Paedophile, politician and doctor in bids to erase internet past using EU court 'right to be forgotten'

A British politician seeking re-election has made requests to Google to have results removed from the search engine following the "right to be forgotten" ruling.

The move follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice – the EU's highest court – that people had the "right to be forgotten", and could ask Google and other search engine operators to remove articles which appeared in search results which tarnished their reputations.

The politician has asked for stories linking him to a scandal to be removed from searches related to him, sources confirmed.

Two other UK requests for search results to be removed include a convicted paedophile and a doctor who received negative feedback online.

The original case regarding the right to be forgotten was brought by a Spanish man who claimed his privacy had been infringed when an auction notice for his repossessed home dating from some years ago appeared in a search under his name.

Under Article 17 of the European Data Protection Regulation, internet users who are mentioned in data have the right to "obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data relating to them and the abstention from further dissemination of such data".

Google has declined to comment on the received requests, but expressed its disappointment when the ruling was made on Tuesday.

A Google spokesman said: "The ruling has significant implications for how we handle take-down requests.

"This is logistically complicated – not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review.

"As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know."

The creator of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has recently beenleading a campaign to establish a Bill of Rights for web users to ensure they are protected online.

While this court ruling appears to support this idea, some industry experts have expressed concern that the ruling amounts to censorship and a violation of free speech.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called the ruling "astonishing" when it was first announced, describing it as "one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I've ever seen".

He later tweeted: "When will a European Court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn't like it?"

Emma Carr, acting director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "It is hardly surprising that people, intent on re-writing their own history, have already requested that Google remove links to articles referring to their past.

"Those arguing that this ruling is a successful move towards 'the right to be forgotten' are quite simply wrong, it is going to be of huge detriment to freedom of speech.

"There is little doubt that making intermediaries responsible for the actions of the content of other people will inevitably lead to greater surveillance and a risk of censorship.

"It is important to recognise that search engines do not host information and trying to get them to censor legal and accurate content form their results is totally the wrong approach.

"If an individual takes issue with something that has been published about them, they should tackle that at the source."

But Conservative MP David Davis said: "There will be a presumption that companies like Google must removed links to such information unless there are particular public interest reasons justifying the public in having access to the information.

"This is a sensible decision but it is only the first step in people having property rights in their own information.

"The presumption by internet companies and others that they can use people's personal information in any way they see fit is wrong, and can only happen because the legal framework in most states is still in the last century when it comes to property rights in personal information.

"It is long past time that the western democracies grappled with this problem.

"As the next few decades will only see it becoming both ever more important and ever more problematic."

Picture: Shutterstock.com.

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