Is Google Dropping the Curtain on Transparency?
Even though there is currently an uproar in the demand for transparency and a reduction in censorship on the internet, Google has begun to remove links that other entities deem to lead to infringing content. According to The Asahi Shimbun, the Tokyo District Court recently issued an unusual temporary injunction for Google Inc. to delete search results on a dentist’s previous arrest as a result of illegal medical treatment practice.
This is the first instance of a court issuing an order to delete Google’s search results on criminal records relevant to an individual’s profession.
The dentist in question was arrested more than five years ago on suspicion of instructing an unqualified employee to administer medical treatment. The dentist was later convicted and charged with a fine.
The case revolves around searches of the dentist’s name bringing up webpages that contain articles pertaining to his arrest rather than his services. He claims that these results have hindered his chances of rehabilitation.
The court stated that they believe internet results should be deleted after a specified period of time, even if they contain information of interest to patients. In May, the Tokyo District Court accepted the claim and issued an injunction without stating their reasons, along with the dentist himself filing a lawsuit against Google with the court.
However, Google feels that these claims may not have legitimate reasoning behind them.
“We think people should have the right to know the professional history of medical staff that treat them,” a representative of Google Japan Inc. said.
Although it would appear that Google believes in transparency along with their user base, who conduct the majority of the 12 billion internet searches per month just in the United States, copyright holders have proven to be Google’s Achilles heal when it comes to censorship.
In a report by torrentfreak.com, copyright holders have issued take down notices and asked the search engine to remove more than one billion allegedly infringing links related to pirated content. This case is at the center of an ongoing debate over how Google should deal with pirate sites.
In 2008, the search engine only received a few dozen take down notices throughout the entire year. Currently, Google processes about two million notices per day, leading to half of all notices out of an estimated 420 million being issued just during the first few months of 2015.
“We receive notices for a tiny fraction of everything we host and index, which nonetheless amounts to millions of copyright removal requests per week that are processed, on average, in under six hours,” stated Google.
It was determined that since Google’s initial publication, they have been asked to remove more than 1,007,766,482 links to allegedly infringing sites. The search engine has stated that they have taken measures to help copyright holders.
Even though the company rejects broader actions such as removing entire domain names, saying that it would lead to unnecessary censorship, they have factored existing notices into their search algorithm to down rank frequently targeted sites. The number of reported pages will likely only continue to increase.
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