INTERNET giant Google has received demands for details of people’s criminal activities to be suppressed in the wake of a controversial European court ruling.
People lodging requests for the search engine to delete links to stories or information about their pasts include a man who tried to kill members of his own family.
Other applicants include the child of a celebrity who has asked for links to stories about a criminal conviction to be taken down. The demands follow a ruling at the European Court of Justice that people have the “right to be forgotten” and therefore can request the removal of articles from Google search results if they tarnish their reputation.
Tuesday’s court ruling has been hailed as a “sensible decision” by David Davis, Conservative MP for Haltemprice & Howden.
Mr Davis said: “There will be a presumption that companies like Google must remove links to such information unless there are particular public interest reasons justifying the public in having access to the information.
“This is a sensible decision but it is only the first step in people having property rights in their own information.
“The presumption by internet companies and others that they can use people’s personal information in any way they see fit is wrong, and can only happen because the legal framework in most states is still in the last century when it comes to property rights in personal information.It is long past time that the western democracies grappled with this problem as the next few decades will only see it becoming both ever more important and ever more problematic.”
However, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has described the court’s decision as “astonishing” and “one of the most wide-sweeping internet censorship rulings that I’ve ever seen”.
He later tweeted: “When will a European Court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn’t like it?”
Emma Carr, acting director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “Those arguing that this ruling is a successful move towards ‘the right to be forgotten’ are quite simply wrong, it is going to be of huge detriment to freedom of speech.”
Google has declined to comment on the suppression requests, but expressed its disappointment when the ruling was made earlier this week.
A Google spokesman said: “The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests.
“This is logistically complicated – not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review.
“As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.”