Hidden From Google shows the 'right to be forgotten' is pointless


It's a little while since a European Court of Justice ruling forced Google to start removing search links to certain articles. Dubbed the "right to be forgotten", the ruling led Google to create an online form making it easier for people to get in touch about search results relating to them thought to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant". But just like those requests from celebrities to stop publishing compromising images online, it seems like asking for search links to be censored serves only to highlight the existence of the web pages they correspond to.

The court's decision that people should be able to request that information about them be removed from Google searches came after Spaniard Mr Costeja González took exception to links to stories about a series of old debts he had. There are now few people who follow news about Google who are not aware that Mr González has a less than perfect credit history. It's not clear whether he regards the ruling as a personal victory, but the appearance of Hidden From Google is sure to ruffle the feathers of many who have submitted similar removal requests to the search giant.

The site exists for one very simple reason:

"The purpose of this site is to list all links which are being censored by search engines due to the recent ruling of "Right to be forgotten" in the EU.

This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the Internet. It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU".

Hidden From Google comprises a simple "list of search results omitted, erased, or censored" by Google. Numbers are fairly small at the moment, but visitors are encouraged to submit links they discover. Dear Mr González's story is recorded for posterity, and there are other stories from around Europe. Among them, the tale of an archaeology specialist who tried to steal toiletries from a shop in Oxford, UK. Hidden from Google helpfully links to a story about why the story was removed -- the newspaper in question labels the right to be forgotten as "censorship and open to abuse by criminals and the powerful who will try to hide information from the public".

The appearance of a site like Hidden From Google was just about inevitable. It perfectly demonstrates the futility of censoring search results, and it will be interesting to see how the complainants react to their removal requests being advertised.

Image Credit: Maxx-Studio/Shutterstock

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