Google Removing Article by BBC Raises Fears of Censorship

European Union officials and British politicians expressed great concern Thursday after it came to light that an article that is seven years old that criticizes a former CEO at Merrill Lynch was to be removed from search results on Google.

This action by Google come as the search giant on Internet responds to the ruling in the EU on “right to be forgotten,” through removing articles from its search rankings in Europe, leading to accusations of over-reach and censorship.

The article is Merrill’s Mess and was from a blog post in 2007 by Robert Peston, now the economic editor at BBC. It describes reasons why Stan O’Neal left the investment bank in the U.S. after the bank suffered big losses on some risky investments.

Peston in a Wednesday blog post said Google had removed his post from 2007 from public record. Peston wrote that given that Google represents a route to stories and information for the majority of people, his article will no longer be a part of the public record.

He earlier had received from Google a notice of removal, which informed him his article was not going to appear any longer in results of certain searches.

The highest court in the European Union in May ruled that individuals could request to have search results removed that are linked to irrelevant, no longer relevant or inadequate personal data even if the piece that information is located was published legally.

Google opposed the decision by the court, but responded by advising people they could fill out a form online to make formal requests for removal.

Forty-one thousand requests were received in just the first four days the form was available.

Two senior officials with the EU said the removal by Google of the BBC article represented a misinterpretation of the ruling by the EU’s highest court.

Earlier in 2014, Viviane Reding said the court made it clear that one thing that could not be touched was journalistic work as it was to be protected.

Legal experts have said the decision to take Peston’s article down highlighted the difficulty of interpreting this new law by the EU.

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