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July 7, 2014

Google Reinstates Links to News Stories After Accusations of Publicity Seeking

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Photo Credit: Carlos Luna via flickr

Google has reinstated links to several news articles it had removed from its European search results last week after being accused of breaking both U.K. and EU law.

Ironically, Google says it removed the links from a handful of Guardian and BBC articles in its bid to comply with the new right to be forgotten’ edict issued by Europe’s top court in May.

But not everyone is buying that explanation. Some are saying Google removed the links as a publicity stunt in the hopes it would gain public support for the rule to be changed.

Google has offered little explanation for its decision to reinstate the links.

“We are learning as we go,” Peter Barron, the head of communications for Google in Europe, told the BBC.

Google began processing requests from Europeans wishing to take advantage of the new ‘right to be forgotten’ edict late last month and began removing links immediately.

Google last week said it was receiving roughly 1,000 requests a day to remove search results. About seven of those requests affected articles — six from the Guardian and one from the BBC.

The European Union Court of Justice sided with privacy advocates in late May, saying search engines must either edit or erase online search results if they are found to violate a person’s privacy.

The Court ruled that search engines such as Google are, in certain circumstances, “obliged to remove links to Web pages that are published by third parties and contain information relating to a person from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of that person’s name.”

To comply with that ruling, Google earlier this month posted an online form that Europeans can fill out to request deletion of online information.