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Google Removes Robert Peston's BBC Article Because Someone Wanted It 'Forgotten'

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GOOGLE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN
File photo dated 30/05/2014 of a Google search removal request displayed on the screen of a smart phone, after BBC economics editor Robert Peston has had a blog, which was published almost seven years ago on the BBC website, reportedly set to be made unsearchable in Google in a move resulting from a court ruling about the "right to be forgotten". | Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The BBC's economics editor has spoken of his "shock" after learning Google is removing his work because someone wanted it "forgotten."

Robert Peston woke up to an eyebrow-raising email from the search engine giant this morning, informing him his work had been eradicated from history, complying with new measures that require sites to honour the "right to be forgotten" online.

His blog post about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O'Neal, published almost seven years ago on the BBC website, is now unsearchable in Google. Peston said that this effectively means that no one will see the blog post from now on.

“To all intents and purposes the article has been removed from the public record, given that Google is the route to information and stories for most people,” he wrote.

peston blog

The Robert Peston blog Google banned from search results

The reporter has now asked why he was being "cast into oblivion" by the search engine.

A landmark European court decision in May said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask it to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing personal information.

The "right to be forgotten" is based on the premise that outdated information about people should be removed from the internet after a certain time.

Google sent Peston the following message:

Notice of removal from Google Search: we regret to inform you that we are no longer able to show the following pages from your website in response to certain searches on European versions of Google

Perston's article described how O'Neal was forced to leave the investment bank after it endured significant losses on the back of careless investments.

stan oneal

Former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O'Neal

Blogging on the matter yesterday Peston accused Google of having "killed this example of my journalism", but conceded that the technology giant had opposed the court ruling.

The latest blog, which links to the 2007 article, was last night shared on Peston's Twitter feed and retweeted more than 500 times.

The journalist said he did not know who had requested the removal of the story, entitled "Merrill's mess", from the search engine, declaring it "all a bit odd".

He said: "Maybe I am a victim of teething problems. It is only a few days since the ruling has been implemented - and Google tells me that since then it has received a staggering 50,000 requests for articles to be removed from European searches."

Speaking shortly after the ruling in May, Google spokesman Al Verney said it was ''disappointing ... for search engines and online publishers in general''.

Peston, who said he was "rather shocked" to be told that the article was being removed from search results, said that it was "completely possible" the complaint could have come from any of the readers who commented on the post or were named in the comments, rather than in the story itself.

But the journalist said it was still possible to find web pages Google had been asked to remove from European searches.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Because this only applies in Europe, because this is an EU ruling, if you put in google.com/ncr that basically means you are not searching the regional version of Google and even if you are in the UK you can still find anything.

"So it sort of makes a whole nonsense of the ruling, to be honest."

Google informed Peston that since the rule came into force it has received around 50,000 removal requests, and that it has hired "an army of paralegals" to process them. Peston has contacted Google to ask if he can appeal against the blocking of his article. He is currently awaiting a response.