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Wikipedia founder questions ‘right to be forgotten’

The founder of Wikipedia has waded into the row over the so-called ‘ right to be forgotten’ saying search engines must not be left to “censor history.”

Since May’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling giving people the right to ask for ‘irrelevant and outdated’ stories to be removed from search listings, Google has received about 91,000 such requests.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The law seems to indicate Google needs to censor links to information that is clearly public – links to articles in legally published, truthful news stories.

“That is a very dangerous path to go down, and 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.”

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

However some newspapers have responded by running stories about the deletions which link to the original reports, thereby ensuring they received renewed publicity.