Forget me knot…BBC publishes list of ‘forgotten’ stories

Since the CJEU’s controversial decision in Google Spain,the debates have raged about how the so-called right to be forgotten should cash out in the online world. Particular concerns have been expressed by the media that the judgment rides rough shod over Article 10 rights, including not least the Article 10 rights of the website authors whose stories are being deindexed. Now it seems the BBC is seeking to reassert its Article 10 rights by publishing a list of all the stories which have been deindexed by Google thus far – see here.

The BBC’s position is that the publication of the list does not seek to frustrate the Court’s judgment, because it will not ‘make the stories more findable for anyone looking for a name’. What it will do, according to the BBC is enable a ‘meaningful debate’ about the right to be forgotten to take place. This is a bold step coming from one of the world’s most respected media organisations. It will doubtless provoke a copycat reaction from other media organisations which regard the CJEU’s judgment in Google Spain as an affront to their Article 10 rights. What is interesting about this new approach is that it does very clearly allow the wider public to examine how the right to be forgotten is in practice being weighed against the fundamental right to free expression. No doubt the BBC’s actions will attract criticism from those individuals who had hoped that their requests to be forgotten would result in the relevant links sinking for all time into the soup of online forgetfulness. It remains to be seen how the Information Commissioner will respond to this important and provocative development.

Anya Proops