If you need proof that the European Commission’s “right to be forgotten” ruling from earlier this year is complete and utter nonsense, all you need to do is look at the most recent opponent to internet deletions: the European Commission itself. According to a report from ITProPortal.com, the European Commission has spoken up in response to the way that “right to be forgotten” cases are proceeding.
Under the ruling, citizens of European Union can request that Google and other search engines remove results that personally pertain to them and are incorrect or out of date. As a result of the decision, Google has been forced to set up a system for accepting, sorting, and considering deletion requests. Just this week, the search engine giant started honoring these requests and removing search result links for citizens looking to be forgotten, but one of the deletions has drawn the ire of the very governing body that created the whole mess in the first place.
After Google removed a link for a BBC article from its search results, per a “right to be forgotten” request, a spokesperson for the European Commission said that the EU ruling was not created so that people could “photoshop their lives.” In other words, even the European Commission thinks that people are abusing the “right to be forgotten” concept, and are doing so to challenge anything negative about themselves online.
The article in question, written by BBC economics editor Robert Peston about the ouster of Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O’Neal in 2007, essentially detailed the massive failings of a corporate CEO. But while the content was certainly a less-than-flattering portrayal of O’Neal, it was hardly “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” Instead, the article was clearly removed because O’Neal did not like the content and wanted to preserve his own reputation. In the words of The Daily Mail‘s Martin Clarke, “It is the equivalent of going into libraries and burning books you don’t like.
Many have suggested that Google knows how absurd the removals are, and is simply going along with frivolous requests as a means of making the European Commission look bad. Evidently, the strategy is working.