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Google Sparks Censorship Fears

Google Ready To Censor The Internet?


Google is at the centre of controversy on social media after it removed a seven-year-old article criticising a former Merrill Lynch chief executive. It was removed from the search engine on Thursday, and now the Internet giant is facing heavy criticism from all quarters due to its apparent censorship.

google censorship
Source: velocityagency.com

Google responded to the EU ruling on the “right to be forgotten” by removing various articles from its European search rankings, and this action led to accusations of censorship and over-reach. The blog post that has caused so much controversy was posted by Robert Peston and titled “Merrill’s mess,” it described how Stan O’Neal left the US investment bank after it suffered massive losses on high risk investments.

Mr Peston acknowledged that Google had banished his article from the Internet, and he stated that the company had in effect removed his article from the public eye, “given that Google is the route to information and stories for most people.”

Before the Internet giant had removed the article, he had received a “notice of removal,” telling him that his article would no longer appear in the results of Google searches. All this comes after a court hearing in May, when the European Court of Justice, ruled that individuals had the right to request the removal of search results if they deemed it “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” This rule will now be upheld even if the information was originally published in a legal manner, and it now poses the question, when does something that was relevant once become irrelevant?

Google opposed the decision that the court ruled, and responded by introducing an online form giving visitors to its European sites a formal route to make removal requests. As a result of this tactic by Google, within the first four days they received more than 41,000 requests.

Ben Bradshaw who is a former Labour culture secretary said that Google seemed to be over-interpreting the courts decision: “Mr Peston is right to say the information he published is still relevant […] I can’t see why Google would do this. It is either a mistake or could be an attempt by them to whip up a storm of indignation against the regulatory authorities in an attempt to influence the bigger battles to come.”

google censorship
Source: digitaltrends.com

In the end, Mr Peston conceded that he could be “the victim of teething problems,” as Google begins to implement the new rules. He later added: “There is an argument that in removing the blog, Google is confirming the fears of many in the industry that the ‘right to be forgotten’ will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.”

This is maybe the start of a transition period on the Internet, where free speech will be slowly drowned out. It is a worrying concept for many, as the Internet has long been seen as a space where anything goes, and where alternative opinions could be voiced. If rulings such as the one above continue, the Internet will be as regulated as the life that people lead away from the screens, and eventually people will feel claustrophobic, and the consequences could be dire for society.


Alex is an English Literature and Sociology undergraduate whose love for written word has led him to write about some obscure topics in his time. Currently a content writer at Social Media Frontiers, be sure to follow him @AlexSatSMF.

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Google Sparks Censorship Fears Reviewed by Alex Smith on Tuesday, July 08, 2014 Rating: 5
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