Right to be Forgotten Lands on Wikipedia

The right to be forgotten ruling has caused a serious rift in the discussion of online censorship, news reporting and what’s in the public. The latest link removal request has now hit Wikipedia.

jimmy wales

Jimmy Wales Photo: Lane Hartwell / Wikimedia Foundation

Right now we still do not know the identity of the person that made the request (that’s kind of the idea). However, once The Guardian and BBC were alerted recently about links to their news stories being hidden, they had no bones about drawing attention to the requests, thus undoing much of the work that had been done by the applicant in the first place.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been a firm opponent of the right to be forgotten ruling since its inception in May by the European Court of Justice. The ruling only affects links appearing on Google in Europe and can still be accessed globally.

“It’s completely insane and it needs to be fixed,” he said. This news is sure to be exactly what Wales didn’t want to happen to his site.

He now sits on an advisory group, assembled by Google, which will devise best practices for take down requests. They will meet in Madrid on September 9.

Google has received more than 90,000 takedown requests since May, which has been proving unmanageable so far, even for the tech giant.

“The law as it stands right now is quite confusing,” Wales added in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “We have this one ruling of the ECJ which is very open-ended and very hard to interpret.”

“I would say the biggest problem we have is that the law seems to indicate Google needs to censor links to information that is clearly public – links to articles in legally published, truthful news stories.

“That is a very dangerous path to go down, and certainly if we want to go down a path where we are going to be censoring history, there is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions.”