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Europe's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Threatens Online Free Speech 410

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-rights-fight-rights dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Jeffrey Rosen, Legal Affairs Editor for The New Republic, explains why the E.U.'s proposed data protection regulation known as the right to be forgotten is actually 'the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming decade.' In the Stanford Law Review Online (there's a shorter version in TNR), he writes: 'The right to be forgotten could make Facebook and Google, for example, liable for up to two percent of their global income if they fail to remove photos that people post about themselves and later regret, even if the photos have been widely distributed already. Unless the right is defined more precisely when it is promulgated over the next year or so, it could precipitate a dramatic clash between European and American conceptions of the proper balance between privacy and free speech, leading to a far less open Internet.' According to Rosen, the 'right' goes farther than previously thought, treating 'takedown requests for truthful information posted by others identically to takedown requests for photos I've posted myself that have then been copied by others: both are included in the definition of personal data as "any information relating" to me, regardless of its source.' Examples of previous attempts this might bolster include 'efforts by two Germans convicted of murdering a famous actor to remove their criminal history from the actor's Wikipedia page' and an 'Argentine pop star [who] had posed for racy pictures when she was young, but recently sued Google and Yahoo to take them down.'"
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Europe's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Threatens Online Free Speech

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  • Uh huh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by owenferguson (521762) <owenferguson AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:30PM (#39025811)
    Wish I could forget about Natalie Portman, petrified, and covered in hot grits...
  • Simple: compromise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:30PM (#39025823)
    Sometimes the right to life threatens the right to free speech (when people want to shout "fire") sometimes the right to free speech threatens the right to free movement (when people set up web sites to track others and become stalkers). What we do is compromise and weigh up one right with another. It's not so complex. Hell it's even built into the European court systems already.
    • by snowgirl (978879)

      The First Amendment holding in Schenck was later overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969, which limited the scope of banned speech to that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action (e.g. a riot). The test in Brandenburg is the current High Court jurisprudence on the ability of government to proscribe speech after that fact. Despite Schenck being limited, the phrase "shouting fire in a crowded theater" has since come to be known as synonymous with an action that the speaker believes goes beyond the rights guaranteed by free speech, reckless or malicious speech, or an action whose outcomes are blatantly obvious.

      You can shout fire in a crowded theater in the US anymore. (That is not to say that you're not going to be liable for any damages caused by it, after all, you can also drive a car, but it won't excuse you from any damages caused by your doing so.)

      • but it won't excuse you from any damages caused by your doing so

        Or, more specifically, it won't excuse the people who actually stampeded over other people trying to 'save' themselves.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:28PM (#39026533) Homepage

        The question is what right do you have to reclaim your personal information from the web.

        For example there is one group of people who the rest of use want to know about before we interact with them, psychopaths. Once the pattern of behaviour has been established crimes against people, do they have the right to be able to publicly hide or do we have the right to protect ourselves from them, which we can only do if we have foreknowledge of who they 'really' are.

        The flip side is of course do people have the right to prevent corporations from gaining sufficient information to be able to manipulate the decisions and choices, not just adults but also children. Corporations have publicly demonstrated a complete lack of qualms when it comes to psychologically manipulating children regardless of the psychological harm it causes as long as there is a profit it (sick corporations employ even sicker doctorates in psychology to more effective achieve this, doctors paid to cause harm upon a mass scale).

        The difference here seems to be what information individuals can save and share, what governments can retain and distribute in the public good and what corporations can use to data mine in order to manipulate and control. More than just the data, what is done with the data is far more important.

        So Google and Facebook retain a lot of data, often on behalf of individuals and not directly, what should they be allowed to do with it and what audits should they be subject to, in order to limit abuse of that information. What information should people be able to remove and or correct and what process needs to be established to facilitate this, whilst not allowing people who cause harm to others to 'hide' their behaviour so they move from locale to locale to continue their abuses.

        • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday February 13, 2012 @09:35PM (#39027685)

          This is one good reason to just not put up information to these sites. If you're drunk do not turn on the computer. It's really going to hit the fan when all these naive "what's privacy?" kids get old enough to get a job or run for political office. If anything this law should be called the "I was stupid and regret it now" law.

          Do people have a right to control info about themselves? I don't think so. Sure it'd be nice if all companies voluntarily would remove naked pictures of you that you regret, but to enshrine this service into law is a very bad precedent. What if you want the phone company to erase all records of bills you've ever paid? Or your bad credit history could be expunged just by calling up the mortgage company? Can you have your awful picture removed permanently from the yearbook?

          The guideline that has been around since before language was invented is "if you do something stupid then you live with the consequences".

    • by russotto (537200) on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:17PM (#39026959) Journal

      Once you compromise on fundamentals, you're compromised. As the "shouting fire" case you allude to demonstrated; it upheld the conviction of a person whose offense was distributing pamphlets alleging that the US military draft was a violation of the 13th amendment (forbidding slavery and involuntary servitude).

      So no, compromise is not always the answer. Compromise brought us from free movement to metal detectors to the TSA virtual strip search. Compromise brought us from free assembly to "free speech zones". Compromise brought us from "you have the right to remain silent" to "turn over that password". Compromise has gotten an undeserved good reputation.

      • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:43AM (#39031013)

        Your argument is based on the premise that it's more important to be able to distribute pamphlets complaining about US military draft than it is to avoid being crushed to death because some jackass thought it'd be funny to shout fire.

        Both make me sick in the mouth, but you've based your argument on an assumption that I do not think necessarily holds true.

        Ultimately in a world where we have compromise your life can be unfairly destroyed by government taking things too far, but in your world of absolute free speech your life can equally be unfairly destroyed, whether it's by someone getting you crushed to death by shouting fire in a crowded theatre, someone causing you to lose your job or worse by slandering you by for example publicly labelling you as a paedophile with no recourse to clear your name because suing for slander would breach their right to free speech, or not having any mitigating circumstance in court for for example punching someone for getting in your face and repeatedly making insulting, perhaps for example racist comments.

        The reality is you believe not compromising and having free speech as an absolute would be some magical cure for all the problems of government abuse, but really all you're doing is trading abuse of the status quo by government for abuse by private citizens.

        So personally I think it is actually about compromise, the only difficulty is getting the compromise right, because a world with absolute free speech causes just as many problems as one with compromised limits to free speech.

        Fundamentally though in your last paragraph, you're not actually complaining about compromise anyway, you're complaining about failure to compromise - the laws to which you refer weren't born of compromise, they were born of governments not being introduced in the will of the populace. Ultimately this is a fault born more of terrible government, and the pitfalls of a two party state with little to separate them than an inherent problem with compromise- of course the compromising wont go to well when both ruling parties want the same things, but the solution to that is a healthier democracy and in many countries they have this by having electoral systems that support multi-party coalition governments and so forth where compromise is essential to staying in power.

        It's the same here in the UK - when David Cameron said he likes First Past the Post because it provides strong governments, what he really means is "I like First Past the Post because when we inevitably get back into power in this two party state because the other party fucked up so bad the electorate have no choice but to switch to us instead I can do whatever the hell I want, even if I only got the support of less than a 1/3rd of the voting population". Weak governments are the best type of governments for the people, because as soon as they stop serving the people, they can trivially be toppled.

        Really, absolutes in politics are rarely ever the best solution, they're really best left to the fantasies of wingnuts who just haven't thought things through. You may dislike the current situation, but the solution is to fix your government, not become even more militant and start demanding absolutes - polarising the debate with extreme viewpoints that have equally many flaws only makes things even worse again as your opposition strengthen their stance against you even further, and are even given the ammunition of the flaws in your plan to better do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bky1701 (979071)
      I am pretty much tired of hearing about shouting fire, and how that is a legitimate reason to support censorship. There are two major issues with this. First, yelling fire causes a rather urgent problem. If there really is a fire, there is no proper time to go and question the matter. This does not apply to slander and libel. Slander and libel laws are violations of free speech. Please do not use the analogy to support those (many, many people have... and been wrong).

      Second problem: why is it never the f
      • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:18AM (#39029183) Journal

        The yelling "fire" in a theatre scenario is an example of speech having negative physical consequences, contrary to those who claim that free speech is harmless. Actually, free speech is definitely not harmless, and that is one of the reasons we enshrine it so. It is a powerful weapon against corruption and conspiracy. It damages corrupt governments and other organisations. It is precisely because it is so powerful that we find it necessary in our society. But I digress. Let's get back to your issues.

        First, yelling fire causes a rather urgent problem. If there really is a fire, there is no proper time to go and question the matter. This does not apply to slander and libel. Slander and libel laws are violations of free speech. Please do not use the analogy to support those (many, many people have... and been wrong).

        I agree that this analogy alone cannot justify slander/libel. The situations are functionally quite different. Like I said, the fire scenario is more supposed to be an example of negative consequences from speech, not to justify specific censorship laws. At most, it should be used to open the table up to discussion about censorship laws in general, now that it has been established that there can be significant trade-offs to having absolutely free speech. To justify slander/libel, another argument, specific to these laws, is needed. Specifically, does spreading lies about a person deliberately harm that person, and does the harm from this outweigh any chilling effects that this law would cause? I think the answer to the first question is an easy "yes", but the second question is a lot harder to answer.

        Second problem: why is it never the fault of the people trampling others, or the organizers who set the situation up to be dangerous to begin with? Of course, it would be quite annoying if people constantly were yelling fire... yet, false fire alarms are actually pretty common. False security lock downs, too. Essentially, at what point is it the fault of the people listening to the guy yelling fire and trampling someone? I'd say, from the moment it happens. Consider if there actually was a fire - how does the situation change? Where does the fault go for someone being trampled if it was really a fire and it happened? If it can't rest with the person raising the alarm, where is it? Was it there all along?

        Fault often cannot be ascribed to a specific party. Sometimes the independent actions of several people are all causally relevant to some kind of detrimental event occurring. Sometimes there is no fault at all. As such, it's not really valid reasoning to deduce fault by eliminating various parties.

        In the case of people being trampled without a fire, I would blame (in no specific order) the person who called fire, the people who trampled the victim (or who otherwise behaved in a reckless manner), the theatre for not having sufficient fire exits (if that's an issue), and the victim if there was any stupid behaviour that caused him specifically to be trampled. With a fire, I would also blame the fire (and whoever caused it), and blame the guy who called "fire" significantly less. The person who calls fire simply unleashes the inherent danger of the situation, but this does not make him blameless. His choices and corresponding actions caused the situation to be such that someone dies. Without that action, that person would have lived.

        Perhaps we need a better example. Let's say I ring a very large hospital, and claim that there are several high-powered explosives hidden about the building, and that I'm going to detonate them in exactly 30 minutes. There are no explosives, but they don't know this. They proceed to evacuate the building, costing them many, many thousands of dollars, and possibly causing some of their sicker patients to deteriorate (maybe if they're in quarantine, or something like that). Where does the fault lie? It's not going to be the hospital staff for believing me. They must tak

    • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:38AM (#39029303)

      The whole thing does not make sense to me and makes me think either the article is bullshit, the law is being misquoted, or both.

      When I hear "the right to be forgotten" I am thinking that means you can request that a website remove all information regarding your account. That seems perfectly reasonable to me. As a developer I know that every single piece of content a user uploads into my system can be tagged with an owner. When that owner requests complete "deletion" (not just hiding it) then I can just search for everything with that tag and remove it. It's actually very simple to do if you think about it from the beginning. Having developer large scale databases and back end systems this type of design is not new or ground breaking.

      Needing a law to force corporations to actually remove all the data you ever provided them does not surprise me.

      I don't think it should be somebody's right to demand removal of content that has nothing to do with their account specifically. If they want it removed without actual ownership, then I say let them go through the courts on each and every website and prove copyright.

      If that is really what the "right to be forgotten" law is all about, then I am in complete agreement that a compromise is required because otherwise the author of the article is right. It leads the EU down a road they really don't want to go.

  • The idea of a "right to be forgotten" is just stupid on the face of it. What are you going to do about people who know the thing in question that you're trying to get them to forget? Electroshock? Room 101, maybe?

    Rob

    • by Stormthirst (66538) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:46PM (#39026071)

      There's a difference between people knowing stuff now, and in 10 years a prospective employer looking at stuff that's on FB or Google now. What is relevant now might not be relevant later. But I know a few HR drones who wouldn't distinguish between me now and me 10 years ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rahvin112 (446269)

        So don't post your life story on Facebook you nitwit. Those of us that refuse to use that damn privacy breaching POS know just like you do that in 10 years you ARE going to regret something YOU voluntarily put up there that is going to come back and haunt you. Making it a law that you can demand companies delete all information you not only posted freely, but that you voluntarily signed a contract allowing them to keep the data forever is just plain stupid. If you are dumb enough to post all that personal i

        • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:08PM (#39026311)
          You're broadly right, but you're missing the fact that some of the information about you is gnoing to show up without you having posted it yourself. There might be both true and false statements made by others about you, or even made by others impersonating you. There should be laws that allow you to correct that if you find out, because like you say, in 10 years time that prank statement about you that someone else made will still be around and look like the honest truth.
          • Libel laws already protect people against false statements made about them.

            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              Libel laws already protect people against false statements made about them.

              You must live in Europe. Here in the US, the libel laws are so porous as to be completely meaningless. When libel suits are brought, they are more likely to be harassment of the author more than anything else. And in the few actual libel cases that are brought, very few result in anything like justice.

              Libel in the US has become an archaic artifact.

        • by Deorus (811828) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:14PM (#39026381)

          The problem is that without this kind of legal entitlement you can not control what others publish about you.

          For example, I've played World of Warcraft in the past, and as a result my characters have an activity feed associated with them showing timestamps with minute precision that I've never actually intended to share. Now the only thing require is for someone to leak who my characters are in the game and everyone online can tell exactly what I've been doing. These are things that, without such protections, you can not control, and they are a lot more complex and harder to avoid than directly posting your life to Facebook.

          Other examples would be, for example, someone taking an innocent picture of themselves at a specific disclosed location featuring your vehicles number plate in the background. Thanks to that picture, now everyone knows where your vehicle was when it was taken, and without such rights there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

          • The picture would be covered by copyright, since you took it. More generally, why should you have the right to control what (true) things others publish about you? Why does anyone deserve such privacy?
        • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:28PM (#39026525)

          You never know how the law or society turns out in the future. About 15 years ago it would have been kinda funny to dress as a suicide bomber for Halloween. Think it might be taken the wrong way if seen today?

          All it takes is something you say or do and take a picture of is somehow being connected to some kind of criminal (or worse) behavior. Imagine the whole bull about "violent games" gaining traction again and you posting a pic of you playing some FPS game. Today, certainly no problem. But how's it going to work out in 5 years or 10? Maybe someone won't employ you because you're connected to "violent behavior".

          How about letting the whole fat food craze go overboard as it usually does when people get hyped up? Consider yourself being shunned for that pic showing you wolfing down that Big Mac.

          Or how about the worst case scenario, where you're in a picture with someone who later commits some kind of horrible crime? You didn't know about it, for you it was just some guy you knew, but now you're the guy who is very obviously a close buddy of a pedo. Here, I have the pic to prove it.

          "Don't post an incriminating or embarrassing picture" is easily said, but you don't know today what will happen tomorrow. You don't know what pictures might come back to haunt you. So we may only post those crappy "please say cheese" lifeless pics that have been cleaned of any kind of background so they cannot, under any circumstances, be taken the wrong way?

        • by Gonoff (88518) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:42PM (#39026655)
          Why should I be restricted by you? My right to privacy should exceed corporate "rights" to maximise future profit.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:47PM (#39026703) Homepage

          So don't post your life story on Facebook you nitwit.

          So if someone makes a relatively small mistake they should be forced to pay for it for the rest of their lives? Society doesn't work like that, even quite nasty criminals are eventually forgiven and don't have to declare their crimes when applying for jobs and the like any more. Getting a bit drunk and posting some stupid pics on Facebook is a fairly minor indiscretion in comparison.

          People, especially young people, make mistakes. It doesn't make them nitwits, it makes them human.

          but that you voluntarily signed a contract allowing them to keep the data forever is just plain stupid.

          Well apparently people signing unfair and stupid contracts is so common we had to invent consumer protection laws and contract law to protect them. There is also the fact that if a company breeches a contract your only option is to sue them which is expensive and risky, so for stuff that is blatantly abusive we legislate against it as a kind of mass civil legal action by society.

          You will get modded up for ranting against all the morons living in their idiocrasy, but the need for legal protections is well established and understood.

          • by Dan541 (1032000)

            People, especially young people, make mistakes. It doesn't make them nitwits, it makes them human.

            and society understands this.

        • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:04PM (#39026845) Journal

          Sorry, I think a bigger risk is at stake.

          You're right in the "coldly rational" sense that the old Economists used to go by. The problem is that there are a couple of smart evil critters at senior manager positions in these companies, who discovered that 20 billion dollars of influence can create the greatest Social Hack of the last 25 years. America forgot that the chief problem of small insular towns with only 200 people in them was that you could never escape The Day That You Insulted Mrs. Chadwick, because Nobody Insults Mrs. Chadwick.

          With the advent of city conditions, people became too busy working to worry about The Disgraceful Remark. In a Post Insult-To-Mrs. Chadwick World, the world ... in a city... would be ... the same!

          Now with the social services, the search engines are creating a passive version of that Long Memory, that does nothing for you when you behave, (mostly), but records forever when you don't.

          Combined with outright malicious abuse by both the companies and the government, people aren't "just choosing" anymore. They need a little help.

      • by Dan541 (1032000) on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:07PM (#39026873) Homepage

        However it's still a historical fact. If someone writes about you on a blog, truthfully (I don't advocate the publishing of inaccuracies) then what right to you have to censor them in 10 years time?

        This seems like it's set to become the next DMCA. Don't like what someone wrote; censor them.

      • I wonder though, if you find you just can't remove all of the info about yourself that's out there on the net. Perhaps you could just dilute with nonsense. Prospective employers looking for you years from now will find that you kidnapped the Lindbergh baby, were the inventor of Slinky football, were a U.S. Congressman in 1979 who successfully passed legislation outlawing cat juggling, and you were the original drummer for the Banana Splits, before you became an astronaut on Apollo 22.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Room 101. If anything can make you remember something differently it's room 101.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:52PM (#39026133)

      I agree, I dont see this as a threat to free speech, I think we will still be able to publish what you think more or less. I think the EU law is more about data protection and what businesses can do with the information they have directly or indirectly gleaned from you. And your rights to have that data destroyed. To make this a threat to "free speech" issue is like wrapping the argument in a "think of the children" issue. The only threat I see is to some major (american) advertisers business models. The call of a threat to free speech sounds like a political call to rally the support of the american public.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:54PM (#39026175)

      in a nutshell, it means that as a civilian, you have the right to ask a company to delete your data. That's actually a good thing in that it gives power to the consumer. And I wouldn't object if Google or FB invested that 2% into a good mechanism for deleting user data.

      That differs from 'free speech' dramatically. TFA blurs this distinction. It's not "free speech" when FB or Google sits on user data and is not legally required to delete it, when the user asks for it.

      • by element-o.p. (939033) on Monday February 13, 2012 @10:09PM (#39027961) Homepage
        If I am misunderstanding you, please feel free to correct my mistaken assumptions.

        Sure, it's a good thing to ask a company to delete profile data, posts, etc. that you have submitted in your user account information. The problem, however, is with search engines. In that case, Google acts as an index to information that is *already somewhere on the Internet.* There's a world of difference between me asking Google to delete a photo that I posted on picasaweb.google.com and asking Google not to index any references to me in their search algorithm. The correct way to deal with web sites that have data about me on the web is to ask them -- not Google or Yahoo or Bing or ${Random_Search_Engine} -- to remove any information about me. I mean think about it for more than half a second...just because Google has agreed not to index me doesn't mean that that information no longer exists on the web. If shadywebsite.com has embarrassing or revealing (ugh!) photos of me, people can still link to that even if Google doesn't list those photos on its search engine. It may be a bit harder to find, but it's still there! I'd rather be able to Google my own name and deal with web sites myself than have Google delete the indexes, but have the data still exist.

        And honestly, I have a bit of a problem with forcing a web site to remove information about me just because I don't like what they are saying about me. The example in TFA about the convicted criminals wanting references to their crimes removed is a good example. My wife ran a business where one of her employees was skimming cash payments from the till. The employee was caught and convicted of stealing the money. Since she now has a documented criminal history, future employers will know that this person has a history of theft, and IF they choose to hire her anyway, they can at least keep an eye on her so they don't get ripped off, too. IMHO, that's a good thing -- but that's exactly the kind of "privacy" that this bill will "protect." Guess what, people? Actions have consequences. Sometimes it sucks to have to deal with the consequences of your actions, but sometimes it sucks to have to deal with the consequences of other peoples' actions too.
    • What are you going to do about people who know the thing in question that you're trying to get them to forget? Electroshock?

      Actually, no, we've been all recently told that electroshocks actually helps [slashdot.org] you remember [slashdot.org]. Since you seem to have forgotten the news, are you sure you don't want to try it?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Before the internet if you met a stranger and wanted to know about them you had to do a lot of work. Searching through decades of past newspaper articles on microfiche for keywords is impractical, but typing their name into Google isn't. This key difference might seem like a technicality based on the available tools, but it changes a very important social norm: the fact that things we regret or are embarrassed about are naturally forgotten.

      Everyone did stupid things when they were younger. Some people they

  • by stereoroid (234317) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:32PM (#39025863) Homepage Journal

    Facebook et al have been warned about their misuse of users' data for years now, and have shown no signs that they take privacy seriously. So it's going to take regulation to rein them in. I'm not sure how I feel about this, , but my opinion wouldn't change anything, and the "free speech" argument is spurious. Was speech somehow artificially "restricted" years ago, just because the Internet hadn't been invented? "Social networking" could go away tomorrow, and we'd all survive just fine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:35PM (#39025907)

    and try to take over europe as well, how dare these europeans do something we don't like?

  • by saikou (211301) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:36PM (#39025917) Homepage

    One aspect that doesn't seem to be obviously stated in the article, that in order to be certain what is related to the person who wants to be forgotten, online systems have to implement a rather tight tracking of this information. So if someone re-post picture on the Facebook, Facebook would have to check it against hashes of all other FB-hosted images to know where the origin is from (and re-share tags for all depicted users).
    If I can't find something related to you -- I can't remove it.

    And bonus -- multi-user content. If user A wants to be forgotten, but photo contains also users B and C, removing it might violate rights of other users (unless there's going to be a little digital eraser applied to the tagged face)

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:18PM (#39026419) Homepage

      One aspect that doesn't seem to be obviously stated in the article, that in order to be certain what is related to the person who wants to be forgotten, online systems have to implement a rather tight tracking of this information. So if someone re-post picture on the Facebook, Facebook would have to check it against hashes of all other FB-hosted images to know where the origin is from (and re-share tags for all depicted users).

      Not hard, there are plenty of sites that do just that in fact. Tin Eye, for example, can take an image you upload and find identical but resized or partially distorted (with logos or cropping etc) versions.

      If I can't find something related to you -- I can't remove it.

      The onus would presumably be on the person asking for the information to be removed to find it. That is the way the law currently works - someone could write something libellous about you but keep it in a locked drawer in their house and there would be no way for you to find out about it, but then again why would you care?

      And bonus -- multi-user content. If user A wants to be forgotten, but photo contains also users B and C, removing it might violate rights of other users (unless there's going to be a little digital eraser applied to the tagged face)

      What right is that? The EU is talking about human rights, so stuff like copyright is trumped. That has always been the case.

      • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:04PM (#39026841) Homepage

        "The EU is talking about human rights, so stuff like copyright is trumped. That has always been the case."

        Absolute privacy is not a human right. Construed as a human right, there's no such thing as a right to be forgotten.

        • more importantly, "absolute privacy" is a strawman? who's talking about absolute privacy?

          http://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/privacy-paradox/right-to-be-forgotten [stanfordlawreview.org]

          In theory, the right to be forgotten addresses an urgent problem in the digital age: it is very hard to escape your past on the Internet now that every photo, status update, and tweet lives forever in the cloud. But Europeans and Americans have diametrically opposed approaches to the problem. In Europe, the intellectual roots of the right to b

          • "more importantly, 'absolute privacy' is a strawman? who's talking about absolute privacy?"

            When I say "absolute privacy is not a human right", it's not to argue against claims to the contrary but to avoid making the unqualified claim that privacy is not a human right. Humans do have a right to privacy, but such a right must be narrowly construed in light of competing rights such as freedom of speech. The quote you've offered is an excellent example of a case where free speech should trump a perceived right

        • by xaxa (988988)

          "The EU is talking about human rights, so stuff like copyright is trumped. That has always been the case."

          Absolute privacy is not a human right. Construed as a human right, there's no such thing as a right to be forgotten.

          There is if we decide to make it one. You may as well say there's no such thing as rights.

          The first right of the European Convention on Human Rights is the right to life, and even that isn't absolute -- e.g. if the police shoot someone that can be acceptable (if they are protecting other lives with the minimum force necessary).

          (Note: the ECHR covers different (many more) countries than the EU. They are not related.)

  • Summary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:37PM (#39025947)

    Europe's new privacy law could cost Google up to 2 percent of their income, which obviously threatens online free speech.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:38PM (#39025949)

    Unless the right is defined more precisely when it is promulgated over the next year or so, it could precipitate a dramatic clash between European and American conceptions of the proper balance between privacy and free speech, leading to a far less open Internet.

    Speaking as an American, I want the European version of privacy and the American version of Free Speech.

    In other words, I don't want some motherfucking marketing firm tracking me to sell me their shit - and it's always shit - and sell my information to the Government because they want to track "terrorists" or whatever to justify they're existence.

    Which implies the desire for European privacy. They don't need to know who the fuck I am. WTF? Speaking as an atheist in the Bible Belt, I can tell you, anonymity is a goddamn blessing.

    Otherwise, I'd need a god given machine gun to defend myself against these Goddamn Jesus freaks who think they need to kill me for not believing in their Sky God.

    God Damn Motherfuckers!

    • by unity100 (970058)

      In other words, I don't want some motherfucking marketing firm tracking me to sell me their shit - and it's always shit - and sell my information to the Government because they want to track "terrorists" or whatever to justify they're existence.

      you are talking as if the two are two different parties. facebook's ancestor started as a university project to find saddam hussein through his social connections, and it still has connections to 'intelligence' services.

      https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ix=sea&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&newwindow=1&safe=off&site=webhp&source=hp&q=facebook%20backed%20by%20cia&pbx=1&oq=&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&fp=2ea555e16508e [google.com]

    • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:24PM (#39026487)

      Speaking as an atheist in the Bible Belt, I can tell you, anonymity is a goddamn blessing. Otherwise, I'd need a god given machine gun to defend myself against these Goddamn Jesus freaks who think they need to kill me for not believing in their Sky God. God Damn Motherfuckers!

      Have you ever considered that the difficulty getting along with the more spiritually-inclined might have less to do with them prying into your affairs and more to do with how you can't even get through a post on a completely unrelated topic without a profanity-laden bashing of their religion?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:43PM (#39026665)

        Have you ever considered that the difficulty getting along with the more spiritually-inclined might have less to do with them prying into your affairs and more to do with how you can't even get through a post on a completely unrelated topic without a profanity-laden bashing of their religion?

        Have YOU ever considered that in person that I'm a respectful of others beliefs and I listen to them witness and preach to me - without saying a word?

        Have YOU considered that maybe living in cognito that that I've heard some ridiculous shit from people of "faith" or "spiritually inclined"?

        Have YOU even considered that my online posts are nothing like I am in real life because I really need to blow of steam?

        Have YOU considered that I am incredibly isolated because all of my neighbors believe in an adult version of Santa Claus? It's like being around children who in all seriousness are talking about how they are asking (praying) for toys (money, good health, people's souls, etc....)?

        Have YOU considered that YOU are making some serious assumptions and complete irrational judgments about me because of one post (and this one of course)?

        You see, in normal everyday life, I HAVE to listen to the nonsense of the spiritually inclined. Which leads me to another thing: YOU assume I'm not "spiritually inclined". Actually, I am - I just don't believe in all that super natural magical childish horseshit.

        You'd think after 2,000 years,the human race would have gotten beyond believing in the magical super natural superstitious horseshit.

        Believe it or not, you can be spiritual without having to believe in such non-sense as a Sky God.

        Just being kind and following the Golden Rule that Confucius invented 3,000 years ago (which Jesus mistakenly got all the credit for) and be compassionate towards others - which I am NOT doing right now - which makes me a hypocrite.

        I guess I could be a GREAT Christian after all!

    • by Dark$ide (732508)

      Speaking as an American, I want the European version of privacy and the American version of Free Speech.

      Speaking as a European. I 100% agree with you.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        Speaking as an American, I want the European version of privacy and the American version of Free Speech.

        Speaking as a European. I 100% agree with you.

        All of it? The US free speech leads to "God Hates Fags" at funerals, and other cruel harassments.

  • by pinfall (2430412) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:38PM (#39025951)
    Do not read this comment. I regret it already.
  • Wow. bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:39PM (#39025973) Homepage Journal

    right to be forgotten exists in offline-world, and it did not cause any free speech issues. something which is personal information, is not something that is related to free speech. your ideas expressed, public posts made, public statements, discussions may be considered free speech. but, photographs of your son and daughter, can not.

    what im i saying. taking this shit seriously : the real issue is google, facebook and similar going deprived of 2% of their annual income. that's the whole point of this anxiety.

    well. we, the people dont give two shits about google or facebook's 2% annual income. they can lose it, and still sit pretty.

    and, this does not have any kind of effect on the 90-100% of the rest of the internet, where content is created by small people or businesses - they are not making money selling people's personal information to megacorporations anyway. (ads are not relevant - small sites cant run all encompassing tracking networks like facebook )

    • by jandrese (485)

      right to be forgotten exists in offline-world

      I'm confused. If I want to, I can order other people, even total strangers, to rip up all of their pictures of me with some sort of legal threat if they don't comply? Even public photos where I'm in the background or something? Where does this law come from?

      • by unity100 (970058)

        you cannot do that to people, but you can do that to corporations. on internet, corporations are taking that for granted.

        • you cannot do that to people, but you can do that to corporations

          Haven't you heard? Corporations *are* people - at least here in the US - sigh.

        • by sgent (874402)

          You can????

          No, you cannot order corporations to destroy records they create on transactions with you, pictures they take in a public place, etc.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            Search "Data Protection Act" for the UK (or Irish) implementation of this EU law.

            Also, note that the corporation must delete the records of you once they are no longer needed, even without you asking -- and they don't get to define what "needed" means. If I close my Facebook account, Facebook must delete everything they know about me in a reasonable time.

      • Re:Wow. bullshit. (Score:4, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:24PM (#39026481) Homepage

        I'm confused

        Yes, you are. Well spotted.

        If I want to, I can order other people, even total strangers, to rip up all of their pictures of me with some sort of legal threat if they don't comply?

        Depends who they are and what they are doing with the pictures. Someone with a private collection on their PC? No. A company that hosts said pictures in a searchable index on the web? Yes.

        Even public photos where I'm in the background or something?

        No, only where you are a primary part of the picture, except in very specific cases like if you were in a shower room or other place with an expectation of privacy.

        Where does this law come from?

        It isn't a law yet, but will most likely be either an EU directive or maybe worked into European Convention on Human Rights.

    • My only problem with this law is it does't apply to just content I create myself, but content other people created. If I take a picture and post it online and later want it removed, I should be able to get it done. Under US Law, I have a copyright interest in the photograph. If I decide I don't want it published, I currently have the DMCA to assist me in getting it taken down, but finding every reposted copy might be difficult.

      The problem with the proposed European Regulations is that it can potentially

      • Re:Wow. bullshit. (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:03PM (#39026271) Homepage

        If I take a picture and post it online and later want it removed, I should be able to get it done. Under US Law, I have a copyright interest in the photograph.

        You do, but as soon as you post it to Facebook (and any other service, really), you gave them have a worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free, non-revocable license to it.

        So the DMCA doesn't really help you, since they're not violating your copyright.

        • non revocable could certainly be unconscionable under EU law, thus making FB/Google EULA or whatever is the agreement, NIL. And i betcha later in the agreement it says something alike "some clause might not apply depending on your juridiction blahblahlbah".
  • Eraser to the Mind (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LionKimbro (200000) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:41PM (#39025991) Homepage

    You have a right to be forgotten; You do NOT have a right to make me forget!

    • But I should have the right in 10 years time, not to be searched for by some HR drone to find out what my opinion was 10 years ago. Me now won't be the same as me in 10 years time. Do you think the HR drone will differentiate?

      • May I suggest finding a job at a company that hires actual HR people instead of drones?
      • by jamstar7 (694492)
        Probably. I got turned down for a customer service gig at an insurance company because I 'failed the background check'. They couldn't verify my high school GPA. Not surprising, I graduated 40 years ago.
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:57PM (#39026211) Homepage

    The right to be forgotten? What about the responsibility to keep one's own private information private?

    I have no problem with regulating the dissemination of private information held in confidence by online services, but information published by users or by people not affiliated with the online services in question should not receive any such protection in all but a few special cases (medical and financial information, for example).

    When privacy and free speech are in conflict and there's no urgent and compelling reason to keep information private, free speech should always trump privacy.

  • I mean... let's say that you decide to tell facebook to "forget" you, but before you did, somebody who had perfectly lawful access to see your info copied some of it to his local computer... say it was pictures or whatever. After you were "forgotten", the person who copied your stuff uploads it back onto facebook. For argument's sake, let's suppose that the person who does this is outside of your country's jurisdiction. Who do you get to sue?
    • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:40PM (#39026637)

      Demand to have him extradited!

      At least the US feels that as long as the 'wronged' party is in a jurdiction that they control, they have the right to have foreign citizens extradited. Just look at the case of the UK hacker Gary McKinnon. Let's just hope Europe will be just as determined to have those evil foreigners punished.

  • by jcdr (178250) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:07PM (#39026297)

    It's a pathetic situation. Historians work hard trying to find evidences of past events because retaining information is so hard. Now we have a Internet able to retain virtually everything, making de facto the greatest source of information that ever existed, and those stupids guys are only trying to keep the whole civilization in a obsolete age. The governments must do exactly the opposite: founding Wikipedia and the like to keep the information over the age. There is no way in denying the existing facts, even if so many manipulators have gain profit in shadowing information to others. The only way forward is learning to live with all informations available in detail.

  • by jcrb (187104) <jcrb.yahoo@com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:10PM (#39026329) Homepage

    So I followed the links down to the actual EU document, at which point the problem becomes clear. All the other issues aside, if it takes you 117 pages to explain a "basic right" then it seems to me that....

    You're Not Doing It Right

  • Human foolishness has historical value for teaching values to the young, naive, and possibly stupid.

    Invoking Anti-Darwin will protect the rich, politicians, popes, mullahs ..., but endanger the public from a lack of information that could save their lives from idiots being leaders. Yes, George Bush is the poster child for Anti-Darwin rights. Fight Anti-Darwin rights/laws and protect US and EU from drunken idiots in politics.

  • Another unintended side effect is that it makes people believe that such a "right" exists.
    It doesn't. The sooner people understand it, the better. This problem should be solved through education, not by forcing other people to forget, which can't be done.
    Don't treat people like children, let them become adults.

  • by Kaikopere (892344) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:34PM (#39026585)

    I was reading Delete by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger recently and he has a very simple solution... put expiration dates on all data. I don't know that it's a basic human right to be forgotten, but it's pretty harsh to have a picture of one act of foolishness follow you around for 20 years.

  • Interesting.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crossmr (957846) on Monday February 13, 2012 @07:36PM (#39026607) Journal

    I see The New Republic doesn't seem to have a single story about ACTA in their pages.. yet the europeans are out protesting it in droves...Europeans want to protect privacy and suddenly someone from America is all over them..
    I also notice the Standford law review doesn't return a single article written about that either..

    Clean up your own house before you go telling others how to run theirs.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @01:17AM (#39029175)

    Please. Rosen is acting as a proxy for Google et al who can't be seen going up against this for PR reasons.

    I am not saying in its present form it's workable, but the idea that somehow the right to be forgotten is at odds with free speech is total bullshit.

    At least it will create a set of significant disincentives to people who want to come forward with this material, who can expect to be prosecuted for doing so, and that's a good thing.

    Why are these two rights even being compared when the more obvious comparison is between the right to be forgotten and the threat of being blackmailed, manipulated , artificially limited and determined by your youthful mistakes and bad judgement before your brain had even finished maturing?

    I know that Slashdot is filled with techie types and programmers and a supernormal number of those are people who have varying degrees of Asperger's Syndrome and therefore will voice comments like "meh. They made their bed. Let them lie in it". The whole POINT of the EU decision is to prevent that type of attitude from doing the damage it would do. Such "tough luck" attitudes represent nothing but an abysmal lack of insight into human character and the calculus of human relations.

    Never before in human history have people been unable to walk away from truly youthful indiscretions. The consequences of this are far reaching and it's a brilliant insight on the part of the EU to recognize the potential for destructive and malignant power plays and the potential for people who would otherwise make real, vital contributions to society to exclude themselves from the public scrutiny that accomplishment would necessarily bring if a woman thought that the picture of the . of herself with the banana would inevitably surface one day.

    This is something completely new- a forever memory machine focused in on you from the time of your birth, relentlessly taking pictures recording thoughts and documenting events. No creative person can survive that unscathed.

    Now please, let the "fuck them, tough luck" commenters take the floor. ... but before they do, please, give generously:

    http://www.autismspeaks.org/ [autismspeaks.org]

"No problem is so formidable that you can't walk away from it." -- C. Schulz

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