Wikipedia says the 'right to be forgotten' is leaving an Internet "riddled with memory holes"

Wikipedia fights back against 'right to be forgotten'

Wikipedia has listed all of its articles removed from search results as a result of Europe's ‘right to be forgotten’, in protest at the controversial court ruling.

The Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organisation that runs the free online encyclopaedia, said that it had received notices from search engines affecting more than 50 links to Wikipedia pages.

In its first public statement against the ruling from Europe's top court in May confirming that people can stop irrelevant or outdated personal information from appearing under searches for their name, the foundation said it would publish each notice for the removal of a link to a Wikipedia page.

"Accurate search results are vanishing in Europe with no public explanation, no real proof, no judicial review, and no appeals process," wrote Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation on its blog.

"The result is an Internet riddled with memory holes – places where inconvenient information simply disappears."

Wikimedia had received five notices affecting over 50 links across the British, Italian and Dutch versions of Wikipedia by yesterday, it said, and that it was posting the removal notices in the interests of free speech and transparency.

Google, which handles around 90 per cent of searches in Europe, said it had received over 90,000 requests under the right to be forgotten by July 18 and was accepting over half of them.

The search engine giant has been criticised for notifying publishers that a link to their website has been removed, a method that can draw unwanted attention to the page in question and feed speculation over who made the request.

"Our concern is that these notifications generate a lot of confusion, and in some ways undercut the request itself by bringing people's names back into the open," Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, who heads France's privacy watchdog and the WP29 group of EU national data protection authorities, said in an interview with Reuters.

But Google says it is necessary to ensure transparency and already notifies the owners of websites that are removed from search results because of copyright infringements.

Under the ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), search engines are required to take into account the public's interest in knowing certain information about famous or public figures when evaluating removal requests, and the court said a balance must be struck between the freedom of information and privacy.

But, the person requesting that the link be removed is not necessarily the one named in the article and could be one whose name appears in the comment section.

"The disclosure of the link alone is not too helpful as you have no idea what name on the page asked for link to come down," said Lilian Edwards, a professor of Internet law.

The Lords Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee said last month that the 'right to be forgotten' is unworkable and unreasonable and should be written out of future EU law.

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