Google tells UK media which of their stories it is hiding from search results

Deleting links to articles is a huge, if indirect, challenge to press freedom, The Guardian said

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

The BBC also reported that Google had erased from the search results a link to one of its articles, a column about how Stan O'Neal, the former CEO of investment bank Merril Lynch, was forced out after the bank suffered heavy losses on reckless investments.

However, while O'Neal is the only person named in the column, it remains findable when you search for his name, said economics editor Robert Peston who wrote the article. "The implication is that oblivion was requested not by anyone who appears in the blog itself [...] but by someone named in the comments written by readers underneath the blog," he said, adding that Google won't tell him who made the request.

Google confirmed reports it had received over 70,000 removal requests so far. On the first day it received 12,000, but the rate has now slowed to around 1,000 per day.

The publishers cannot fight the removals with Google directly. Anyone who disagrees with one of Google's decisions can contact their local Data Protection Authority (DPA), Google states in an online FAQ.

"This is a new and evolving process for us. We'll continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as we comply with the ruling," Google said.

The Daily Mail and The Guardian called the deletion of search results censorship.

The Guardian called on publishers to fight back, saying that critical articles that raise serious political, moral or ethical questions should not be allowed to disappear. "To do so is a huge, if indirect, challenge to press freedom," it said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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