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Wikipedia founder vows to fight Right to be Forgotten “censorship”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has vowed to fight the EU’s Right to be Forgotten ruling, which he classes as “censorship”.

More than 50 links to individual Wikipedia pages will be removed from the site thanks to the EU’s Right to be Forgotten legislation.

Speaking during the annual Wikipedia Wikimania conference, Wales described the legislation as “censorship”, adding that the ruling is “tyrannical”.

“History is a human right and one of the worst things that a person can do is attempt to use force to silence another,” said Wales. “I’ve been in the public eye for quite some time. Some people say good things, some people say bad things… that’s history, and I would never use any kind of legal process like to try to suppress it.”

The European Union legislation enables people to request the removal of links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant information”. Although the links will be removed from the search engine, the actual page will still exist.

Wikipedia is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation and the company has received multiple notices of content removal from Google.

“Accurate search results are vanishing in Europe with no public explanation, no real proof, no judicial review and no appeals process,” said Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director, Lila Tretikov.

“We find this type of veiled censorship unacceptable. But we find the lack of disclosure unforgiveable. This is not a tenable future. We cannot build the sum of all human knowledge without the world’s true source, based on pre-edited histories.”

Out of the 50 notifications Wikipedia has received so far, two of them relate to the UK edition of the site.

These include a page on Gerry Hutch, a convicted criminal who was supposedly one of Ireland’s most prolific bank robbers and an image of musician Tom Carstairs in concert.

The Dutch and Italian versions of Wikipedia have also been affected by the ruling, with references to crime gang La Banda della Comasina and Italian mobster Renato Vallanzasca removed from search engines.

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