Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law has come to Wikipedia

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A Wikipedia entry was removed from search results for the first time today as a part of Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ legislation. So far, no one has identified which link will be removed from search results or who made the request. The link’s removal was first reported by the Observer in a profile about Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales. On September 9 in Madrid, Wales will serve on a panel, chosen by Google, charged with developing search engine guidelines for dealing with link removal requests related to the ‘right to be forgotten’ law. “The legislation is completely insane and needs to be fixed,” said Wales in the Observer profile.

Google is set to restrict search terms to a link to a Wikipedia article, in the first request under Europe’s controversial new “right to be forgotten” legislation to affect the 110m-page encyclopaedia. The identity of the individual requesting a change to Google’s search results has not been disclosed and may never be known, but it is understood the request will be put into effect within days. Google and other search engines can only remove the link – as with other “right to be forgotten” requests, the web page itself will remain on Wikipedia. In May, the European Court of Justice ruled that citizens could ask search engines to remove particular links from results for a search made under their name, if the material was deemed to be out of date, no longer relevant or excessive. Google has already begun to implement the ruling, with tens of thousands of links removed from its European search results to sites ranging from the BBC to the Daily Express. Among the data now “hidden” from Google is an article about the 2009 Muslim conversion of Adam Osborne, brother of the chancellor, George Osborne. Jimmy Wales, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001 and has overseen its transformation into the sixth most visited site on the internet, told the Observer: “It’s completely insane and it needs to be fixed.”

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