Removing defamation from Google
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Is it possible to remove defamatory web pages from Google?
Interesting data was recently released by Google concerning the removal of offending web content from the products it owns.
The data is focused on government requests to Google to remove content. It is not clear if the information that Google has published includes court orders in civil matters, where the court, in effect, acts as a government agency.
In relation to the UK, between January and June, 2011, Google removed a total of 11 items as a result of defamation concerns. The items were located on Blogger and Google Earth sites, as well as in search terms.
In nine of the cases, Google acted following a court order. The two other removals came as a consequence of an application by a government agency. This was most likely the Office of Fair Trading, because police requests for removal of information tend to be almost completely ignored. So over a period of six months, Google has removed only 11 pieces of content.
This information is consistent with my experience in dealing with Google Inc. over the past few years. The number of defamatory or offending pages that Google removes is worryingly low.
Who should be concerned about this conduct by Google Inc.? The people who should be most worried are the poorest and the most vulnerable members of society. Obtaining court orders against Google Inc. can get expensive, and the enforcement process is also not cheap.
Removing web content from Google websites through court orders is a thus privilege which can be afforded only by corporations or those who are well-off. The poor and the vulnerable still have to wake up each morning seeing their name defamed and their well-being abused, with no prospect of ever having the abusive content removed.
You can now of course make removal requests from Google and from website operators under the European right to be forgotten and depending on the nature of your request the information will have to be deleted.