Terrorists and criminals are relying on a European court ruling which allows them to hide internet records in order to cover up their pasts, Cabinet Minister and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has said.
In a speech to the Society of Editors conference in Southampton, Javid hit out at "unelected judges" in Luxembourg who approved the "right to be forgotten" bill, whereby anyone can demand the removal of damaging web material from search engines, even if it is accurate.
"Criminals are having their convictions airbrushed from history even if they have since committed other, similar crimes," Javid said.
"Terrorists have ordered Google to cover up stories about their trials. The search engine's own lawyer has warned of unscrupulous companies abusing the system so that links to their competitors are hidden. The 'right to be forgotten' is censorship by the back door."
He claimed that thousands of requests were being made by people who "for one reason or another, would prefer their pasts to be kept secret" by companies such as Google.
Google recently disclosed that it has received over 200,000 removal requests from its search results, with most of the claims coming from Britain, France and Germany. The company added that it had approved 42% of the removal requests since the European court ruling in May.
"Stories are not being deleted from archives because of the ruling, but if they cannot be found by the search engines they may as well not be there at all."
"Since Luxembourg's unelected judges created the so-called 'right to be forgotten', Google has been receiving a demand for deletion every 90 seconds," he said.
A Google spokesman said every request was evaluated "very carefully" under the European court's criteria.