From Monday people in the UK and the rest of the European Union will no longer be able to bypass a ban on searching for information which an individual has asked to be removed from the net by Google.
Until now the removal of information by hundreds of thousands of people can easily be circumvented by searching on Google.com, the US version of the search engine.
The decision is a victory for privacy campaigners though Inforrm thinks it may not go far enough for some.
Nearly 50,000 people in the UK are among the 400,000 who have requested for information to be removed. As Inforrm reports:
” Large numbers of delisting requests are now being made under the Google Spain ruling. Google’s most recent transparency report indicates that it has received 400,564 removal requests and has removed 42.6% of URLs covered by them. Google has received 48,979 requests from the United Kingdom and has removed 184,115 URLs (38.6% of those requested).”.
While one can understand that people should have the right to remove false information from search engines what concerns me is there is little transparency. One does not know who has requested the removal of the information and what information has been removed. Google just issues a statement to say that some posts are no longer available. Of course the post remains but people will have difficulty in finding it unless they subscribe to a particular blog.
Google has attempted with a FAQ to explain the main points behind the decision to delist – and there appears to be a view that there where there it is obviously not in the public interest or the person is a political or public figure the request will be denied.
Google’s ban will not be foolproof – networks like Tor which is also used by the dark web – could mask the IP address of a person searching for the information. I suspect that investigative journalists will use this more as a new way of bypassing this ban if they want to do thorough searches.