Unforgettable? Search Censors

By Bates, Stephen | The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Unforgettable? Search Censors


Bates, Stephen, The Wilson Quarterly


Hugo Guidotti Russo, a cosmetic surgeon in Madrid, wants to liposuction his past. The Spanish newspaper El Pals reported in 1991 that Guidotti Russo had been accused of bungling a woman's breast surgery. He told The Wall Street Journal in March that he'd been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case, though the Journal reporters couldn't confirm it. Now the doctor wants Google to change its algorithm so that searches for his name won't bring up the El Pais article. The Spanish judge hearing the dispute has asked the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for guidance.

Although other countries haven't taken the concept as far as Spain has, the European Convention on Human Rights protects privacy, which is increasingly being interpreted to include a "right to be forgotten" Freedom of expression--also protected by the convention-doesn't take precedence over privacy. In fact, privacy often seems to trump what one judge dismissed as the "fetish of the freedom of the press."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In some countries, Google does censor results. Germany, for instance, has ordered that it not supply links to neo-Nazi groups in search results. But Google says that no country has ever forced it to delete links to sites that don't themselves break the law, as Spain is trying to do with El Pais. …

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