May 30, 2014

EU's "Right to Have The Streisand Effect" Goes Live

Since I've at various times over the years expressed both my concerns and disgust for the "right to be forgotten" concept, e.g. "The "Right to Be Forgotten": A Threat We Dare Not Forget, I'm not going to rehash that discussion here and now. But a look at the ironic situation the EU censorship bureaucrats have created for themselves today, via the recent EU court ruling on this matter, is both amusing and instructive.

Google now has an "application" form up for EU residents who want to apply for search results removal. Using this form definitely does not guarantee that results will be removed, particularly if there is any public interest in those results.

But here's the best part. Results will only be removed for the EU country localized versions of Google. They will *not* (naturally, since thankfully the EU doesn't rule the world!) be removed from the main site itself.

Additionally, when results are removed from EU versions, the associated results pages will reportedly contain a notice to EU users that results were deleted (similar to the way copyright takedowns are handled now), and "Chilling Effects"-type reports will also reportedly be made.

The implications of this gladden my "right to be forgotten" hating heart. If you're an EU user searching for Joe Blow, and the EU has forced removal of a search result related to him on, say,, the warning notice informing you that results have been removed for that search give you an immediate cue that you might want to head over to to see what the EU censorship bureaucrats deemed unfit for your eyes. In essence, it's a built in Streisand Effect, courtesy of the EU itself! Before this, you might not even have noticed the result in question among other results for that search .

Not only that, but other search queries that happen to include the pages that were blocked for EU searches on that name will still apparently appear, even in the EU.

And of course, curious EU searchers who want to escape the local EU censorship regimes have various ways to reach the main, as do other users in censoring countries around the world: homepage access links, use of (No Country Redirect), or in more extreme cases proxies and VPNs.

Censorship in the Internet age is a hopeless endeavor, as the EU is about to discover.

Get your popcorn ready.

Be seeing you.

(I'm a consultant to Google. I'm speaking for myself, not for them.)

Posted by Lauren at 10:12 AM | Permalink
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