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EU Court Backs 'Right To Be Forgotten' 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-time-to-be-a-search-provider dept.
NapalmV sends this news from the BBC: "The European Union Court of Justice said links to 'irrelevant' and outdated data should be erased on request. The case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results infringed his privacy. Google said the ruling was 'disappointing.'" The EU Justice Commissioner said, "Companies can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else in the world. ... The data belongs to the individual, not to the company. And unless there is a good reason to retain this data, an individual should be empowered — by law — to request erasure of this data." According to the ruling (PDF), if a search provider declines to remove the data, the user can escalate the situation to a judicial authority to make sure the user's rights are being respected.
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EU Court Backs 'Right To Be Forgotten'

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  • Re:Why nefarious? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @11:59PM (#46996237)

    This has made me curious indeed because I'm a European and lately I have due to certain reasons been studying the basics of law here - mostly so that I'll know when I need a lawyer and what to ask. I knew since before that non-public people (i.e. regular people, not politicians or celebrities) have more rights to privacy than public people do. In a possible lawsuit a court will of course have to decide if someone is a public person or not.

      Now, what I think the distant "ancestors" of this law are, are the principles for what is libel or slander here, which is different from the US. Truth is not an absolute defence here if you e.g. without a relevant reason bring up bad but true facts from someone's distant past*. If you without any reason start telling your coworkers that you know that one of them had a promiscuous lifestyle resulting in STDs and was convicted of a burglary when he was 18 and he's now 50 and has changed his life completely. That would cause "unjust harm" and you could thus be convicted even though everything you said was true. However, if you're involved in setting up a new business with some people you're perfectly entitled to bring up that you know that one of them has shown dishonesty in the past and been convicted of fraud because it's relevant information (and the fact that he/she is not a public person does not matter). Now, I would guess that most Americans think that truth should be an absolute defence in a libel or slander case but personally I'm a little bit torn about that after reading the above examples in one of the books. On the one hand, I think that you should be allowed to say anything as long as it's true but on the other I don't consider it quite right to e.g. enable your first gf whom you had a nasty breakup with to ruin your life when you're 40 by telling your in-laws about stupid shit you were involved in when you were 18, if she's still bitter because her life sucks and she wants revenge. What is "right" isn't all that black and white and I believe that such considerations are behind this "right to be forgotten".

    *) Distant past is not defined precisely in years since what should reasonably be perceived as distant might be different if you're e.g. relatively young and have moved to a different city to get a way from a previous, bad lifestyle.

  • Why so few comments? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bradley13 (1118935) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:22AM (#46997419) Homepage

    I find it really strange that so few people have commented on this - this has the potential for huge impacts on the quality of information available on the Internet!

    As far as I can see, the court must be populated by judges that have zero clue how the Internet works. The particular case that provoked the decision: A Spanish man went bankrupt, and his house was auctioned off. This is part of the public record in Spain (in particular, it appears in newspaper articles) and Google - obviously - has indexed this public information and provides links to it.

    The court does not say that the newspaper articles must be removed - in fact, they are specifically allowed to remain. The court says that Google may be told not to link to those pages, when given a search on this person's name.

    So now individual people can tell search engines "I don't like that link, delete it"? Even though the information is publicly available and objectively, factually true? Does this make any sense?

    How will this scale, when millions of people want to edit their lives in the Internet? How are these requests supposed to be checked? First, what is the definition of "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" information? Second, how do you determine whether the person making the request is the person affected (especially given the possibility of shared names)?

    Finally, what effect will this have on search results? What you want to hide may be exactly what I really need to know! Why does this businessman think his previous bankruptcy is irrelevant - is that not precisely the kind of information that his potential customers and/or employers are legitimately interested in?

    This decision demonstrates appalling technical ignorance on the part of the court, and has the potential to seriously screw up the concepts behind public search engines.

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