EU's 'right to be forgotten' law hits Wikipedia

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A Wikipedia entry was removed from search results for the first time today as a part of Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation, according to the BBC.

So far, no one has identified which link will be removed from search results or who made the request. The link’s removal was first reported by the Observer in a profile about Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales.

On September 9 in Madrid, Wales will serve on a panel, chosen by Google, charged with developing search engine guidelines for dealing with link removal requests related to the ‘right to be forgotten’ law. “The legislation is completely insane and needs to be fixed,” said Wales in the Observer profile.

The “right to be forgotten” rule emerged out of a 2010 lawsuit brought against Google and a Spanish newspaper by Mario Costeja González because he felt a 1998 article regarding the sale of his house being auctioned to cover bank debts was no longer relevant and reflected poorly on him.

A Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in Mr.González’ favor. The ruling said that, though the newspaper didn’t need to amend or remove the article, Google would have to stop linking to it in search results.

The law has lead to a barrage of link removal requests, upwards of 91,000, and as a result Google has removed over 100,000 links.

Google has had difficulty enforcing the law in a meaningful way. Initially many articles from the Guardian and BBC were delinked, causing an uproar in the media. Articles involving high profile individuals in key events, like the ousting of a former Merrill Lynch chief executive, were suddenly missing from search results. Google responded to the backlash by promising not to censor the work of journalists.

This new panel in Madrid is the company’s latest attempt to maintain freedom of speech rights while honoring the privacy of individuals and the rights they are entitled to.

We’ve reached out to Jimmy Wales as well as Wikipedia’s press team and will update this story with details as they come in.

More information:

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

Wikipedia is a project operated by a non-profit organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, and created and maintained by a strong community of 80,000 international active volunteer editors. Founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia has be... read more »

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