend's opinions, News_privacy | Tags: , , , , ,