I’m not Google’s biggest fan, yes I use their services and I was one of the first to use their search engine when it started back in the 90s. But they are now an effective monopoly in many areas and have become less transparent in general.
That being said I’m disturbed by the recent ruling by the European Court that users can request Google to remove links in their search results that show them in a bad light. There are a few reasons for my concern:
- At the end of the day Google is only reporting on the web content, the actual articles the people object to are still there, this means that they can be found by other engines, presumably even by using a different country’s Google such as google.com instead of google.co.uk
- There is no clear ruling on why someone can ask for removal, is it because the the articles are defamatory, inaccurate, out of date or just annoying? - it also leaves it up to Google to decide it the request is legitimate
- It’s censorship, not that I think that anything goes, but if you are a businessman who has been made bankrupt why should you be able to hide this fact when I am deciding whether to back your new venture? (This is an actual example of a request for removal)
- Google are also punishing what may be an entirely legitimate site by removing them from the results. I can imagine that Private Eye, a satirical yet serious UK political commentator, will see their rankings drop substantially
I was hoping Google would tell them to take a running jump and threaten to remove services from the EU, unfortunately they seem to be acquiescing.
All in all, if people want stuff removing that’s untrue let’s make the process easier than it is currently, but target the publisher not the search engine.