If you’ve ever had pictures of a rough night out posted on Facebook, or in a more extreme example, have ever been the target of a Daily Mail witch hunt, then this news will surely pique your interest – Google is now allowing you to plaintively request that their search engine no longer displays content about you that you might find undesirable or slanderous.
The tech giant has had to bow to an EU ruling which in a nutshell means they have to remove links to personal data if a request to do so is made by an injured party. The ‘right to be forgotten’ form will allow users to have these links removed from Google search results – whether other search engines affected is unclear as of yet, but yet again this comes as another example of the site’s popularity bringing it into the firing line, with critics saying Google is being used as a scapegoat.
Another example of this alleged scapegoating is the mandatory removal of links to website that include unlicensed copyrighted material being removed, with the ‘chilling effects’ message being displayed. This harsh measure is criticised as blaming Google for the actions of these irresponsible websites hosting such content, simply because Google shows it up in their search results. You may be familiar with the message, but here’s an example.
“In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 2 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org.”
As the precedent for complaining to Google to remove search results to pages harmful in one way or another to an individual or company has now been set, the complaints procedure has now been extended to private individuals. You can now fill in this form here, and once you supply valid ID such as a drivers license or passport, Google will review your complaint. If the complaint is accepted as genuine, the search results will be removed and a message will be shown.
Governments have also recently been on Google’s case to remove content. Governments of large countries, Google says mostly Russia and Turkey,which want to remove content can also complain, and requests have been on the rise. Many wish to remove links to videos of unflattering political gaffes, police brutality, plus opposition party blogs and other content which may cause a decrease in votes.
Google’s transparancy report can be found here, it details these takedown requests for both governments and copyright holders in a more complex manner than described here:
Who says democracy is perfect? Weigh in below, show your righteous indignation, or your support for this move on the comments section.