Posted by Kevin on March 18, 2015.
Following Tara’s article on the right-to-be-forgotten (The Right To Be Forgotten – EU and Elsewhere) there was an interesting comment on Twitter:
The headline to this article in the Oxford Mail reads: Google wipes out stories about Asbo yob Sandeep Kumar under Right to be Forgotten ruling. That’s really sad for a newspaper with the Mail’s stature. As Tara explains, Google cannot do that and indeed Google has not done that. All Google can do, and all Google has done (according to this news report) is remove the article links from its search engine. The articles themselves remain right there on the Mail’s website. So this is either pure fabricated sensationalism or the Oxford Mail really doesn’t understand what it is writing about.
I think the former, because it’s not deep philosophy. Indeed, I would suggest that this is little more than a cheap way of getting more hits to its website. Sandeep Kumar stories are dead as news. Or at least they were before this new attention-grabbing headline gave the editor the opportunity to provide new links and breathe new life into what’s dead and gone.
The group editor Simon O’Neil even goes on to suggest, “By hiding these results from search engines, it is effectively an attempt to re-write history.” That is palpable rubbish. What, did we have no history before Google? Incidentally, Google doesn’t seem to have done a very good job at re-writing history: a search is still turning up at least one disturbing story about Sandeep Kumar – and of course, a link to this new article that tells you all about the other ones.
The sad thing is that the Mail’s self-righteous but inaccurate appeal to another ‘right’, that of freedom of speech, gives the right-to-be-forgotten an undeserved bad name. These rights are not mutually exclusive. Shame on you, Oxford Mail.