In 2010, Dejan Lazic got a mildly critical review in the Washington Post and now he wants it taken down so people who google him won't see it anymore.
It's just the latest in a series of abusive attempts to misuse the badly thought-through, ultimately silly and damaging EU principle of the "right to be forgotten," whereby people who believe that negative, true, public facts about their lives should not be in the first page of search results for their names should be able to dictate that search engines remove or de-rank those facts.
Whose truth is right: the composer's or the critic's? And more critically, who gets to decide?
It's a question that goes far beyond law or ethics, frankly — it's also baldly metaphysical, a struggle with the very concept of reality and its determinants. Lazic (and to some extent, the European court) seem to believe that the individual has the power to determine what is true about himself, as mediated by the search engines that process his complaints.
Accordingly, in the three months after the "right to be forgotten" ruling went into effect, Google approved 53 percent of take-down requests on first application, and an additional 15 percent upon further review.
Those removals included articles from the Guardian about a former Scottish soccer referee who lied about granting a penalty kick, a BBC article that discussed a Merrill Lynch banker's role in the financial crisis, and a report in the Daily Mail about an airline that had been accused of racism by a Muslim job applicant. And they proceeded despite the fact that, as Google complained in a filing to regulators, "in many cases we lack the larger factual context for a request, without which it is difficult to balance competing interests."
Pianist asks The Washington Post to remove a concert review under the E.U.'s 'right to be forgotten' ruling
(Image: crybaby, nerissa's ring, CC-BY)