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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NapalmV sends this news from the BBC: "The European Union Court of Justice said links to 'irrelevant' and outdated data should be erased on request.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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  • Unworkable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @07:26PM (#46994635)

    Almost Nobody has a unique name.
    I could be running for office, running a business, or selling my artwork, and have someone with the same name demand all link be removed when his name is keyed into the search engine.

    How is Google to know which individual is being searched?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Obviously we're going to have to assign EVERYBODY unique names.

      • by icebike (68054)

        I agree, AC 6763-of-93742234.

        Half of slashdot disappears the minute Anonymous Coward contacts Google from a EU country.

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          Half of slashdot disappears the minute Anonymous Coward contacts Google from a EU country.

          And nothing of value was lost.

    • Re:Unworkable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @07:39PM (#46994733)

      Your point is valid but I've got one better. The only people that will use this will do so for what I consider nefarious purposes. Criminals, politicians you name it, if it makes the public aware of exactly what they've done they will demand to be erased.

      Once the tool is created it will be available for government to use and suddenly we have the memory hole and Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

      I like the idea of being able to make someone like facebook delete all your personal information but that's not how this tool is going to be used. It's going to be used by a politician to force Google to delete links to all stories about an affair they had. It will be used to censor the news not to maintain privacy as claimed. Frankly it's a politicians wet dream.

      • And that politician is named "Richard Santorum"
      • by Anonymous Coward

        These countries believe that if you did something dumb when you were 18, you should have the right to move on from it by the time you're 40. If you can't do that, there's no point in turning your life around. I can't say I entirely disagree with them--barring the obvious massive technical difficulties, it's a pretty nice thought.

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          Why should any factual information that was once public be removed? How far does this removal from the public's memory go. Are individuals also supposed to forget that something happened simply because some other person wishes that everyone forgot? Am I supposed to edit people out of pictures I might have taken?

          Sounds to me like the EU is the douchebag for not accepting reality. This reminds me of the old saying about politicians thinking they have so much power that they can require the sun to not rise sim

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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, ar

            • Re:Why nefarious? (Score:4, Informative)

              by Cytotoxic (245301) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:19AM (#46997641)

              Your example is pretty much the case that came before the court. Some lawyer went through a messy divorce and it and all the financial fallout hit the news. Since it was the most newsworthy thing he'd ever done, it was the topic of the search results on his name even years later. The articles are still live at the newspaper sites. The court isn't ordering them to take them down. They are just saying that Google can't point to the articles.

              This is very bizarre. I suppose they see the book burning metaphor, so they won't force the library to take the book off the shelf and burn it. But they will force the library to remove it from the card catalog.

              I understand not wanting some upskirt picture from when you were 22 years old to be the first thing people see about you when you are in your 40's and your kids are in middle school, but the EU's solution is terrible.

              Charles Manson might be pretty tired of being tied to events of 40 years ago. So might Roman Polanski. That doesn't mean the government should be able to force a company like Google to corrupt their search results.

            • 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

              I think you need to study some more.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

              The only exception is maliciously bringing up spent convictions.

            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              I agree, in principle, that people (as individuals) should not focus as much on past behavior as on recent behavior but I also believe it is up to individuals to determine how distant is the distant past. Knowing how willing someone is to admit that they made mistakes is also very enlightening as well.

              An example is that if someone is going around claiming to be a certain way and looking down on anyone who isn't that way and acting as if they have never behaved otherwise, then any evidence to the contrary is

      • I like the idea of being able to make someone like facebook delete all your personal information but that's not how this tool is going to be used. It's going to be used by a politician to force Google to delete links to all stories about an affair they had. It will be used to censor the news not to maintain privacy as claimed. Frankly it's a politicians wet dream.

        It would be fun if Google took the position that in order to keep something from accidentally slipping through, it has to nuke all mention of them anywhere, Just To Be Sure. How many politicians would take the bargain that erasing their misdeeds means they'll never appear again in search results, period?

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Your point is valid but I've got one better. The only people that will use this will do so for what I consider nefarious purposes. Criminals, politicians you name it, if it makes the public aware of exactly what they've done they will demand to be erased.

        How about this.... If "removal of search results" is exercised, when searching for the name a Red Banner will show up saying "The person by this name has blocked some of these search results."

        Then a little link on the righthand side that says "Mor

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Why should Google offer people a way to delve into another private individual's affairs, going back to the dawn of the internet and sometimes further, on a whim? You can't normally ask to see a random person's credit report, and it wouldn't include old bankruptcies that happened long ago anyway. You can't see their criminal record, and they are under no obligation to disclose spent convictions if applying to work for you.

          Note that in many EU countries even public figures have a fair degree of privacy. The i

      • Re:Unworkable (Score:4, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @02:05AM (#46996745)

        So now I am a criminal or worse, a politician? Because I would like to be forgotten. The way you say it, it sounds like "If you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide." We already know that is a bullshit reason for politicians to abuse as well.

        Sure, some wil use it for evil. That does not mean it IS evil.

      • Re:Unworkable (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @08:00AM (#46997873) Homepage

        So if someone breaks the law at age 16, pays their dues and has their criminal record wiped at 18 (legally the conviction is considered "spent") we shouldn't allow them to get on with their lives, become productive and law abiding members of society and contribute? Instead they should be shamed publicly online forever, just in case anyone was about to make the mistake of giving them a job or a car loan.

        If someone lost their job, became ill and went bankrupt should that be held against them forever? Credit reference agencies are only allowed to keep it on file for five or six years.

        All EU legal systems allow for things to be forgotten. Sure, they can't erase newspaper articles written years ago, but they can prevent companies that specialise in providing information about people from keeping that data indefinitely.

        • So if someone breaks the law at age 16, pays their dues and has their criminal record wiped at 18 (legally the conviction is considered "spent") we shouldn't allow them to get on with their lives, become productive and law abiding members of society and contribute?

          Usually when you're a naughty boy it goes in the local newspaper. There will be microfilm of those papers somewhere. It's simply not feasible to erase them, and if you did you'd be destroying material of interest to future historians.

          Now of

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            That is the key difference. You can't erase every copy of a newspaper article, but until recently it would have been very hard for someone to find out about your past from something buried in tends of thousands of microfiche.

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      The scenario you posed it's interesting but you asked the wrong question. If a person says "searching for John Smith results in the following five search results and I'd like you to remove them" -- it doesn't matter which John Smith people were searching FOR... it only matters which John Smith they were GIVEN.

      The question relating to your scenario is "how does google know that the page is about the requestor". Could be solved by making it a perjury to submit a false request, or requests go via notaries, or

    • They have a Google+ and Facebook username.
    • by beh (4759) *

      I think it's not so much about me just being able to go to google and say, remove all my results from searches.
      I think it IS more about me being able to remove specific things from the search results, if they are "about me". This is probably where it gets difficult - how would I go about and prove that some thing I would like to remove from the search is genuinely about ME, not about someone else who shares my name (and might not mind).

      Also, note, it's only to remove it from the search - obviously, google

      • by icebike (68054)

        Yeah, you can still find things on line. Bill Gates's mug shot [thesmokinggun.com] for a traffic violation sufficiently serious to get him hauled into custody. (Which is rare in the US, so I'm guessing DWI).

        Somehow it didn't seem to harm him much.

        These situations are trifling details, which do not justify the re-write of history, and do not justify the forced de-cataloging of public information. Everybody in the US knows somebody who lost their house in the recent downturn. If anything those people are more likely to be giv

        • by beh (4759) *

          Somehow, showing one person that wasn't much harmed by it isn't really much in terms of proving the point -

          - Bill Gates rise long predated the kind of easy information retrieval, we have now.

          - X people in the US owning guns doesn't detract from the fact, that the US with it's liberal gun laws has the highest relative number of gun related deaths. My guess is, saying my neighbour owns a gun and I'm still alive isn't much consolation to those who have lost loved ones at the Columbine shooting or any other sh

    • Finally, I can get information about all those other Jason Levine's off the Internet. There can be only one Jason Levine!

    • Furthermore does this mean if a politician says something super dumb/racist/crass they can actually force news outlets to not report on it?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Slashdot court backs the right of editors to forget which stories have already been posted.

  • Google.eu Homepage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PaddyM (45763) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @07:33PM (#46994685) Homepage

    Dear Europe,
          You have been forgotten by Google.

    Seriously, that's what I would do. How long would this law stay around? I mean I understand there are people who wish annoyingly stupid things in the past weren't tied to their names, but the legalization of the right to forget is a slippery slope (i.e. Stalin photoshopped Trotsky out of his photos) with plenty of examples of why revisionism is a bad idea. I sympathize with the originator of the idea, but if we are led to believe that most people are honest and decent, then a simple explanation is all that would be in order to understand his plight. To those ignorant who would see something on Google and blindly discriminate against individuals forever, I think it says more about society's inability to have mercy, then the need to enforce an unenforceable right to be forgotten. What next? When we determine how to erase memories, everyone will have to sit in the chair to forget about stuff like this?

    • by NapalmV (1934294)
      So, what do you think should happen if, for example, you're searching for your name and find that the engine provides a link to some (hacked/stolen) database, complete with address, SSN, credit history, credit card numbers, medical records or similar data? Sure, it was the hackers that initially broke the law by stealing and then "making available" that data, but how about the search engine owners responsibility? Since they now provide an easy, direct path to the data, wouldn't it be "aiding and abetting" t
      • by dskoll (99328) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:11PM (#46995335)

        It's one thing to get Google to take down a link to information that can be used for identity theft, or to information that is libelous, or to information that can put you in harm's way.

        The plaintiff in this case, however, wanted Google to take down information that was absolutely true and in no way useful for identity theft. He just wanted the information taken down because he didn't like it. There's no way Google should have been forced to do that.

        • by NapalmV (1934294)
          Still a valid point. Why should personal info appear on internet when it was never your intention to put it there? And on top of it being searchable by name?

          How about a minimal protection like the search engine eliminating all names from the searchable index, unless, of course, at indexing time they were found to be enclosed in special HTML tags saying "this name should be indexed"? If the information gets unintentionally on the net, most likely the tags won't be there. On the other hand if you create a p
          • by dskoll (99328)

            Why should personal info appear on internet when it was never your intention to put it there?

            It wasn't personal information; it was public information. And you might as well ask: Why should newspapers be allowed to report anything about you? Let's face it, some newspapers (tabloids, for example) publish intensely personal information about people and while many find it distasteful, no-one is suggesting that the tabloids should be censored.

            • by NapalmV (1934294)
              Corrected for you: "some newspapers publish intensely personal information about public servants and celebrities". The average guy (like the one in the OP) does not expect that "intensely personal information" is published on internet and made searchable by a popular engine. If you're not a public figure, a rock start or on FBI/Interpol 10 most wanted list, you shouldn't be on internet without your knowledge and approval.
              • by dskoll (99328)

                First of all, it's not necessarily true that newspapers publish intensely personal information only about public servants and celebrities. I've read plenty of stories with personal information about "average guys".

                Secondly, why should public servants and celebrities be any less entitled to privacy than anyone else?

                • by NapalmV (1934294)
                  Because of the nature of their work. They make public appearances, where they address the public. Any news related to these are of public importance. OTOH what they do in their backyard is not addressed to the public and shouldn't be in the news unless they're doing something illegal.
              • Corrected for you: "some newspapers publish intensely personal information about public servants and celebrities".

                I wasn't aware that the McCanns, Milly Dowler & her family, or Chris Jefferies were celebrities.

          • Why should personal info appear on internet when it was never your intention to put it there? And on top of it being searchable by name?

            This isn't personal information in many cases, this is public information (made public via court records, reporting, etc). We aren't talking about a listing saying "John Smith lives at 321 Maple Blvd and his SSN is 123-45-6789." We're talking about a listing like "John Smith was convicted of fraud in 2008 when he tried selling five people the same house. He served five

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          His problem was that although credit agencies had removed any mention of his bankruptcy (as per the law, after a certain time you no longer have to declare it and agencies can't keep it on file, to stop being being ruined for life) it was easy for anyone to find that information with Google.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      My concern is what about public information that is commonly considered high value, should that be forgotten? In this particular case it was about an old news story. Should Google be required to remove links that pointed to online copies of a newspaper? Should physical copies of the newspapers in libraries be redacted?

      I laughed because one of the comments in the BBC news article was from someone who claimed his political views over time had changed, and implied that he didn't want people to see his old v

  • Google isn't the one presenting the data. They're just indexing it. If you prevent search engines from indexing the data, the out-of-date data is still out there. Readily available for anyone who's doing a background check using resources other than a public search engine to find and turn down your loan application.

    So this decision actually makes it harder for the little guy to find out there's bad data about him floating around out there, so he can go about getting it fixed. The next guy in his shoe
    • Google isn't the one presenting the data...

      This is not claimed by the article. While Google was the one sued the article says that the ruling applies to any search provided who receives a complaint.

      • Would this apply to any website with in-site search capabilities? Including any blog?

        Suppose, on my self-hosted WordPress blog, I make a post about John Smith criticizing him for something he did. Now, a year later, John Smith happens to come across this post. Can he order me to exclude my post from my site's search listings? While I'm technically inclined and might be able to figure out how to do this, most bloggers would not be. So they would need to remove the post entirely or edit it to remove the

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      Google isn't the one presenting the data.

      Google is presenting it, in the form of an annotated summary or index, or however you'd like to word it.

      So this decision actually makes it harder for the little guy to find out there's bad data about him floating around out there, so he can go about getting it fixed.

      So because I "could" request my data be deleted, Google will preemptively not index it? No, you are confusing things. This will make it no harder for the "little guy" to find bad stuff about himself, but will make it harder for others to accidentally run across "bad stuff" someone wants forgotten.

      • by Cytotoxic (245301)

        I think his point was valid. Sure, Google may end up having to comply. And their results will become less reliable because of it.

        So what happens next? If the data is valuable, and the results from Google (and other public sites) becomes unreliable, how long before Experian or some other data aggregator begins selling their own version of uncorrupted search results and personal data that you don't get to see and edit?

        Equally valid, if this really does become an issue with the big search engines, how long

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          So what happens next? If the data is valuable, and the results from Google (and other public sites) becomes unreliable, how long before Experian or some other data aggregator begins selling their own version of uncorrupted search results and personal data that you don't get to see and edit?

          Like the site that emails me telling me I have a publicly indexed criminal record (a speeding ticket I beat in court 10+ years ago - tickets were crimes in Texas at the time). For a fee, they'd "delete" my record on their indexing site. Blackmail pure and simple. So I ignored them. It'd be nice if such "indexing" sites could be ordered to stop perfoming blackmail. They wanted money to stop a harm created by them.

          Equally valid, if this really does become an issue with the big search engines, how long before everybody starts using the new startup from Indonesia or the Phillipines?

          How would that help? If it's illegal in France to not delete when ordered to do so, are th

  • So I'm in the EU and often agree with the supreme court's decisions - but this is bullshit. The information is showing up on google because - it is in the public record - ie its been published in newspapers. That's that guys problem - but it is his problem - nobody elses. They're asking google to ignore publically available info because "i don't like it" no thanks . just wrong. feel sorry for this little guy but the decision is still wrong. I killed my wife 20 years ago but I served my time and now that
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Makes sense to me. Google is a for-profit data aggregator. The personal data belongs to the person, not the court publishing it, or the aggregator selling it. If someone wishes to remove their information from the aggregator, that should be allowed. The information belongs to the person, not the agggregator.

      That wouldn't work in the US, where free speech trumps all, and "privacy" doesn't exist, but other places have different priorities of rights (though, rarely less rights, just different assignments o
      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        What if someone wishes to remove all that information, period. Or denying access to it. From physical magazines and newspapers, from halls of records, criminal reports, photocopies of correspondence, and so on. What makes the internet different in this regard, other than that some people mistakenly think it is easy to do on the internet?

        The information does not belong to the aggregator OR to the person the information is about. The information belongs to the content creator (who sometimes has a copyrigh

        • by bloodhawk (813939)
          You don't own the rights to magazines or criminal records etc. You can only request the removal of data you OWN about you.
        • by jschrod (172610)

          The information does not belong to the aggregator OR to the person the information is about. The information belongs to the content creator (who sometimes has a copyright on that information as well).

          If that's the case in the US, that's an important distinction between the USA and Europe: Personal information belongs to a person, not to any content creator. So-called content creators are not allowed to publish information about me that I haven't approved. Content aggregators like search engines are not al

      • by kwbauer (1677400)

        So the "public domain" is not actually public but belongs to individuals. That is, if I place a work of art or code or whatever into the public domain, then I can later redact it from the public domain and demand that anyone who has copied it destroy their copies?

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Not once it's in the Public Domain, but you are incorrectly presuming that anything "owned" by an individual is automatically in the Public Domain, and things owned by corporation aren't.
      • The personal data belongs to the person, not the court publishing it, or the aggregator selling it.

        Court cases are a matter of public record. They belong to the public.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          So there's never been a sealed court record, and some countries have name suppression. Good to know reality doesn't exist because it conflicts with your personal opinion.
          • Nice try. However:

              1) in civilized countries[1] sealed cases are very much the exception.

            2) this clearly wasn't a sealed case, or it wouldn't have been in the newspaper record to start with.

            Why don't you go out and do some heel-toe gearchanges in your automatic while running red lights and falling asleep, you fat imbecile?

            [1] OK, that's stretching it - it was Greece.

            • by AK Marc (707885)

              1) in civilized countries[1] sealed cases are very much the exception.

              So (nearly) every country is uncivilized when it comes to treating children? Most have some manner of purging or hiding (sealing) juvenile convictions.

              this clearly wasn't a sealed case, or it wouldn't have been in the newspaper record to start with.

              Show me where I stated this case was or should have been sealed. Oh, I didn't. You are strawmaning me. Why can't you just address what I say, not what you lie about to make me look bad because you are always wrong?

              Why don't you go out and do some heel-toe gearchanges in your automatic while running red lights and falling asleep, you fat imbecile?

              Oh, so you are the AC that was stalking me with those lies for so long. Why do you feel the need to lie in your ad hominems? Offended that I'

    • You say it yourself: your crime is forgotten in real life. Only if one knows where to look and take a lot of trouble, it could be found again. Not so with Google. Heck, I could just type in the name of a village and find the article describing a domestic murder from 20 years ago. That is way different. Information can hurt. Even information that is not true.
  • There is a right to remove the reference on a search engine but the source still exists...
    How many search engines are there?
    Juristriction over a particular search engine is from where?

    Nice try!

  • Really, why is the EU even considering this?

    I can sympathize with somebody who has done something in the past that they wish other people would forget about, but I can all to easily see the ramifications of implementing this leading well into historical negationism [wikipedia.org].

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I'm certain a lot of former prison guards at concentration camps would have loved to have had the ability expunge old records that would be used in the future to implicate them. Whoops, EU newspapers have a bad opinion of a third world dictator, so now he can sue to have them "forget" it all. Pop singer decides to switch to Christian rock instead, so sues to remove all old information about her that would detract from the new image being created.

      • by jschrod (172610)
        Exept that the EU court explicitely excepted persons or actions of public interest of that ruling.

        And no, there is no formal definition what is a person or action of public interest. This will be decided by courts on a case-by-case decision. As it should be, humans should judge, not algorithms.

        • by Cytotoxic (245301)

          Which is funny because the case was decided about a lawyer who wanted to expunge results pointing to news articles about court proceedings involving his personal life and finances. You know, public records that the government maintains and provides to the public.

          Truly the court has a dizzying intellect.....

  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • ... keeps his back to the screen. From his window he sees the Ministry of Truth, where he works as a propaganda officer altering historical records to match the Party&#226;&#8364;(TM)s official version of past events.
    • &#226;&#8364;(TM)

      Why doesn't this show up in preview? (not a coder, so I genuinely don't understand.)
      • Slashdot uses different code for the preview and the actual post. This is of course a terrible idea, but it's Slashcode. There are lots of terrible ideas.
        • Thank you. I have asked this before to no response. Much appreciated.
        • On a related note, why does £ seem to work for me but not others?
          • Unicode works, but only a small number of characters, due to the use of a whitelist. People were doing strange things with RTL control characters, hiding posts, rewriting parts of the page above, etc, so instead of blacklisting the RTL characters and languages that use them they whitelisted a tiny tiny subset of Unicode. This is of course another terrible idea. The whitelist is never updated. The preview code doesn't seem to use the same list.
            • I've seen a lot of people attempt to use the pound sign only for it to show as &something. I was just curious how I could use it and they could not.
      • not a coder, so I genuinely don't understand

        You're not the only one. [Glances at CmdrTaco and CowboyNeal]

  • Sure, at first glance it looks good, but really this is a bad decision. We're going to see Scientologists demanding removal of any anti-Scientology material. The whole thing is a bit Stalinesque... people feel they have the right to erase the past just as Stalin erased those who fell out of favor from photographs.

    Once what you do is in the public record, it's out there. You have no more right to demand its removal from the Internet than you do to demand libraries cut out articles about you from archive

    • by gnupun (752725)

      Well, the anti-Scientology material does not belong to the Scientologists. The copyright owners of such material are the critics of Scientology. So the removal request will be denied.

      However, you should have the right to remove stuff from the internet that
      a) You own
      and
      b) Did not intend to publish (eg: internet search phrases)

      • by dskoll (99328)

        The material the plaintiff in this case wanted removed was not owned by him. It was simply the fact that at some point in the past, his home had been foreclosed --- a matter of public record.

  • 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.

    No sweat. There's no such thing as irrelevant or outdated data. Problem solved.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @12:09AM (#46996279) Homepage

    Any "right to be forgotten" needs to be accompanied by a "right to remember". Information legitimately published should never have to be removed from the web or pruned from search results. Information disclosed illegally is, of course, a different matter, but legitimate information, once published, should never be suppressed.

    Yesterdays decision is a blow to freedom of speech. It allows sweeping factual, legitimately published information under the rug simply because the subject doesn't like the fact that the information is public. It is censorship and nothing less.

    • by arobatino (46791)

      The so-called "right to be forgotten" would be more accurately described as the "right to force other people to forget". There is no such right, as you point out.

  • 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.

  • To anyone who claims this is infeasible: bullshit. In spite of some heated (and misinformed) opinions that are being vented in the media, this ruling does not specify that Google has to automatically erase all unwanted results; it only has to erase specific unwanted results upon request by the user. Given a proper legal framework (which will probably be there; the EU is not a common law jurisdiction), this is far less far-reaching than DMCA take-downs, which are already supported by pretty much every compan

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