Wikipedia says EU court ruling is Web 'censorship'

The "Wikipedia" logo is seen on a tablet screen on December 4, 2012 in Paris
The "Wikipedia" logo is seen on a tablet screen on December 4, 2012 in Paris

The foundation which operates the Wikipedia information website said Wednesday an EU court ruling on the right to be "forgotten" is creating "memory holes" in the Internet.

The ruling "is undermining the world's ability to freely access accurate and verifiable records about individuals and events," said Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation in a blog post.

Tretikov added that "the impact on Wikipedia is direct and critical."

She noted that Wikipedia had received notices that at least 50 links to its content were to be deleted.

"The decision does not mandate that search engines disclose link censorship," she said.

"We appreciate that some companies share our commitment to transparency and are providing public notice. This disclosure is essential for understanding the ruling's negative impacts on all available knowledge."

The comments are the latest to criticize the EU decision which ordered Google to remove links to information upon request from people in certain circumstances, such as if the data is outdated or inaccurate.

The European court "abandoned its responsibility to protect one of the most important and universal rights: the right to seek, receive, and impart information," Tretikov said.

Search results 'vanishing'

"As a consequence, accurate search results are vanishing in Europe with no public explanation, no real proof, no judicial review, and no appeals process. The result is an internet riddled with memory holes—places where inconvenient information simply disappears."

She said Wikipedia "will stand by its commitment to build the sum of all human knowledge through the protection of all of its sources" and will post notices "for each indefinite removal of Wikipedia search results."

British news media last month expressed concerns about the ruling, saying Google had restricted access to a BBC blog posting and several British newspaper stories.

BBC economics editor Robert Peston complained that Google had "killed this example of my journalism" after being informed that a 2007 posting about former Merrill Lynch chairman Stan O'Neal had been removed from certain searches in Europe.

The Guardian newspaper also said it had been notified that six links to its stories had been removed from , three of them about a 2010 controversy involving a now-retired Scottish Premier League referee.

Google said that as of July 18 it had received more than 91,000 requests to delete a combined total of 328,000 links under Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling.

The most requests came from France and Germany, with approximately 17,500 and 16,500 respectively, according to a copy of a letter Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer sent to an EU data protection committee.

Another 12,000 removal requests came from Britain, 8,000 from Spain, and 7,500 from Italy. Google said that 53 percent of the links targeted were removed.

Wikipedia separately published its first "transparency report" which showed it received 56 requests for user data from July 2012 to June 2014, and provided information in 14 percent of those cases. The requests included court orders, subpoenas, informal and formal government requests.

The site said it received 304 requests to remove , but granted none in that period.


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Citation: Wikipedia says EU court ruling is Web 'censorship' (2014, August 6) retrieved 14 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-08-wikipedia-eu-court-web-censorship.html
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Aug 06, 2014
It IS a path to censorship. If any person can have links removed then any government official, as a person, can have links removed. And you may think that you can still access the articles so its not too bad, but if its a law is valid that causes links to be removed then a law causing the article itself to be removed would also be valid.

Aug 07, 2014
I wonder how satisfying this process, this right to be forgotten, is for those who apply to have links deleted? OK, it's off the European Google sites, But it's still on Google in the rest of the world. And thus still easily accessible from anywhere in Europe. And furthermore your action is now subject to the attention of those who are trying to track this sort of activity. The page you are trying to draw attention away from might well end up with more scrutiny.

Aug 07, 2014
Good point alfie.

Aug 07, 2014
Adam, that's apples and oranges. If Google removes a search result, it doesn't erase it from Wikipedia.


In the US we call a law constitutional if the law is legal. I dont know what it would be called in EU so Ill just use that word, if you dont mind. If a law that forces removal of links is constitutional then a law that forces removal of articles would also be constitutional. They can change this law at any time to also include the original article.

Aug 07, 2014
No because they are links to personal information, not articles!


When they are getting 100k requests a month they wont have time to judge each and every link to make sure it is personal enough to qualify. They will just have to delete the link and then come back to it if there is an appeal.

Aug 07, 2014
Thanks for clearing that up, Adam. Shame they have to change the laws to do it. That could cause some problems.

It'll keep some lawyers and government employees working and in the black...

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