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No such thing as ‘right to be forgotten’ says minister

A government minister has waded into the row over whether people should have the right to remove archived newspaper stories from search engine listings.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes has told members of the House of Lords Home Affairs Committee that there is no such thing as a ‘right to be forgotten.’

A recent European Court ruling gave people the right to request the removal of “irrelevant” or “out of date” stories from search listings.

But Mr Hughes said that there was no “unfettered” right to have links removed and that referring to a ‘right to be forgotten’ was not “accurate or helpful”,

The minister made clear that the government was keen to balance the right of privacy with the right to freedom of speech.

Two local newspapers have vowed to defy the ruling by reporting the attempts to unindex the original stories and thereby giving them greater prominence than before.

Last week, the Oxford Mail published a report about the removal of a story about an archaeology specialist convicted in 2006 of trying to steal £200 worth of Christmas presents from Boots.

Its new story, which both named the convicted man and linked to its original 2006 story about his case, received more than 2,000 page views compared to 28 for the original.

Then fellow Newsquest title the Surrey Comet republished on its front page a 2010 report about a local college losing £443,000 on a disastrous fund-raising concert at Sandown Park.

Comet group editor Andrew Parkes said it would be his policy to republish such stories in the hope that the people making the requests will realise it is pointless.

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  • July 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Confusion isn’t the word. There is no ‘right to be forgotten’ – all that has happened here is that individuals can now ask to have references to them removed from search engines. I think the current tactic of media organisations publishing details of every such request received from Google, also remembering to point out you can still find everything you need on anyway, is sound.

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