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Data removal requests for Google

A host of further 'right to be forgotten' requests have been received by Google in the wake of a European court ruling, it has emerged.

The latest requests to remove information from Google search results include a man who tried to kill members of his own family, and has requested that links to a news story about the incident be removed.

Other requests include one from an actor who had an affair with a teenager asking for links to articles to be hidden, and the child of a celebrity who has asked for links to stories about a criminal conviction taken down.

Sources confirmed that more than half the requests from the UK to remove data have come from those with a criminal conviction.

These latest removal requests come a day after a British politician seeking re-election made requests to Google to have results removed from the search engine following the ruling at the European Court of Justice.

The court ruled that people had the "right to be forgotten", and could request that articles in Google search results that tarnished their reputation be removed from Google searches linked to them.

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 had received negative feedback online, the Mail Online reported.

The original case regarding the right to be forgotten was brought by a Spanish man who claimed his privacy had been infringed by an auction notice for his repossessed home.

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 takedown 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 been leading 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 and called it " 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 rewriting 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 from 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 remove 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."


From Belfast Telegraph