Google restores Guardian links but Robert Peston blog remains “forgotten” due to commenter request

 
Lynsey Barber
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Google faces backlog of "right to be forgotten" requests (Source: Getty)

Google has restored links to Guardian articles after they were removed by the search engine under the EUs “right to be forgotten” ruling, Reuters reports.

A link to a BBC blog post about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal written by economics editor Robert Peston remains “forgotten” however due to a request from someone who commented on the piece Google revealed.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today show, Google’s UK head of communications Peter Barron said: "It relates to an ordinary member of the public who left a comment on Robert's blog - maybe something embarrassing - and he contacted Google and asked to have that page removed from search results.

"If you search for Merrill Lynch it will appear. If you search for Stan O'Neal it will appear. Only if you search for the very narrow term of the name of the individual commenter would it not appear."

O'Neal responded to Reuters yesterday, saying: "I have no knowledge of it whatsoever."

Google has not commented on restoring the "forgotten" links to the Guardian.

The removal of the blog post from Google search results has caused concern among the UK press over fears information deemed to be in the public interest may be removed from search results.

Barron said Google was not being over-zealous in its removal of links although it opposed the ruling and is working through a backlog of 70,000 requests relating to 250,000 web pages.

"The European Court of Justice ruling was not something that we welcomed or wanted, but it is now the law in Europe and we are obliged to comply with that law. We are aiming to deal with it as responsibly as possible.”

He said Google had a difficult task making judgements on requests having to balance free expression, privacy and the public’s right to know.

"This is new territory for us all. We opposed the ruling. There's no right of appeal in the ECJ but we think it's important to have a public debate about this. This is a very, very important issue for the future of privacy, free expression and journalism.”

Barron also revealed that the internet giant has assembled a “committee of experts” to help navigate the issues.

In addition to the BBC and Guardian, other UK publishers including the Daily Mail and Independent have been notified that some of its articles have been removed from Google search results.

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