Google deletes search results about millionaire banker blamed for causing financial crisis and referee who lied as 'right to be forgotten' kicks in on European searches
- Search engine reveals it is removing a series of stories from its results
- It follows EU ruling that gives people 'right to be forgotten' online
- MailOnline publisher says right to erase history is a 'nonsense'
- An article about former Merrill Lynch chief Stan O’Neal was wiped
- Another request relates to Scottish referee Dougie McDonald
- Google refuses to comment and will not reveal who made requests
Google caused anger last night as it began removing stories from its search engine as its new censorship regime came into force.
A story about a millionaire banker blamed for helping cause the global financial crisis was among the first to be hidden.
And a top flight referee who lied about a penalty incident and an airline accused of racism by a Muslim job applicant are among a series of MailOnline stories censored from Google.
Scroll down for video
Censored: A story about controversial Scottish referee Dougie McDonald is one of the first MailOnline pieces to be removed from Google's search results
Erasing history: The search engine giant is complying with an EU ruling last month that people have the right to have 'inadequate' and 'irrelevant' results about them wiped from the web
The search engine firm has removed links to a series of stories from Google search results under the new - and highly controversial - 'right to be forgotten' granted earlier this year by European judges.
The stories have not been removed by MailOnline, which described the move as similar to 'burning books in a library'.
Other major websites, including the BBC and The Guardian have also had specific stories removed from search engine results when internet users search on Google's UK and other European sites.
The landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice last month gave people the right to have 'irrelevant' and outdated data erased for internet users who enter specific search terms, usually names, on request.
But critics say it allows people to manage their reputations and effectively erase history.
Google has already disclosed that it has been asked by MPs, celebrities and public figures to have search results removed. It has employed a team of workers to evaluate each request.
MailOnline has now received notification from Google of which links it has decided to remove.
They include a story about Dougie McDonald, who was a Scottish top-flight football referee who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match; a story about Tesco workers posting stories on social media attacking their workers; a story about a couple caught having sex on a Virgin train; and a story about a Muslim man who accused Cathay Pacific, the airline, of refusing to employ him because of his name.
Another story Google is taking down is about a couple arrested for allegedly having sex in a crowded train carriage like the one pictured
The notices informing publishers of requests to take down stories include a link to this page outlining Google's policy
MailOnline publisher Martin Clarke said: 'These examples show what a nonsense the right to be forgotten is. It is the equivalent of going into libraries and burning books you don't like.
'MailOnline intends to regularly publish lists of articles deleted from Google's European search results so people can keep track of what has been deleted.
'There is no suggestion any of these articles are inaccurate.'
Google said it would assess each request and balance 'privacy rights of the individual with the public's right to know and distribute information'.
'It is the equivalent of going into libraries and burning books you don't like'
Martin Clarke, MailOnline
But, the search engine also said it refuses to comment on individual removal requests and told MailOnline it will not reveal who made them.
Anyone searching for these articles using the blocked search terms on google.com – the U.S. version of Google – will still see them appear.
The European Court of Justice, which is the supreme court of the European Union, ruled last month that people have the right to have 'inadequate' and 'irrelevant' results about them wiped from the web, which led to the company being bombarded with requests.
Google has already had 50,000 requests to remove data and started to take down search results last week.
Searches for people's names now include a message at the bottom of the results page that says results 'may have been removed under data protection law in Europe'.
This warning appears on all results, regardless of the name that has been searched for, and is not an indicator that the specific person has requested links be deleted.
Last month’s decision, which affects 500million people, requires search services to remove items deemed 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant' - and failure to do so can result in fines.
Searches for 'Dougie McDonald referee' include this notice from Google
A Google search at google.co.uk using the terms 'dougie mcdonald referee'
Complaints over Google’s interpretation of the court ruling could be taken to the Information Commissioner’s Office, but lawyers believe famous people may not want to fight a high-profile case that will draw more attention to what they are trying to get taken down.
Legal experts have previously commented that the criteria for determining which take-down requests are legitimate is not completely clear from the EU court’s decision.
Google has therefore had to painstakingly sort through the requests and earlier this month sent notifications to people who requested a removal, asking them to bear with the search engine.
RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN ONLINE
Under the European Data Protection Regulation, Article 17 includes the ‘right to be forgotten and to erasure’.
Under Article 17, people who are mentioned in the data have the right to ‘obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data relating to them and the abstention from further dissemination of such data.'
This particularly relates to data about the person when they were a child, when the data is no longer relevant or necessary for the purpose it was collected, the person who owns the content withdraws their consent, the storage period has expired, or if it was gathered illegally.
The EU defines ‘data controllers’ as ‘people or bodies that collect and manage personal data’.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation means any data controller who has been asked to remove data must ‘take all reasonable steps, including technical measures' to remove it.
If a data controller does not take these steps they can be heavily fined.
It plans on ramping up the speed of the process when it is sure that the systems put in place are effective.
Other publishers have been affected, including the BBC, whose economics correspondent Robert Peston disclosed that a blog he had written about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O'Neal had been censored.
Written in 2007, it was about how O’Neal was forced out as head of Merrill Lynch after the banking giant suffered colossal losses on reckless investments.
Last night Peston complained Google had cast his 2007 blog into ‘oblivion’, and wrote: ‘Is the data in it “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”? Hmmm.
'Most people would argue that it is highly relevant for the track record, good or bad, of a business leader to remain on the public record - especially someone widely seen as having played an important role in the worst financial crisis in living memory (Merrill went to the brink of collapse the following year, and was rescued by Bank of America).’
A BBC spokesman said: 'We're surprised that this is the outcome of the ECJ ruling and concerned at the implications of the removal from search of this type of material.'
There are already signs of a backlash against the new policy. As word spread on Twitter, users were urging each other to retweet the name of Mr O’Neal – who left the bank with $250million (£145million) – to start him ‘trending’ on the social media site.
Although he was the subject of the now-removed Peston blog, it does not mean Mr O’Neal was necessarily the person who applied for the censorship. Google does not identify people who have made requests to scrub a page from its search engine.
Its letters to news organisations state: ‘We regret to inform you that we are no longer able to show the following pages from your website in response to certain searches on European versions of Google.’
The censorship only applies to the internet giant’s British and European search sites. In theory this blocks Europe’s 368million people from seeing certain pages.
A blog Robert Peston wrote about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O'Neal (pictured) has been censored. The millionaire banker was blamed for helping cause the global financial crisis
The BBC's Robert Peston complained Google had cast his 2007 blog into 'oblivion'
But in a sign of how un-enforceable the new rules may become, users can easily bypass them by going to Google.com, the US version.
Internet pioneer Jimmy Wales, who created Wikipedia, said the system was doomed to fail because of this fact.
Thousands of people have applied to have embarrassing information about them removed from searches.
Large amounts of material could disappear from public reach as a direct result.
Some of the articles that Google has taken down from its results:
In November 2010, we reported how under-fire referee Dougie McDonald delivered a withering blast at Scottish football as he finally bowed to mounting pressure and quit the game.
McDonald, who was found to have lied about his reasons for granting a penalty in a Celtic v Dundee United match, took a pot shot at former Parkhead winger Aiden McGeady and Dundee United manager Peter Houston.
McDonald could not resist one final verbal volley at the SFA, claiming their lack of support led to a weekend strike by Scottish match officials, while pointing the finger at McGeady and Houston for allegedly questioning his integrity.
In February 2009, we told how a Muslim airport worker accused airline Cathay Pacific of racism after he was refused a job interview – only to be offered one when he applied two days later using a fake white British-sounding name.
Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport.
Mr Zakhrouf was told by email he had not been selected for interview.
But applying 48 hours later as 'Ian Woodhouse' with an identical CV and home address, he was invited for an interview by the same personnel officer who had first refused him.
Mr Zakhrouf, who had lengthy experience in the airline industry, refused to attend.
Instead he called his union, Unite, which planned to bring a case accusing Cathay Pacific of racial discrimination to an employment tribunal.
In January 2009, we told how Britain's biggest supermarket faced embarrassment after dozens of employees posted abusive comments about its customers on the internet.
Tesco chiefs said they would be looking at the remarks, which include four-letter insults and references to shoppers being smelly, stupid, rude and moronic.
More than 60 staff contributed to the tirade in a discussion forum on the Facebook social networking site, which could be read by anyone with access to the internet.
One, who identified himself as Benjamin Clarke, from Leeds, wrote: ‘I had a guy on Saturday ... who complained about the prices of the reduced mini cucumbers from £1.29 to 64p. Hmmm, how expensive. Cheap ****!’
Among the other staff members were Rob Richardson, from Newcastle, Scott Harrop, Gawain Duly, from Brighton, Zara Ashley Earl, Claire Biggs-Tandy, from Coventry, Sudhir Shah, from the West Midlands.
Most watched News videos
- Cops taser man that tried to carjack mom's vehicle with kids in back
- Woman's hilarious reaction to 'tiny dress' online shopping fail
- Body Cam footage shows officer shoot a man who charged at him
- Coach crashes off mountain road on popular tourist island Madeira
- Queen attends the annual Maundy Thursday service at Windsor Castle
- The Queen and Princess Eugenie attend Maundy Thursday service
- Presenter blasts activist for telling people to miss work and protest
- Emmanuel Macron vows to rebuild Notre Dame in five years after blaze
- Lisa Marie Presley avoids questions on Leaving Neverland
- Armed militia catch asylum seekers after they cross US border
- Speeding cyclist flips over garden wall after painful crash
- Heartbreaking moment Orangutan tries to stop a bulldozer