Matt’s View: Have you ever Googled your own name?

Results are being removed from Google under 'right to be forgotten' legislation Results are being removed from Google under 'right to be forgotten' legislation

Sunday, July 13, 2014
3:02 PM

Have you ever googled your own name? If not, give it a try now and see what comes up.

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I get a lot of results for Matthew Gooding the artist, Matthew Gooding the doctor and, predictably, Cuba Gooding Jr, with a few articles I’ve written for various publications wedged inbetween.

A Twitter search is also quite interesting, though try and resist tweeting your name by mistake, as Labour’s Ed Balls famously did a couple of years.

Fortunately I’ve yet to find anything particularly damaging about myself on the internet, but if you get a result that isn’t to you satisfaction, you can now apply to get it removed from search engines in the wake of the European Union’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ ruling.

As you may have seen in the national press, Google has already been asked to remove 250,000 links since the ruling came into force at the end of May.

These include articles, photos, or any other information considered out of date or irrelevant.

This ruling has enraged freedom of speech campaigners, while justice minister Simon Hughes told the House of Lords earlier this week that the right to be forgotten should not exist.

I completely agree with him. It irks me that many celebrities who have made money from exploiting their image constantly bleat on about their right to privacy.

You can’t pick and choose when you’re in the public eye.

Actress Charlize Theron recently likened press intrusion to rape, an astonishingly crass use of words from one of the world’s highest profile actresses, but one which illustrates succinctly how detached some celebrities are from reality. Just enjoy your accrued millions and accept that the price to pay is that people want to take your picture.

But back to the right to be forgotten; why should people who have committed an indiscretion be allowed to cover this up a few years later?

Issues and controversies, along with parish pump items, reported in the Crow or other newspapers from years and years ago remain in the public domain, and are highly prized by researchers and historians as a source, so why on earth should the internet be any different?

No-one is going to suggest going and editing all those archived newspapers. It’s absurd.

I completely agree with Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill, who saw a story from his publication removed from Google’s pages last month.

“The problem is that it will be misused by criminals, politicians, celebrities and charlatans to stop the public learning inconvenient or embarrassing information,” he said.

If anything, the Right To Be Forgotten, as this ruling has been called, will really become the Right To Censorship.

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