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Thousands of Britons seek 'right to be forgotten'

Google has stated that 1 in 10 requests for website links are to be removed from search results under the European “right to be forgotten” laws have come from the UK. Google stated that 498,737 links had been removed by Google from search results since May this year – this included 63,616 pages after requests from the United Kingdom. It said that 18,304 requests had been made in the UK, which is the third highest in the EU. This comes after a European Court of Justice ruled that links to irrelevant and outdated information can be deleted on request. This ruling raised criticisms over censorship of material. Information on the website shows that Google has removed 35% (or 18, 459) of unwanted links to web pages after requests from the UK.

During 2012, plans for a “right to be forgotten” lay were published by the European Commission. The law detailed the right for people to request that information on websites be removed. Internet service providers must comply unless they had “legitimate” reason to do otherwise. The plans are a part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the commission’s 1995 Data Protection Directive. The Ministry of Justice in the UK has stated that the law “raises unrealistic and unfair expectations”. Many technology companies have voiced concern about the reach of the bill. Featured in a transparency report, Google included examples of the kinds of requests it had received, along with the search engine’s decision. They said that they has turned down requests from a UK public official who had wanted a link to a student organisation’s petition that demanded his removal be taken down.

As well as this, Google decided to reject the request of a former clergyman from the UK who asked for two links to articles about an investigation into sexual abuse accusations about him to be removed. It stated that a UK “media professional” had requested that four links to articles be removed reporting on “embarrassing content he posted to the internet”, a request that Google also turned down. There was a doctor that requested that over 50 links to newspaper articles about a botched procedure be removed. Google stated; “three pages that contained personal information about the doctor but did not mention the procedure have been removed from search results for his name”, however “the rest of the links to reports on the incident remain in search results”.

They said a news summary of a man who has been convicted at a magistrates’ court had been removed as, under the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, his conviction had been served. Facebook, had 3,353 links erased in Europe, and YouTube, with 2,392 URLs removed, were amongst the websites that are most affected.

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