After a European Court ruled that individuals hold "the right to be forgotten" online, Google was forced to remove particular links. One website aims to keep a record of these actions.
Hidden from Google has curated a set of links removed following the ruling, which states that individuals can request links to be removed from internet searches if the pages contain information about them that is deemed "unfair, outdated and objectionable."
The "right to be forgotten" ruling was enforced in May. Under the terms of the court's decision, search engines can be forced to remove links to items that could, over time, be deemed irrelevant and incompatible with the 1995 Data Protection Directive. While some critics have argued the ruling is unfair and degrades the right to free speech, others have suggested this gives individuals more power to protect their privacy and digital footprint.
The website does provide a disclaimer, and states that "the Censored Search Term(s) field in the list above does not denote the individual who requested the removal of the link by Google. It only lists terms that have, at a given time, been censored on a Google EU domain."
The Hidden from Google website says:
This list is a way of archiving the actions of censorship on the internet. It is up to the reader to decide whether our liberties are being upheld or violated by the recent rulings by the EU.
Afaq Tariq, the US-based developer of the website says that journalists, news articles, and user submissions "are the biggest driving force here," and "In a few (rare) instances, we search for censored articles by search terms which are inspired by well known scandals/news stories in the recent past." Some users of the website, however, have questioned the validity and search terms provided.
At the moment, 15 examples are on the list, each of which are checked on both the US and EU Google search engine versions — as the court ruling only impacts European search results. However, Tariq has requested other developers' assistance in order to process and fact-check new submissions.