Mystery of the missing search results on devolution


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The Independent Online

Outlook Europe’s wrong-headed “right to forget” imposed on internet search engines is proving increasingly perverse, although some of that might be down to the way the ruling is being interpreted. Take Standard Life. Now some of its history is indeed murky. But why would the company’s and its former executives’ views on Scottish devolution be at all sensitive? Particularly given devolution is now with us, and Standard has hardly made much of a secret of its Unionist leanings.

Yet put (former chief executive) Scott Bell + Standard Life + Devolution into Google and you will be told that “some results have been removed under data protection law in Europe”. The same applies if you substitute Mr Bell for his successor Iain Lumsden. No such restrictions apply to searches involving the next two chief executives, Sandy Crombie and David Nish.

Standard Life denies making any right to forget requests to Google, and Mr Bell passed on more than a decade ago. Mr Lumsden has been quietly retired for some time town, but wouldn’t seem to have any reason to tell Google to censor searches. So what is going on? I think we should be told.

Perhaps we will be if the Conservatives pull at least part of the UK out of Europe.