London: Google is set to restrict search terms to a link to a Wikipedia article, in the first request under Europe’s controversial new “right to be forgotten” legislation to affect the 110m-page encyclopaedia.
The identity of the individual requesting a change to Google’s search results has not been disclosed and may never be known, but it is understood the request will be put into effect within days. Google and other search engines can only remove the link — as with other “right to be forgotten” requests, the web page itself will remain on Wikipedia.
In May, the European Court of Justice ruled that citizens could ask search engines to remove particular links from results for a search made under their name, if the material was deemed to be out of date, no longer relevant or excessive.
Google has already begun to implement the ruling, with tens of thousands of links removed from its European search results to sites ranging from the BBC to the London-based Daily Express. Among the data now “hidden” from Google is an article about the 2009 Muslim conversion of Adam Osborne, brother of the UK’s finance minister, George Osborne.
Jimmy Wales, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 and has overseen its transformation into the sixth most visited site on the Internet, said: “It’s completely insane and it needs to be fixed.”
Wales is one of 10 members of an advisory council formed by Google to decide how to handle takedown requests. The council will travel Europe, with a first hearing scheduled in Madrid on September 9, before writing guidance for Google and other search engines, such as Microsoft’s Bing, on implementing the new law.
It was a test case brought by a Spaniard called Mario Costeja Gonzalez, who wanted a 1998 article about his home being repossessed removed from search results, that triggered the change in legislation.