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Facebook Says EU 'Right To Be Forgotten' Would Harm Privacy 277

Posted by timothy
from the want-to-subscribe-to-your-newsletter dept.
judgecorp writes "The European Commission has proposed a "right to be forgotten" online, which would allow users to remove personal data they had shared. The idea has had a lot of criticism, and now Facebook claims it would actually harm privacy. Facebook says the proposal would require social media sites to perform extra tracking to remove data which has been copied to other sites — but privacy advocates say Facebook has misunderstood what the proposal is all about."
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Facebook Says EU 'Right To Be Forgotten' Would Harm Privacy

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  • Misunderstood? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:38PM (#42206211) Homepage Journal

    privacy advocates say Facebook has misunderstood what the proposal is all about."

    Misunderstood, my ass. Never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by greedy self-interest.

    • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:45PM (#42206267) Homepage

      Misunderstood, my ass. Never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by greedy self-interest.

      Yeah, I'd have to say this is a willful 'misunderstanding'.

      Facebook's commodity is your data. That's how they make money. They don't want to be told that they would be required to delete your data upon request.

      Any time you see Facebook saying "Privacy laws would harm privacy", the real thing they're saying is "but that would cut into profits".

    • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Artraze (600366) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:52PM (#42206367)

      No, no, you misunderstand. Remember that adage "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"? Well, all Facebook has is privacy intrusion so of course the only way to enhance privacy is to intrude on it. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.

      • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:00PM (#42206475)

        Sadly, I think you hit the nail right on the head.

        From FB's perspective, this would harm your privacy, because FB will have to find even more creative and treacherous ways to invade user privacy to make up for the fact that users could, at any time, choose to have said data removed. I could easily imagine them creating multiple shell corporations that really "store" your data, and then when you ask to have your data removed they simply say "sorry, we don't store your data, one or more of our many affiliate corporations store and manage user data .. you'll have to submit your requests to them..."

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @06:24PM (#42209527)

          "Thank you for your request to delete your personal data

          Because Facebook LLC-Subcorp 3b is a wholly owned but separate subsidiary of Facebook LLC-Subcorp 2a1, we do not have your facebook credentials such as your username or password (that would violate your privacy).

          We do however, store and back up your personal information, which you authorized Facebook LLC-Subcorp 2b2 to transmit to us on your behalf.

          Because you have granted Facebook a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty free license to reproduce, reuse, market and otherwise utilize your personal content in the known universe in perpetuity, we will not actually delete your data. We will however, stop re-sharing it with Facebook LLC-Subcorp #1b2, a Malaysian-Ireland-Turkey LLC.

          To verify you own the identify you are requesting to purge yourself from our systems, please supply us with the following:

          1) Your full name
          2) Your place of birth
          3) Your date of birth
          4) Your mother's maiden name
          5) Your current address
          6) Your phone number
          7) Your email addresses
          8) Your login credentials for google
          9) A scanned, notarized copy of your driver's license

          When we have validated your identity, we will be happy to remove your personal information from our servers.

          For our protection, your removal request may be archived for up to seven years. Your personal information may also remain on backup tapes, magnetic media, aggregated dimensional analysis units, and in any other system we have already sold, licensed, subcontracted, or authorized to use on our behalf.

          By submitting a removal request, you authorize us to forward your request to subcontractors as we see fit, with whom we may have exclusive business relationships to resell your identity.

          Thank you, your privacy is very important to us."

          • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @07:46PM (#42210411)

            Dear Facebook,

            Thank you for your response to our legal position.

            As you have not complied, your assets across the EU have been frozen, and any executive who sets foot in any EU nation is subject to arrest and criminal prosecution.

            Love and hugs,
            The guys who actually still make the laws over here

            I think when the EU starts fining them substantial amounts and/or issuing arrest warrants, Facebook will notice. Contrary to common belief on US-centric forums like Slashdot, the EU does actually have teeth when it comes to US tech firms taking liberties, and has been known to bite.

            In case anyone thinks this is just hyperbole, consider that the EU (both citizenry and government) is getting very fed up with the US (both corporations and government) thinking that it can dictate how everyone else's legal systems and business regulations should work. Anything that screws Facebook while strengthening the EU data protection/privacy position and generating income for the EU via fines is basically a political/economic win/win proposition for the people who are going to be driving the process. Pretty much the only potential downside is losing favour with the US government with consequences elsewhere, but right now the US government is pretty unpopular with everyone so that probably doesn't matter much.

    • by game kid (805301)

      An RTBF would harm Facebook's private use of the data they've gathered from their products.

    • Re:Misunderstood? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheCarp (96830) <sjcNO@SPAMcarpanet.net> on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:57PM (#42206431) Homepage

      Isn't that the exact opposite of Hanlon's Razor?

      Better said, and copied right from my old .signature archive:

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary
        depends on his not understanding it"
                                        -- U. Sinclair

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Isn't that the exact opposite of Hanlon's Razor?

        Pretty much. When someone trots out Hanlon's razor, see if mcgrew's razor fits the circumstance. If not, Hanlon applies. If so, someone's probably scamming someone. If there's an error that harms someone but doesn't help the person that made the error, than Hanlon is right. Too often it excuses malicious behavior -- always look at motives. "Oops, sorry, I made an error. Please don't notice that I benefitted at your expense."

        • by sd4f (1891894)
          Motives always apply in business decisions, let the old maxim cui bono apply, (translates; "to whose benefit"), and you'll usually see why things happen, the way they happen. Original post, in my opinion, is correct, and i think hanlons razor is too forgiving in the corporate world.
    • If by "privacy issues" they're meaning "we stop making money from violating yours"...
    • "Misunderstood, my ass. Never attribute to stupidity that which can be explained by greedy self-interest."

      Imagine Facebook receives an order to remove information concerning a particular incident. How does Facebook remove this information without going through what all its users have shared or otherwise posted to their accounts?

      • And the information the other users published isn't private - until they request FB removes it, after which it should be removed. And after that it's gone - no need to go looking through it again.

      • by Teun (17872)
        The principle of EU privacy law is quite simple, even Facebook can understand it :)

        Facebook is responsible for what it does with your data, not what their users do with it.
        So when Facebook shares your data they have the responsibility to on request "unshare".

        • by Bengie (1121981)
          It's much more than that.

          Say I post your address, so you request FB to take it down. Then I repost, the someone else's shares that post. FB has to take both down. Say I post on a different site then post a link on FB, they also has to take that down.

          I'm not talking about you making many requests each time I repost that info, I'm talking about you only make the request once and FB has to actively monitor and watch for that information from any and all inputs until the end of time. Every new post must be
    • If they said "Facebook is lying through their teeth," people would perceive that as negative and would use that as an excuse to ignore what they're saying.

      How many times have you been watching an election, and you think there's a clear right and wrong choice (or one clear right choice and several wrong choices), and voters complain that the race had "too much mudslinging."

      Sometimes I want to shake such people by the collar and say "IT'S NOT 'NEGATIVE' IF IT'S TRUE, YOU MORON!... OKAY WELL MAYBE IT TEC
    • Personally, I think Facebook's attitude on this is a very good thing in the long run, and I hope they continue in this vein.

      Your average user has absolutely no idea, or just doesn't care, what data FB holds on them and how it is used. The more Facebook shout and cry about how difficult it is for them to remove data the more incidents there will be of people being harmed by their policies - this is unfortunate for those individuals, but in the long run it should serve as an education for others, who will
  • In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:45PM (#42206269) Homepage Journal

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:46PM (#42206285)

    The "right not to be punched in the face" would harm health?

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      The "right not to be punched in the face" would harm health?

      As they say,
      "Fighting for peace" is roughly equivalent to "Screwing for virginity"

      • by dywolf (2673597)

        And "they" are idiots who know neither history, nor the reality of conflict.

        All of history have proven there two basic routes to peace in the face of aggression:
        1) When the invaders come, roll over and become their slaves.
        2) When the invaders come, kill them all.

        You only get to pick one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mitreya (579078)

          1) When the invaders come, roll over and become their slaves.
          2) When the invaders come, kill them all.

          I am almost certain that the saying refers to wars that are motivated as pre-emptive strikes.
          Fighting back against invaders is more of a "fighting for freedom" than a "fighting for peace"

  • Problem solved (Score:5, Insightful)

    by golden age villain (1607173) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @02:57PM (#42206437)

    Facebook says the proposal would require social media sites to perform extra tracking to remove data which has been copied to other sites

    Maybe they can start by not copying user data to other sites.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      One of the biggest gripes about social media sites is the difficulty in moving from provider to provider. Say someone wanted to move from Gmail to Facebook. This would require copying contacts from Gmail to Facebook.

      So you copy your Gmail contacts to your Facebook account. You then want to remove those contacts you put into your Gmail account. Does Gmail now have to pass on that removal request to Facebook because they passed on the contact? if they don't then the contact is not completely deleted from the

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Google lets you download XML of all your crap. It's not hard to leave Google because of Google.

        Try to d/l your posts from Facebook

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        So you copy your Gmail contacts to your Facebook account. You then want to remove those contacts you put into your Gmail account. Does Gmail now have to pass on that removal request to Facebook because they passed on the contact?

        Gmail didn't pass on the contacts, YOU did.

        if they don't then the contact is not completely deleted from the internet as it still exixts on another provider's system.

        Telling Facebook or gmail to actually delete information doesn't mean you're telling them to delete it from anyplace it might be on the Internet. It's telling them to delete it from gmail or facebook, or wherever they sent it.

        This is not a complicated problem. And yet, Google/Gmail thinks it is. My idiot ISP has just handed all of their user's personal information over to Google by moving their email services to gmail. Gmail immediately sent out an email tellin

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          What if You used an import feature on a new social site to import your data? It could be seen as Facebook giving your information to the new site. Would Facebook have to inform the new site that the original contact was deleted? This is a yes or no answer.

      • by Teun (17872)
        The law is clear, in your example Facebook is responsible for the data on their server and any place they shared it with, not for what you've done with it.

        Why is this simple concept for some so hard to understand!

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          If I logged onto a new social network site and used their system to transfer in my Facebook contacts would that be seen as Facebook sharing my data with the new site (even if I authorized it)?

    • Think of it this way. You send an email, it gets forwarded, then forwarded again, then posted on a forum, then tweeted.

      You then tell the person you sent the email to to delete it and every copy that may have been made of it.

      Is that reasonable? How could you do that and who gives you the right, especially when there are whole conversations tangentially related to that email that would become orphaned.

      The same happens on Facebook. People post an image, it gets reposted elsewhere, comments are added to the rep

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:01PM (#42206485) Homepage

    To grant one person the right to be forgotten is to deprive another of the right to remember. The sharing of information once legitimately published cannot become illegitimate just because the person involved doesn't want it to be known. The "right" to be forgotten is a form of censorship and has nothing at all to do with privacy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Millennium (2451)

      This. A "right to be forgotten" implies silencing those who do not want a person's actions forgotten, and this must not be allowed.

      • by dywolf (2673597) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:15PM (#42206681)

        We're not talking about criminal records or warcrimes here.
        We are talking about being tracked and datamined, for profit.

        This is not a form of censorship.

        Facebooks right to know everything about and and make money off it does not carry more weight than my right to be left alone and not be tracked and not be datamined.

        • I'm not sure why you're phrasing this in terms of rights. Facebook doesn't have a "right" to track you, but it is part of their business model and user agreement. You agree to be tracked when you use their service. By extension, you don't have a "right" not to be tracked.

        • by Millennium (2451)

          We're not talking about criminal records or warcrimes here.
          We are talking about being tracked and datamined, for profit.

          How do you legally distinguish between them?

          Facebooks right to know everything about and and make money off it does not carry more weight than my right to be left alone and not be tracked and not be datamined.

          Neither is a right. You agreed to be tracked when you signed up for Facebook. If you don't like it, then don't use Facebook.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Where do you derive a right to not be tracked? Is it any more complicated than "I don't like the idea of being tracked, so I'm going to claim I have a right to not be tracked."?

          You say you have a right to be left alone? Well so do I. Where do you get the right to tell me to delete information that I've recorded? By doing so it is YOU who are violating my right to be left alone.

        • by Bengie (1121981)

          We're not talking about criminal records or warcrimes here.

          Yes we are. The example the EU even uses is someone commits a crime, serves their time, and no longer wants to be associated with that crime. That person can request Google, FB, blogs, etc to have to remove any data pertaining to that person having committed that crime. Also, these sites must actively screen new content that may contain this information.

          Essentially you have a black-list that will only grow, plus the same content may be worded many different ways. It will be the cat-and-mouse game the YouT

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Thank you. This is the only sensible position I've seen on this subject. If you're concerned about what Facebook will do with information concerning you (note: not "your" information), then don't give it to them.

      • by Desler (1608317) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:09PM (#42206603)

        But what if you never gave it to them?

        • by mark-t (151149)
          Then why would you need them to forget it?
          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Then why would you need them to forget it?

            You buy something from me online using your credit card. I post that information to Facebook. Or maybe you go on vacation and you tell your neighbor you're going away and ask him to watch your house for you. He is an avid facebooker and posts several status updates for himself that says things like "just checkin out my pal mark-t's house for him while he's out of town for three weeks..."

            Do you now see why you might have a need for Facebook to forget something that you didn't post there?

            • by Hatta (162192)

              I don't see how you can justify censoring your neighbor under those circumstances. I have every right to observe and make those observations public. This is what freedom of thought is all about.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                I don't see how you can justify censoring your neighbor under those circumstances.

                I can, even if it is a very loong stretch to call it censoring. It isn't his information. He had no right to post about you.

                I have every right to observe and make those observations public.

                Assuming for the sake of argument that you are right (which I don't agree that you are), the situations I presented are not you observing something, it is something you were told, both the credit card information, or the fact that the house owner was out of town for three weeks.

                This is what freedom of thought is all about.

                Freedom of thought is not freedom to post every piece of information about other people whereever and whe

                • by Hatta (162192)

                  I can, even if it is a very loong stretch to call it censoring.

                  It's not a long stretch at all. It is plainly censorship, by definition.

                  It isn't his information. He had no right to post about you.

                  If it's in my brain, it's my information. Arguing that you own information in my brain is an enormous overreach. The idea that you have rights over my brain is completley nonsensical.

                  the situations I presented are not you observing something, it is something you were told

                  Listening to something I am told is a fo

          • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @04:10PM (#42207521)
            When someone else posts a photo of you in a compromising scenario and tags you in it.
        • by Hatta (162192)

          Then someone else did. So what? If you can't keep your secrets, that's your problem. It's not my job to keep your secrets for you.

      • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmailCHICAGO.com minus city> on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:17PM (#42206717)

        This is the only sensible position I've seen on this subject. If you're concerned about what Facebook will do with information concerning you (note: not "your" information), then don't give it to them.

        I respectfully disagree. The information is mine (posts are copyrighted, surely?) and there should be some degree of control over that information. By that logic --
        "if you are concerned with what Google may do with your emails, don't open a Gmail account".
        "If you are concerned with what a physician may do with your medical history, don't go to a doctor"
        "If you are concerned with what bank may do with your money, do not give bank any of your money"

        Also, I am concerned about what other users give to facebook about me. Sometimes simply creating the account is enough to give away a crapload of information. I never understood people who have the time to go through and mark things like "I know this person because I worked with them at X" on Facebook. They are literally working for Facebook with no benefit to them.

        • by mark-t (151149)

          Also, I am concerned about what other users give to facebook about me.

          If other people disrespect your privacy by freely giving details about you to facebook, that's an issue between you and those people, not you and facebook.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            If other people disrespect your privacy by freely giving details about you to facebook, that's an issue between you and those people, not you and facebook.

            And requiring facebook to delete that information when you tell them to is an issue between you and facebook.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              Actually, requiring facebook to delete that information is an issue between you and the fundamental right to freedom of speech.

              • by Obfuscant (592200)

                Actually, requiring facebook to delete that information is an issue between you and the fundamental right to freedom of speech.

                Are you actually arguing that corporations are people and have the same rights, like the right to free speech?

                Are you arguing that a corporation from which you have purchased a product using a credit card has the right of free speech to post that credit card data and data about the transaction online for everyone else to see? Are you arguing that your doctor has the right to free speech, too, and can post details of your most recent office visit online, and you have no right to have it taken down?

                No, so

                • by Hatta (162192)

                  No, not at all. Corporations do not exist and have no natural rights. They can be regulated as the people see fit. If the people decide they are better off with restricted corporate speech that's fine.

                  If you want to make that argument then make it. You can make that argument without inventing a fictional right to be forgotten that is in direct conflict with free speech.

                  No, sorry, the "right of free speech" does not mean you have the right to speechify other people's information whenever or wherever you

                • by miltonw (892065)
                  Misrepresenting what the debate is about is a Strawman argument. An illogic.
                  - Giving out credit card information is already against the law. The proposed "right to be forgotten" is not about that.
                  - Spying on people's private lives is already against the law. Therefore the proposed "right to be forgotten" isn't needed to fight that situation.
                  - Doctors are required, by law to keep patient information confidential. Therefore the proposed "right to be forgotten" is not applicable there either.

                  Your exam
        • by Hatta (162192)

          The information is mine (posts are copyrighted, surely?)

          Copyright is not a fundamental right either. It is an unjust violation of our fundamental rights to free speech and our property rights. The very concept of ownership can only be meaningfully applied to rivalrous goods. You cannot own information, ever.

    • by zlives (2009072)

      interesting... never thought about it from that viewpoint, and yet strangely i agree with the statement you make. The more i think about it... i can;t come up with a counter that seems logical.
      some one else with bigger brains must help.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dywolf (2673597)

      To grant one person the right to not be punched is to deprive another of the right to punch.
      Who's rights are more important? The puncher, or the punchee?
      Your right to remember me is secondary to my right to not be remembered.

      We arent talking about censorship. We are talking about a company datamining my every detail, for profit. So they can market things to me, and sell that info to other people to market things to me. They are essentially selling "me", against my wishes, and with no benefit to myself.

      When

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Who's rights are more important? The puncher, or the punchee?
        Your right to remember me is secondary to my right to not be remembered

        The party being passive gets precedence. Forcing me to delete information is not a passive act on your part. You are advocating the threat of government violence to get someone to delete information. That is much more analogous to punching than sitting quietly minding your own business.

        We arent talking about censorship.

        Yes, yes you are. Any time the government prohibits the

    • by rmstar (114746)

      The "right" to be forgotten is a form of censorship and has nothing at all to do with privacy.

      Yes, it is censorship, but i disagree with your claim that it has nothing to do with priavacy. In a sense, things like this highlight the fact that censorship sometimes is a good thing.

    • You are free to remember, you just can't keep records.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      The "right" to be forgotten is a form of censorship and has nothing at all to do with privacy.

      I think you are both right and wrong on this. It depends on how you implement this "right".

      The way I originally heard it, the "right" was essentially "if I ask for something I uploaded to be taken down and deleted, it has to be taken down and deleted". If one quits Facebook and deletes their profile, it should actually be deleted. This I completely support, because while it's technically censorship, it is in the hand of the user and creator of the content, not in someone else's hands. And if someone happene

    • by Teun (17872)
      In the EU Facebook or equivalent are not persons with a right to their memories.

      All the law requires is they delete any and all information about the individual that requests it.

      Because such data belongs exclusively to the individual.

  • Think twice. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Westwood0720 (2688917) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:05PM (#42206547)
    Think twice before you post ANYTHING online. Because once its there, its there forever. Use discretion.
  • Upton Sinclair (Score:4, Informative)

    by fldsofglry (2754803) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:09PM (#42206605)
    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it! -- Upton Sinclair http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Upton_Sinclair [wikiquote.org]
  • It could be true. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pclminion (145572) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @03:17PM (#42206719)

    Actually, it isn't far-fetched to assume that lawmakers will do something idiotic that causes a bunch of consequences they didn't intend. While I can easily see Facebook trying to language-lawyer this shit to their advantage, I'd give it 50/50 chance the law actually does imply the goofy stuff Facebook says it does.

    I believe that laws should always be enforced in full and to the letter, along with all unintended consequences. This way, broken laws can be quickly identified and fixed (or repealed). It also would prevent prosecutors from selectively enforcing obscure provisions of the law to target specific individuals.

    When judges and juries start making exceptions for cases that are "obviously not what was meant" we just encourage more sloppy law-making.

  • "the proposal would require social media sites to perform extra tracking to remove data which has been copied to other sites"

    aka

    We sold the user date to 100's of other companies....

  • Fuck facebook Fuck facebook Fuck facebook They are misunderstanding on purpose what is clearly written, also they cite an impossible limitation: they cannot control what is published in other sites/social networks. Well, no one is asking to achieve the impossible, just erase my data from your cloud whenever I ask
  • Please do track to which sites you are copying my information, and also please can I see the list.
    Option to remove some information from specific site would be nice.

  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @04:36PM (#42207939) Homepage Journal

    Facebook has no right to comment on this. We're talking about a person's right to privacy, not a corporation's right to privacy.

    Facebook is not a person; it is a corporation. It has one end goal: to make money. Everything Facebook says is driven by that one goal. If Facebook says that the right for people to be forgotten would harm privacy, what it really means is that the right for people to be forgotten would reduce Facebook's profits.

  • by realsilly (186931) on Thursday December 06, 2012 @05:33PM (#42208755)

    .... and took it upon themselves to post information about me on-line. So as a non-FB user, I have every right to be forgotten when I never gave them (the user or Facebook) permission to put information about me out there. I didn't create an account. I tell everyone I know to not put information about me on Facebook or on any social network, but when someone else takes it upon themselves to post info about me, now FB claims that they own that data.

    This is where I have big issues with Privacy laws and companies who data mine and then sell that data.

    Don't I have every right to be forgotten, since I went out of my way to avoid being "remembered"?

  • I have no commercial relationship with Facebook. I've never visited their site. If they are maintaining information about me, it's entirely without my consent. I'd like to click a box to disappear myself from their incidental radar screen (such as if people I know unwisely divulge my image or personal details), but it appears that I'd first have to agree to the Facebook TOS to do so.

    Let's have a law that enables divorce without TOS.

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