A regional daily editor has vowed to resist the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ after Google erased one of his paper’s stories from searches.
Google has notified Newsquest Oxfordshire, publishers of the Oxford Mail, that it has removed from its search listings a story about Robert Daniels-Dwyer, an archaeology specialist who was convicted of trying to steal £200 worth of Christmas presents from Boots in Oxford in 2006.
It follows the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice which allows people to apply to the search engine giant to have “irrelevant” or “out of date” stories removed.
However although the ruling will make it harder for the public to find the stories they are searching for on Google, it does not mean news websites such as the Mail’s have to take their original stories down.
Mail editor Simon O’Neill said the paper would resist the move which he branded “an attempt to rewrite history.”
It has published a story about the removal of the search listing in which it both names Daniels-Dwyer and links to the original story about his case.
Said Simon: “The ruling by the European Court of Justice is, in reality, an assault on the public’s right to know perfectly legitimate information.
“The problem is that it will be misused by criminals, politicians, celebrities and charlatans to stop the public learning inconvenient or embarrassing information.
“If anything, the Right To Be Forgotten, as this ruling has been called, will really become the Right To Censorship.
“It is an attempt to re-write history. Nothing else, and you can’t just suddenly pretend an event has not happened.
“We often get complaints from convicted criminals that publishing stories about them invades their privacy or is unfair but the simple fact is if they didn’t go out committing crime and appearing in court then there would not be a story.
“We will resist this move to stop you, the public, knowing perfectly legitimate information about people.”
The paper reported that Daniels-Dwyer had previously attempted to have the story taken off the Mail’s websites via a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.
It said he had demanded that Newsquest “should purge the article from all databases, internally and externally available, and from any news databases to which it provides content.”
However although two factual amendments were made to the article, the PCC dismissed his case.
The Mail says it has had other people demanding stories about them be removed under the Right To Be Forgotten including a businessman who claimed his drink driving conviction was affecting his reputation.