1. In 2010, three British soldiers were attacked in a Bolton nightclub and said it was worse than facing insurgents in Afghanistan.
The trio faced punches and kicks while one was stabbed in the neck and leg with broken glass. Three of their attackers were jailed for their violent behaviour.
This was a big story in Bolton at the time, but someone doesn’t want local people – or anyone else – to read it. The Bolton News was told this week that the story had been affected by Google’s “right to be forgotten” rule, through which people can apply for stories that are outdated or irrelevant to be removed from certain search results.
The rule only applies in the EU and was the result of a narrow ruling in the EU Court of Justice in May.
2. The paper’s response? To call the article’s removal from search results a “completely pointless exercise”. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Ian Savage, says:
As the editor of a newspaper, I believe passionately in the freedom of the press and I will fight any attempts to remove legitimate content.
We are a responsible newspaper and our aim is to cover local news which is of both interest and importance to people.
Clearly, people who aren’t happy that stories which we have legitimately published should not have the right to have them removed from a Google search, in my view.
Moreover, it is a completely pointless exercise. Those who ask for these articles to be removed simply invite more publicity on themselves.
This was an extremely serious court case, which merited a front page when we ran it back in 2010.
To have this disappear from Google searches is frankly ridiculous, which is why I feel it’s so important to highlight this issue.
3. This is just the latest in a string of UK publishers to be affected by the “right to be forgotten” rule, and it won’t be the last.
These articles aren’t deleted from the internet, or even from Google entirely – they just won’t show up when you search for specific things mentioned in the article.
But because Google won’t say who is applying for things or which search terms are affected, we don’t know who is trying to suppress what.
We do know, however, that news publishers don’t like this ruling and every time one of their stories is affected they are going to make some noise and attract attention to the very thing someone wants you not to read.
Whether the EU legislators behind this rule are aware of the Streisand Effect they have created is unclear.
Don’t forget that if you want your search results free of EU meddling, the US-based google.com is unaffected by “right to be forgotten”.