Search Ruling 'Could Let People Sanitise Past'
"Serious questions" must be asked about a European Union ruling that search engines should remove links to information about individuals, the Justice Secretary said.
Last week's judgement means details that are irrelevant or incorrect - and prejudicial to a person - should be withdrawn, prompting more than 1,000 requests to Google.
But Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Justice, said he was concerned about the consequences of the European Court ruling.
"I have real reservations about the decision made by the European Court," he told Sky News.
"This is an area that's now subject to negotiation within the EU.
"I have a real reservation about the idea you can somehow eradicate your past, that news organisations are forced to sanitise their archives, that search engines are forced to direct away from difficult stories for people.
"We live in a world of press freedom. We live in a world where people should be accountable for the mistakes we make.
"I think the European Union as a whole needs to ask some serious questions about whether this is really the right way forward."
Sky News understands that half of the takedown requests submitted to Google from the UK are from people with criminal convictions.
Among those who have asked for information to be removed were a man convicted of possessing child pornography, a university lecturer who was suspended, someone who tried to kill his family, and a convicted cyberstalker.
A former politician has also contacted Google to ask that links to an article about his time in office be removed, because he wants to stand again.
However, Mr Grayling conceded there were some instances where people should be entitled to have details about them withdrawn from the public domain.
"There are individual circumstances (where it is reasonable for individuals to ask for records to be removed). For example, it's not fair for somebody who does flamboyant things at a teenage party and puts a photograph on Facebook, to have that in wide circulation 20 or 30 years later.
"But when it comes to people who have had difficult circumstances in their professional lives trying to sanitise those, so they don't show up when people search for their names on a search engine, I have serious reservations about whether that is desirable, right or proper in a free society.
"I think we need to have some serious discussions about this court judgement, about the nature of European law and whether it needs to be modified in the wake of this judgement."