BBC publishes right to be forgotten links for transparency

29 Jun 2015

Google are unlikely to be too pleased with the decision taken by management in the BBC to publish a list of links that have been removed from the search engine as part of the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, which the broadcaster says was a transparency decision.

The right to be forgotten ruling, which allows an individual or organisation to submit an appeal to remove a particular link or links to be removed if they feel it hurts their reputation to be searchable, has caused controversy among media organisations over claims it facilitates censorship.

While still available on the published websites, its removal from Google effectively removes it from the vast majority of internet users who use the search engine to find news.

And now, according to the BBC, it wants to make it clear as an act of transparency what links have been removed, and will continue to do so each month from here on in, with more than 182 links posted as part of this month’s list.

“We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy,” said the BBC’s managing director Neil McIntosh. “We think it is important that those with an interest in the ‘right to be forgotten’ can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue.”

The removal requests go right back to July 2014, when the process became open to the public, the BBC’s list now includes hundreds of examples, ranging from stories about a lost dog in 2002 to ones critical of Premier League footballers.

A recent survey of the links that have been requested to be removed were shown to be mostly (58.7pc) related to issues which were seen as an invasion of privacy, with 11.2pc of applicants claiming defamation in the articles.

BBC offices image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic