File this under the law of unintended (but entirely predictable) consequences. After hearing reports that Google had decided to remove a BBC News article from its search results that detailed the disastrous tenure of former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O’Neal, a spokesperson for the European Commission has now come out and said that Google’s removal of the article was “not a good judgement.”
At this point we should recall that it was The European Union’s own European Court of Justice that told Google that EU citizens had a “right to be forgotten” and that they could order the company to remove search results related to them as long as they featured “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information. Of course, what constitutes “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information is a highly subjective matter and it’s not helped by the fact that Google has reportedly been flooded with around 250,000 requests for search removals so far.
Nonetheless, BBC News reports that Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission’s vice-president, says that the European Court of Justice’s ruling should not allow people to “photoshop their lives,” especially if they’re former high-profile CEOs such as O’Neal. Heath also suggested that Google may just be comply with the new “right to be forgotten” rule by complying with it in the cheapest way possible and agreeing to every single request.
“It doesn’t come cheap to deal with all of these requests, so they need to find some way to come up with dealing with them,” Heath explained. “It may be that they’ve decided that it’s simply cheaper to just say yes to all of these requests. That’s going to spark its own debate, and rightly so.”
We’d love to see that nobody could have predicted that something like this would happen… except just about everybody could see something like this coming from a mile away.