When I heard about the recent EU (European Union) decision to force Google to de-index articles should they be defamatory or merely negative in some fashion to an individual I shrugged my shoulders. Of course it is not just Google, it expands to other search engines and social media sites such as FaceBook.

It is reported that each month Google receives 25 million requests under the DMCA to de-list copyright infringing articles and videos. The good news for Google is they have invested in automating the process, there is little human effort required, just a bunch of servers to compare content and remove infringing material.

The EU ruling is a whole different animal. Each and every complaint will need to be investigated and a determination made. The question becomes, where do you draw the line between the right to privacy and the public’s right to access information?

This is a very slippery slope. To quote from an article in the UK Telegraph

In the first few days after the ruling, about 1,000 Europeans asked Google to take down links, with about half having criminal convictions and half not, according to people briefed on the requests. The requests included an actor seeking to expunge links to articles about an affair with an underage girl and a doctor seeking to take down negative reviews.

Suddenly Google must be judge, jury and executioner. In some ways it already is, if a web site breaks the rules the eight hundred pound Moutain View Gorilla will hit you with a big stick. But this EU ruling takes it to new levels.

While the ruling briefly caught my attention my basic thought was who cares, it is not my problem, it is everyone elses problem. In the almost 10 years of BNN I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have been asked to remove an article. It takes little time to physically remove an article, but it takes a great deal of time to research who did what to who and why. The EU ruling applies only to the 28 member nations so we here in the US are not involved, right?

Wrong! The EU Right To Be Forgotten law is starting to raise its ugly head here in the US. BNN has a large vault of articles, over 25,000 since 2006. In the past two days I have received 2 requests to have a total of 16 articles removed. Neither of the people involved have standing in the EU ruling, but both clearly were using it as a pivot point to issue a thinly veiled threat.

A lady from India is threatening to file a complaint with Google, good luck, last time I checked India was not part of the EU. Oh and the article in question dates back to 2009!

My absolute favorite one (15 articles) came from here in the US. I rather liked this threat as it came from Janet@xyz.com (fictitious domain) the articles involved were written by the owner of the company Marc@xyz.com The problem is that xyz.com apparently has been deemed as being just a little spammy and Google has brought out their big stick. If I don’t delete the articles that the owner Marc wrote, they will be forced to tell Google that BNN is a little spammy.

The illogic in this argument baffles me.

The Right To Be Forgotten law does have its merits, there are occasions where I can see validity, but I also see many cases where there is no validity.

The rules of the road are, think before you write. Don’t publish pictures or articles that can come back to haunt you.

Simon Barrett

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