We’ve all been there. Hanging on the phone for an age when you just want to get someone to talk to about a service you pay for. Pressure mounts.
But when Teessider Ashley Gibbins got angry at being put on hold for an hour by NTL, he recorded a message littered with four-letter swear words cable helpline for other customers to hear.
Teesside magistrates later cleared him of a charge under the Communications Act ruling it was not “grossly offensive” and a complaint to Google made sure the story reported by the BBC was removed from its search engine.
The case is just one of those which Google has dealt with since the European Court of Justice ruling last year which gave individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results. Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals.
Now the BBC has decided to make those requests public and is producing a monthly list of those stories which someone would rather you forget.
They include these cases in the North during May:
- A Lancashire police officer who claimed his force racially discriminated against him in a row over petrol expenses has settled the dispute out of court.
- A conman dubbed the “King of Marbella” and his three accomplices who were jailed over a £675,000 bank fraud where they electronically moved the cash to other accounts from their office near Preston
- An appeal for a missing Altrincham man believed to have travelled to Cumbria.
Explaining the moves, managing editor Neil McIntosh said the BBC was ‘doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy.”
He blogged: “The BBC has decided to make clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google’s search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, we’ll republish this list with new removals added at the top.
“We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.”
They are not the first online publisher to make the Google requests public. Last year Google notified The Bolton News that its story about the jailing of three men for an attack on three soldiers in a nightclub was to be “erased” from Google searches under a controversial EU ruling.
At that time, Trinity Mirror’s digital publishing director, responsible for the regional websites, David Higgerson also revealed that ‘many’ of their newsrooms were dealing with calls demanding content be removed from online archives.
The pages affected by delinking may disappear from Google searches, but they do still exist online.