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Don’t do it, Google urged on ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Westminster peers have called on Internet giant Google not to co-operate with the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling that covers up people’s pasts.

The European Court of Justice decision to remove on request irrelevant and outdated material from search engines is “unreasonable, unworkable and wrong in principle,” a Lords committee has warned.

Already Google says it is being made to act as ‘judge and jury’ after agreeing to more than half the requests to delete “irrelevant and outdated” information.

Paedophiles, politicians and doctors are among more than 90,000 people who have demanded to have their pasts erased since the May ruling by the European Court of Justice

Baroness Prashar, co-author of the Lords report, said: “We believe that it’s wrong in principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria.”

She said that individuals should not have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, “simply because they do not like what is said.”

The chairwoman of the Lords Home Affairs, Health and Education EU sub-committee added that the belief among the peers was that the judgment of the European court is “unworkable.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has given his own version on the ruling, saying search engines must not be left to “censor history.”

He added: “That is a very dangerous path to go down. There is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions.”

Since the ruling a number of regional newspaper stories have been deleted from search engine listings including some reporting past criminal cases.

The Bolton News editor-in-chief Ian Savage attacked the ruling after a 2010 court report on the jailing of three men for a nightclub assault on three soldiers who had all served in Afghanistan was erased from Google searches.

He told HTFP earlier this month: “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.