MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union Court of Justice's “right to be forgotten” ruling allowing individuals to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them is causing controversy amid a boom for reputation management PR companies removing personal information from the Internet , The Independent reported.
“The ruling has raised awareness of the whole industry and our business has increased quite significantly since this issue. I get calls all the time saying ‘delete everything about me from the Internet’,” Simon Wadsworth, managing director at the Leeds-based company Igniyte told The Independent Monday.
“If your business or even you personally are having problems with Google, for example negative reviews, aggrieved former employees or customers posting defamatory content or anything that means that when people search for you they see negative comment, then we can help,” the Igniyte company wrote in an email promoting its internet removal services.
Igniyte is one of many PR companies erasing clients’ personal information from the Internet. Wadsworth told the Independent that since the “right to be forgotten” ruling, his company has received some 30 million requests for links to be deleted. Google has approved more than 50 percent of requests immediately following the May decision.
“It’s blackmail at the end of the day,” Wadsworth claimed of the majority of information requested for removal.
Igniyte has been asked to remove material including references to previous criminal convictions, adverse rulings by professional organizations, naked pictures, and defamatory comments. Clients have also requested the removal of negative material posted by “ex-employees, ex-partners, ex-directors.” Companies have requested Igniyte erase websites and reviews created by angry customers.
Meanwhile, freedom of speech campaigners have been opposing the measure urging Google to take a firm stance in resisting requests for content deletion.
“I would hope that Google would resist any demand from a PR agency to remove material and be robust about telling those firms to just go away unless they were going through the channels of the new law,” Jo Glanville director of freedom of speech campaigners English PEN told The Independent.
Glanville is worried that the new use of censorship can become excessive. A recent leak of compromising celebrity photos is inspiring a sympathetic cultural shift causing the public to view censorship in a positive light, Glanville explained.