Google Starts Removing European Search Results For "Right to be Forgotten"

MarlaDesat

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Aug 22, 2013
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Google Starts Removing European Search Results For "Right to be Forgotten"



The European Union's top court ruled in May that individuals have the right to request removal of results in searches of their own names.

Starting today, if you search for a name from more than 41,000 requests [https://www.google.fr/] since the ruling.

The lawsuit began in 2010 with Spanish lawyer Mario Costeja González, who made a complaint to the Spanish Data Protection Agency. González wanted an auction notice for his home, which had been published by a Spanish newspaper in 1998 and indexed by Google, removed from both the newspaper's website and the Google search results. González argued that the results from 1998 were no longer relevant, and infringed on his privacy. Press rights protected the newspaper, but on May 13, 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled [http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/02/right-to-be-forgotten-explainer/] that Google must provide individuals with an option to remove search results that are "inadequate, irrelevant [...] or excessive" and also "outdated". The ruling left Google to arbitrate which requests met the requirements of the ruling and should therefore be granted.

Google had earlier stated [http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/06/09/google-might-highlight-when-search-results-are-scrubbed-for-right-to-be-forgotten/] it would include a notification that search results had been removed for certain searches, but EU regulators opposed the idea. Instead, Google has added its blanket statement to all searches that appear to be for a person's name when using Google's European search websites. Google already includes similar alerts that results has been removed from searches due to copyright takedowns or pirated content.

Making Google the arbitrator of which requests are valid has raised significant privacy and freedom of speech concerns. Google's FAQ for removal requests [https://www.google.fr/intl/en/policies/faq/] states, "In evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about your private life. We'll also look at whether there's a public interest in the information remaining in our search results-for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official (elected or unelected)." While removing a search result may reduce the number of people who find embarrassing information about you online, the ruling only requires that Google remove the result from searches for individual names, not all search results. Plus, the information that is being suppressed from the search results remains available on the Internet, it just doesn't show up in the results from Google. I can think of some very valid reasons (and a few nefarious ones) to request removal of information from a website, but it seems to me that taking down the page that is hosting that information is more important than removing it from search results. What do you think?

Source: The Wall Street Journal [http://online.wsj.com/articles/google-starts-removing-search-results-under-europes-right-to-be-forgotten-1403774023 ]


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TiberiusEsuriens

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Jun 24, 2010
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Personally I think the purpose of the law is fantastic. There's always going to be really crap stuff out there from our childhoods that may not reflect on who we are today. I'm sure this will still be abused in some way or another, though, since it could potentially hide things like corruption.

However, THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS. Forums will still be sharing screen caps and cached web pages, so word of mouth will still keep things in the spotlight if they need to be.
 

PunkRex

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Feb 19, 2010
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Sounds like they're just cutting out the middle man, it will make things more difficult but the info's still there, seems kinda pointless.
 

Weaver

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Apr 28, 2008
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This has really got to be a huge pain on Google's part to filter the search algorithm like this.
 

And Man

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May 12, 2014
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Would someone just be able to use a different country's Google domain to bypass this?
 

Nimcha

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Dec 6, 2010
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I find it weird why Google is targeted by this law. Why not let people have the right to take down the source?
 

V da Mighty Taco

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Apr 9, 2011
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Yeah, I gotta disagree with the idea that people have the right to be forgotten. As pro-privacy as I am, being able to demand that people don't remember you tips the line of both censoring free speech and rewriting history, neither of which I can get behind. To word it more clearly, it seems too easy for people to try to black out public embarrassments / controversies, as well as any criticism or other less-than-favorable opinions of them. There's a big difference between someone not wanting to be monitored in their own home and wanting to wipe personal failures or misconduct out of public awareness.

As an extreme example, imagine if the guy responsible for one of those major oil spills could try to purge his involvement from all major search engines. That's not the kind of thing anyone should have the right to do, nor is it the kind of thing anyone should have the right to make forgotten.
 

C.S.Strowbridge

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Jul 22, 2010
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This is a terrible law. It will be used by powerful people to cover up past crimes and will put undo burden on Google to enforce it. If I were Google, instead of having a Learn More link, I would have a link to the American server to include only those search results that were censored due to this law.
 

Someone Depressing

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Jan 16, 2011
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Here's rule number one of the internet:

What gets on the internet stays on the internet.

Many things fall through the cracks - comics, music, people - but most do not. And everything always exists in some form or another.

This is a good idea, but not a fruitful one. It's still going to give people comfort, though, and I guess I'll make a request when I have the time. So it's not all for naught, at least.
 

Lhianon

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Aug 28, 2011
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Chaosritter said:
-snip-

On a different note, we had a fun little event in Germany not long ago:

Some politician called Sebastian Edathy was stupid enough to obtain child porn over his workstation in the Bundestag. Right before things got ugly, he made a run for it, hides somewhere in Europe and tries to negate the definite proof of his crimes by saying the log files from the bundestagsserver should have been deleted long ago because they're usually stored for three months and therefore haven't been legally obtained. Long story short: a couple of weeks later the Bundestag decided to reduce the storage time of log files from three months to one week while debating about storing the connection data of regular citizens for half a year without any reason.

Why am I telling this story? Because when some european country or the EU decides to actually increase privacy rights rather than putting more holes into them than a leaking sponge, they usually have sinister reasons to do so.
keep in mind that the "Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Finanzen" allready has the 'right' to store your data for up to 10 years for the purpose of collecting the taxes and the enforcing of tax laws.
the recent decision of the Bundesanwaltschaft to investigate the taping of chancellor Merkels mobile but not to investigate the collecting of data of normal citizens by the NSA also draws a pretty clear picture of what is happening in our country.
technically, at this point our government, or at least several branches thereof, operates outside of or against the Grundgesetz, especially Art. 1 Abs. 1 GG "Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar. Sie zu achten und zu schützen ist Verpflichtung aller staatlichen Gewalt." and the laws derived from this. however, since the GG is not an enforceable law there is little hope that we actually have a chance to reclaim our democracy.

OT: smoke and mirrors, the data is still there, anyone with a vested interest will still be able to find the data, especially since the court ruling so far only applies to google.
 

Shintensuken

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Apr 5, 2010
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Alright. Everyone repeat after me Mario. Costeja. González. Plaster that guy's name. I want see guy Koni'ed by the end of the week. Also, way to follow in China's footsteps, Europe.
 

otakon17

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Jun 21, 2010
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Chaosritter said:
What do I think, well...

I think it's just some EU folks trying to prove they're actually doing something for their money.

We know how Google handles requests to remove illegal results: with an automated script. So we can wait for people trying to purge their ugly past (we all know the exception rules won't apply any longer once it's running) or harming others by removing search results in their name.

On a different note, we had a fun little event in Germany not long ago:

Some politician called Sebastian Edathy was stupid enough to obtain child porn over his workstation in the Bundestag. Right before things got ugly, he made a run for it, hides somewhere in Europe and tries to negate the definite proof of his crimes by saying the log files from the bundestagsserver should have been deleted long ago because they're usually stored for three months and therefore haven't been legally obtained. Long story short: a couple of weeks later the Bundestag decided to reduce the storage time of log files from three months to one week while debating about storing the connection data of regular citizens for half a year without any reason.

Why am I telling this story? Because when some european country or the EU decides to actually increase privacy rights rather than putting more holes into them than a leaking sponge, they usually have sinister reasons to do so.
Sounds like the influential are trying to cover their asses. Didn't something like that happen here in the US not long ago but it was with the government monitoring citizens e-mail and the like. "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide". Goes both ways, these guys got nothing to hide then they shouldn't be "forgotten" this sounds like a big pile of hooey.
 

DEAD34345

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Aug 18, 2010
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This doesn't increase privacy. Increasing privacy would be stopping people snooping on you or finding things out about you in the first place, screwing around with search results is nothing to do with it. This is censorship, an extremely strange law about censorship in which people can hinder web traffic to sites they don't like for vague and essentially undefined reasons. Also this censorship is monitored and approved by Google (and presumably other search engines) themselves for some reason, which is just ridiculous. The potential for abuse is huge, as removing a site from Google could kill it's income and traffic, or suppress unwanted information or viewpoints, and the potential for improving privacy is non-existent.

From my perspective, it seems like this law is probably just stupid and fails at its purpose, a misguided attempt at doing something good. I hope that's true, because the only alternative I can see to that is that its purpose is nothing to do with privacy at all, and it was actually enacted for a more sinister reason (more control of information by Google and search indexing companies? Less access to incriminating information on public officials or other scandals? I don't really know).
 

Nielas

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Dec 5, 2011
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Nimcha said:
I find it weird why Google is targeted by this law. Why not let people have the right to take down the source?
The sources in many of these cases are online archives of newspapers so they are protected by freedom of the press. Google does not have the same protections.
 

Raesvelg

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Oct 22, 2008
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I wonder how people would react if this law had said that a person had the right to walk into a library and start tearing out pages from any book that mentioned them in a negative or embarrassing light.

Admittedly, it's not quite the same thing. There is at least some level of oversight, and it's more like removing cards from the card catalog (not that those exist in most libraries anymore), but the ultimate effect is intended to be the same.

There is no right to be forgotten. There is a right not to do stupid shit.

Start exercising it.
 

Johnson McGee

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Nov 16, 2009
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Ok, that title is very misleading. Google removing search results for "right to be forgotten" is not the same as Google removing search results due to the "right to be forgotten".

OT: As much as I am in favour of privacy on the internet I kind of agree with Google's original stance that it's up to the websites that are actually hosting obsolete or incorrect data to remove it rather than Google's responsibility to not find it. Besides, despite everyone forgetting this fact Google is not the only search engine in existence.
 

Calcium

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Dec 30, 2010
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We'll also look at whether there's a public interest in the information remaining in our search results-for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official (elected or unelected).
I wonder if many people read this part, or if the boundless cynicism of the internet caused them to immediately forget about it. I'd imagine anyone that tries and fails to hide search results for one of the listed reasons will have way more attention drawn to it than if they never attempted to.