The British Culture Secretary has blasted the European “right to be forgotten” ruling which he claims is being exploited by terrorists and criminals to expunge their past from the internet.
Sajid Javid, who has been the cabinet member for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport since April said that terrorists have “ordered Google to cover up stories about their trials” by using the ruling, which was passed by the European Court of Justice. While he stopped short of actually suggesting any sort of change to the system as it stands, the attack may cheer Tories demoralised by UKIP continuing to hold the Euro-sceptic high ground.
Criticising the “unelected” Brussels judges who passed the ruling, Mr. Javid said that although articles themselves were not being deleted and could be found if you knew where to look, they were being removed from search engines, and without search indexing “they may as well not be there at all”, reports The Times. Presumably appealing to Libertarians and proponents free speech, Javid said “The ‘right to be forgotten’ is censorship by the back door”.
Under the new system forced on members of the European Union, individuals or businesses can legally appeal to “data controllers” such as Google to have stories about their past removed from indexes, even if what is said is actually completely true. Although envisioned as a way to protect people from harassment (in the case of revenge porn, for instance) and “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive” information it is instead being used by criminals to hide details of their trials.
Javid said: “Terrorists have ordered Google to cover up stories about their trials. The search engine’s own lawyer has warned of unscrupulous companies abusing the system so that links to their competitors are hidden”. As of last month, Google had removed some 18,000 links following requests from people in the United Kingdom.
Since taking the post of culture secretary, Javid has been outspoken on a number of subjects that will have ingratiated himself with the more right-wing elements of the Tory party, insisting that immigrants should respect British culture and learn English. He has also been a vocal critic of the BBC, responsibility for which lies within his department, instituting a review of it’s use of controversial spy laws to catch licence fee evaders and the 193,000 court cases brought in one year by the corporation.