Ex-Merrill Lynch CEO story excised from Google search

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An article about the ousting of Stan O'Neal from Merrill Lynch has become one of an estimated 50,000 expunged from certain Google searches after a new European ruling on the "right to be forgotten."

Google removes results under ‘right to be forgotten’

The story by BBC Economics Editor Robert Peston, one of the U.K.'s best-known financial journalists, was first published in 2007, and has been removed from "certain searches" by European Google users, the BBC reported. This follows a ruling by the European Court of Justice in May, which allows members of the public to request "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" data be deleted from Google searches.

The ruling was met with concerns that it could lead to criminals and bankrupts excising details of their past mistakes.

This particular story is not overly critical of O'Neal, and is actually still available under searches for his name, which suggests that it is not him who has requested its removal.

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It links Merrill Lynch's troubles (at this point, the bank had taken huge bets on mortgage-backed securities, one of the financial instruments blamed for the credit crisis) to those of U.K. bank Northern Rock. The U.S. bank was taken over by Bank of America in 2008, and is now part of BoAML.

"We have recently started taking action on the removals requests we've received after the European Court of Justice decision. This is a new and evolving process for us. We'll continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as we comply with the ruling," a spokesman for Google said.

You can read the original BBC article here, and Peston's blog post on the issue here.