Wikipedia Entry Faces Google ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Removal

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Are Google’s worst fears about “right to be forgotten” requests coming to fruition, with Wikipedia entry removal?

The controversies surround ‘right to be forgotten’ requests are set to continue after it was revealed that a Wikipedia article is set to be removed from Google search results, the first time the online encyclopaedia has been targeted.

The identity of the person making the right to be forgotten request or the offending Wikipedia entry itself is not known at this stage, but according to the Guardian however, the request will put into effect in a couple of days.

Of course, the entry will not disappear from the web itself, but all hyperlinks to the entry from search engines will be removed, effectively rendering it invisible to most web users.

Completely Insane

jimmywaleswikipedialead“It’s completely insane and it needs to be fixed,” Jimmy Wales, co-founded Wikipedia, was quoted as saying by the Observer about the removal request.

“In the case of truthful, non-defamatory information obtained legally, I think there is no possibility of any defensible ‘right’ to censor what other people are saying,” Wales has said. “You do not have a right to use the law to prevent Wikipedia editors from writing truthful information, nor do you have a right to use the law to prevent Google from publishing truthful information. Wikipedia can and should work hard to do a good job, just as Google can and should work hard to do a good job.”

Wales is one of ten members of an advisory council formed by Google to decide how to handle takedown requests.

It comes after the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled in May that search engine operators were responsible for links to web pages that contain personal information. It ruled that Google and others must remove such links on request of the information owners. Google and Facebook however have long opposed this measure, arguing that it amounts to little more than online censorship.

Online Censorship?

But after the European court ruling, a reluctant Google had to post an online form for people wishing to request the removal of hyperlinks about themselves, and quickly found itself swamped with ‘right to be forgotten’ requests. Google said at the time that most of those requests tend to come from people wishing to remove links to articles about fraud or scams, or arrests or convictions for serious offences.

It seems that so far Google has received 91,000 takedown request, affecting 300,000 web pages. Google’s privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, reportedly revealed it had refused around 32 percent of them, asked for more information on 15 percent, and removed 53 percent.

Last week, the House Of Lords slammed the European ruling on ‘right to be forgotten’ as “unreasonable”, “unworkable” and “wrong”.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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