Wikipedia Founder Speaks Out Against New 'Right to Be Forgotten' Rule
Google's latest move in adhering to the recent European Court of Justice's (ECJ) 'Right to be forgotten' law has stepped on the toes of free information resource Wikipedia.
The search giant is to obstruct search terms for a link to a Wikipedia page, following the request an un-named individual. Under the controversial new law, all search engines are required to delete "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" data from their results when requested to do so by members of the public.
In line with this, search engines that include Bing, Google and Yahoo have set up web applications which allow people to submit requests to have articles about themselves removed. Since the law came into play in May, Google has received more than 91,000 takedown requests relating to over 300,000 pages.
The inflammatory ruling is seen as dangerous and ridiculous by many, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and BBC journalists who have had their work removed from Google, such as Robert Peston.
Mr Wales, who will later be advising Google when he helps the UK parliament strategize search engine law recommendations, has spoken against the EJC law for triggering a "precarious situation".
He commented: "...if we want to go down a path where we are going to be censoring history, there is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions."
In addition to this serious concern, statistics have shown that a person making requests for information to be removed from search engines will suffer the opposite effect if it becomes publically known, since curiosity drives more viral fever than if the information were left to simmer down.
This fact has been dubbed 'The Streisand Effect'. In 2003 singer Barbra Streisand unsuccessfully sued photographer Kenneth Adelman for including her Malibu home in his shots of the California coastline. This backfired - an image of her property, which had previously only been downloaded six times, drove 420,000 visits to a site it had been published on thanks to the publicity.