Google (Europe) continues to give people the “right” to be forgotten. Those whose requests are upheld become more difficult to find; Google’s European search engines no longer link to web page/s which offend or upset a complainant.
There are ways around this, some of which are detailed in my earlier post, Wrong to be forgotten. One way is to make the complaint public. The “Streisand effect” comes into play, by which a complainant gets more publicity for having made a complaint than was achieved by the original report, drawing attention to oneself.
Debora Weber-Wulff today announces that she too has had links removed from one of her web pages, in a post entitled Notice of removal from Google Search. Google gives no right of appeal, nor indication of who made the complaint, so Dr Weber-Wulff has kindly furnished the names of the 36 plagiarists and possible plagiarists (some of whom were cleared by their universities despite strong evidence against) who were named on the offending web page. These 36 are amongst “50 cases of plagiarism in dissertations or habilitations” as Weber-Wulff puts it. (The names of the remaining 14 plagiarists and possible plagiarists appear in a later post.) It might have been any of the 36 who made the request to Google.
Her post today reminds me of a recent item in BBC News, Google removes 12 BBC News links in ‘right to be forgotten.’ The BBC’s report helpfully lists the 12 removed sites. Ah, the oxygen of publicity (as Mrs T. might have put it).
Not a million miles from the right to be forgotten may be the “right” never to be made known. It probably doesn’t apply to everyone, only to those with power. I am thinking in particular of a recent UK government report, Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts, By Redacted, Rural Community Policy Unit. Although dated March 2014, it appears to have been released only recently. Shale gas drilling, otherwise known as fracking, is a matter of debate in UK right now. Many are against the practice, it seems highly controversial for any number of reasons; the present government is in favour, and wants to “sell” it to the public. Thus this discussion paper.
The paper is notable for the amount of information not made public. Much of the report has been redacted – removed from the record.
And here, on page 12, the last piece of discussion which leads to the paper’s concluding statements.
In an article on the release of the report, Fracking campaigners criticise ‘censored’ report on house prices, the Guardian noted that the heavily censored report was accompanied by a letter which said:
“There is a strong public interest in withholding the information because it is important that officials can consider implications of potential impacts and scenarios around the development of the shale gas industry and to develop options without the risk that disclosure of early thinking could close down discussion.”
Doublespeak? Unspeak? In plain English, this seems to mean “We did not want to prejudice the discussions by giving you facts, so we have withheld some of the evidence which might help you make or reach an informed decision.”
Nothing to hide, nothing to fear (as they say)?