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Privacy EU Google The Internet

Thousands of Europeans Petition For Their 'Right To Be Forgotten' 224

Posted by timothy
from the don't-call-me-a-spammer-that-was-a-long-time-ago dept.
The EU's new rule (the result of a court case published May 13) requiring that online businesses remove on request information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" has struck a chord with more than 12,000 individuals, a number that's rising fast. Other search engines, ISPs, and firms are sure to follow, but the most prominent reaction to the decision thus far, and one that will probably influence all the ones to come, is Google's implementation of an online form that users can submit to request that information related to them be deleted. The Daily Mail reports that the EU ruling "has already been criticised after early indications that around 12 per cent of applications were related to paedophilia. A further 30 per cent concern fraud and 20 per cent were about people's arrests or convictions"; we mentioned earlier this month one pedophile's request for anonymity. As the First Post story linked above puts it, the requirement that sites scrub their data on request puts nternet companies in the position of having to interpret the court’s broad criteria for information meeting the mandate's definition of "forgettable," "as well as developing criteria for distinguishing public figures from private individuals." Do you favor opt-out permissions for reporting facts linked to individuals? What data or opinions about themselves should people not be able to suppress? (Note: Google's form has this disclaimer: "We're working to finalize our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request." That finalization may take some time, since there are 28 data-protection agencies across the EU to harmonize.)
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Thousands of Europeans Petition For Their 'Right To Be Forgotten'

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  • Is privacy requires work.
    • But "privacy" should not mean that the right to hide your past should take priority over the right of others to speak the truth.

      • Re:All I'll say... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:37AM (#47135861)

        And would that be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

        Because "Three years ago, Fred was charged with child sex offences" might be a true statement, but it's a very different statement to "Three years ago, Fred was charged with child sex offences, but was unanimously found not guilty by a jury after the person pressing the charges turned out to be his ex-wife's best friend, who was subsequently convicted of perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice after evidence emerged that she had paid all three of the prosecution's other witnesses to make co-ordinated false accusations against Fred."

        I'm not sure anyone deserves to have long-past transgressions haunt them forever, even if they are reported factually. There are enough unwarranted prejudices in society, without someone struggling to get a job at 40 because the Internet never forgets that they were once cautioned for stealing a chocolate bar at the age of 14.

        Either way, merely "This is the truth, so I may speak it without taking any responsibility for the consequences" has always been a horribly dangerous principle to support. Context is everything when it comes to reputations, and never more so than in the Internet age where reputations can last forever and reach all around the world.

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          That's why we have libel and slander laws.

          I also think police and prosecutors should be held to libel and slander. When they raid a house and find a kitchen scale, they should not use biased terms such as "drug paraphernalia" that poisons the jury pool and reputation of the person they are investigating, in fact they and the prosecutor should not speak until trial and let it go there where the other side has an equal voice.

          Also, the sex laws in place are ridiculous and need to be laxed.

          But I don't recogniz

          • The trouble with libel and slander laws is that they are overwhelmingly used by those who are high profile public figures, where the potential damages they will win and the media coverage that will probably result might actually justify the insane costs of bringing a formal legal action under those laws.

            For the other 99.99% of the population, the reality is that even if someone says something blatantly untrue that severely damages the victim's career, it still may not be worth bringing a case in a lot of ju

          • When they raid a house and find a kitchen scale, they should not use biased terms such as "drug paraphernalia" that poisons the jury pool and reputation of the person they are investigating,

            I agree. Unfortunately, though, depending on your local jurisdiction, some common tools (like anything that looks like lab glassware) may automatically be defined as "drug precursors" or "paraphenalia." Texas has a particularly notorious [state.tx.us] set of regulations about this, which requires you to get a permit to own things like a basic boiling flask or Erlenmeyer. They even include things like a "filter funnel" or "separatory funnel" on the list -- I wonder if a gravy separator counts....

            So -- sometimes truth

    • Re:All I'll say... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bondsbw (888959) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @09:52AM (#47135649)

      And not everyone agrees on the definition of privacy, what qualifies as "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant", or what to do with misleading information.

      A friend was recently arrested for sexual acts on a child at a daycare. Neither the newspaper nor the police department cared that there were witnesses that say it couldn't have happened. They didn't care that it took years for it to come up from a child who almost certainly was too young to even remember what happened that many years ago. They didn't care that the father had some longstanding beef with the daycare he worked at. Nope, they just wanted to plaster my friend's name and face across the internet and newspapers. The result? Death threats, loss of job, losing his and his parents' savings for bail... yeah, basically turning the life around of one of the (morally) best people I've ever known, without justification and without apology.

      I'm not sure this will ever truly have a solution.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Under civil systems, inquisitorial systems, making any kind of false claim to the police results in a criminal trial where the claimant can get huge penalties. We don't have that in our common law / adversarial system but we could introduce it if people wanted. If you think it is a good idea push for it.

        • Re:All I'll say... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:29AM (#47135821)

          That's all very well, but you're talking about someone whose life is being destroyed right now. Starting a slow process so no-one else will suffer a similar fate in a decade or two is great, but woefully inadequate for the problem at hand (to which some degree of solution should already be available in most western democracies, via some version of wrongful arrest law and some version of defamation law, both of which should be designed for exactly these kinds of circumstances).

          Perhaps the single most important argument for why defamation laws should exist at all is that once someone's reputation has been tainted, often no apology or correction can ever truly undo all the damage. This is also, IMHO, a strong argument for not allowing anyone to be named as a suspect or defendant in a criminal case prior to at least having them charged with something, or preferably having them properly convicted by a competent court.

          If the situation with the GP's friend really was as described, then neither the police nor the media were behaving in a neutral, acceptable way, and both should be dealt with accordingly. And then the individual's public record should quite rightly be cleansed and the unproven allegations "forgotten", which is the whole point of the European legal position we're talking about.

      • by s.petry (762400)

        Look, I'm as anti-pedophile as anyone you will ever find. That said, we have to use common sense methods for tracking them and managing them because rehabilitation does not work very often with that type of person. An Internet search company is not the police, they can't do anything to protect society from a pedophile (or any other type of criminal). You can't hold an Internet search company responsible for data that is flat out wrong. According to TFA 88% of the people requesting data be removed are NO

      • It's pretty basic knowledge, at least to me, that if you want to ruin someone, just fabricate some pedo evidence regarding them. Law enforcement just jumps on that stuff at even the slightest suggestion someone might be up to it. Just being accused is enough to ruin most people's lives.

        For the computer savvy, this is even easier to do if you can gain access to your target's computer(s). And I would suspect it's really hard to prove your innocence if accused. And in my opinion, this is one of those crime

    • by hey! (33014)

      Is privacy requires work.

      But you should say more: "Violating privacy requires work too. The difference is nobody is making money from privacy."

  • by skywire (469351) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @09:34AM (#47135553)

    The fundamental flaw in all this is that Google is not a big website full of content that they publish. Google indexes content on other websites. If someone wants to use the state to force others not to publish truthful information about them (questionable in itself), then let them go after those doing the publishing. Google is the wrong target.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      G+ would disagree with that statement wouldn't it?

      • by Entrope (68843)

        G+ is a counterexample only to the extent that individuals posting to G+ are Google employees acting within the scope of that employment. In the same way that Facebook isn't liable when its users upload defamatory or infringing content (because they have a way to handle complaints), Google isn't automatically liable when third parties post information to G+ or Blogger or wherever else.

    • Google is certainly the wrong target, but they are very well placed to capitalise on any forthcoming law. The correct way of dealing with content is, with sufficient justification, to require that it is removed from the sites. Who knows better than Google where that content is? What better influence to comply with such requirements than "you may be removed from Google". Search engines are in prime position to capitalise on any sort of mandate to remove or issue take-down notices provided there's a small
      • An analogy is credit rating - they don't lend the money but they have influence over those that do. You need to clear your name with the agency not the lender.

        What kind of analogy is this??

        (1) The present scenario concerning the "right to be forgotten" has to do with deleting factual information from a database, whereas you can't get factual information deleted from your credit report. You can only get errors corrected.

        (2) The credit reporting agencies don't really "have influence over" lenders. They are responsible for providing accurate information, but it's not like they can strong-arm a lender into making changes to their records.

        (3) Legally, the agen

    • That's what I find so strange about this ruling. Search engines like Google have to remove links to certain articles, but newspapers and journalists are explicitly protected when publishing said articles.

      http://m.holdthefrontpage.co.u... [holdthefrontpage.co.uk]

      This is kind of like legalizing piracy while at the same time forcing The Pirate Bay to remove links.

      • by jonsmirl (114798)

        The ruling is insane. If the EU really wants to implement this insanity the best way would be for the sites hosting the article to include a 'do not index' meta tag which Google would then respect. Doing it that way places the burden where it belongs - on the author of the stories, not on the search engine.

        Going after the URLs directly at Google is a total exercise in a whack a mole since the links are always changing. You're just going to end up with another pile of automated systems generating millions o

        • by jonsmirl (114798)

          Heck, I can even see source sites generating automated ways to combat this. Continuously keep poking Google to reindex your site. When you see the Google crawler insert meaningless random tidbits into the URLs. Now the other side of the robot war will keep issuing takedowns on these randomized URLs but since there is a cycle time of a week or so you will always have a set of working URLs in the Google index.

  • US (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @09:46AM (#47135605)

    The UK and most of Europe is unlike the US in that once convicted criminals that have been punished, unless of a particularly serious crime, there are laws protecting their rights to not have that information disclosed, so that they can resume a normal job or whatever in society.

    With the US system of throwing more people into prison per capita than pretty much any other country, and also that in the US such things are permanently on your record, it can only make it much harder for ex-cons to ever find work again and resume a lawful life. The system is self-defeating in making it much more likely that ex-cons actually have no option but to turn back to crime to even make a living.

    The problem with Google is that they are clearly assuming that US law/mindset should operate worldwide. Google need to get over themselves and make sure their information retention follows the same rehabilitation law that exists already to protect the rights of ex-offenders, for a very good reason.

    IMHO we should have the right to control any and all information about us that is stored by corporations. We should also be able to force them to disclose all the info they do store about us. In fact the whole question of who owns that information should be determined. I beleive if the information is about you, then you should own it and so have full control of it.

    • by Entrope (68843)

      What qualifies as a serious crime? If someone is convicted of stealing client funds, and they go to jail for a decade, are they allowed to walk right back into handling other people's money once they get out? Europeans needs to get over themselves and realize that some parts of the world contain people who are able to make their own judgments about who is trustworthy, for a very good reason.

      Also, the facts that the US criminal justice system is rigged against defendants, that it severely punishes a lot of

    • I just don't follow this reasoning. We're talking about truthful, factual, and legitimate content. If you were a reporter reporting facts, why should I have the "God-given right" to determine what you write about me? Why should I be able to take down a link to an article that I don't hold the copyright to? I shouldn't, because I (or anyone else) don't own "facts" about you. This is a really slippery slope, my friend.
    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      There are two things here.

      1. Keep information from being disclosed.
      2. Remove information from the web.

      If it is important that the information is kept secret then it should not be on the web to begin with. I'm totally fine with 1. up to a point. But 2. terrifies me, that's an extremely slipper slope we're going down there.

    • by jonsmirl (114798)

      You are aiming at the wrong target. Google blindly indexes what it finds on the web. The right solution was for the EU to require the sites hosting the source articles to include a "do not index" meta tag which Google would then respect. Put this burden where it belongs - on the author of the stories, not the search engine.

    • by mmell (832646)
      Why should Google care at all? They only search websites and return search results. Think of them as a common carrier. They don't create the data, they only catalog and organize the data - sorta like maintaining and publishing a phone book.

      Google isn't publishing criminal records, only showing users where those records are. What part of this is Google's fault?

    • The problem with Google is that they are clearly assuming that US law/mindset should operate worldwide. Google need to get over themselves and make sure their information retention follows the same rehabilitation law that exists already to protect the rights of ex-offenders, for a very good reason.

      I don't understand -- how is Google "assuming" this? As far as I can tell, Google's explicit assumptions are as follows: (1) there is an internet, (2) it has information on it, (3) there should be an index of that information.

      I don't see how any of this implies that Google is "assuming" anything about US law or anything about the rights of ex-offenders.

      If information is so defaming to a person's character that it should be eliminated from an index, shouldn't that information be deleted from the primary

      • by Zironic (1112127)

        You're going towards this completely backwards. The European approach to this is not that it should be impossible for people to find out the past history of other people, it should simply require effort.

        The intent of this law is simply to make sure that when someone googles your name, then your past criminal record is not the first result on your search history. If someone wants to find out your criminal record, they're still perfectly free to ask for it as it remains a public record.

        • You're going towards this completely backwards. The European approach to this is not that it should be impossible for people to find out the past history of other people, it should simply require effort.

          I completely understand what the European approach is here, and I didn't say I disagreed with it. I do disagree that Google is somehow the primary responsible party, however -- which the post I was responding to claimed. It's not like Google is deliberately trying to flout privacy laws -- it's just indexing information. If we want to rein them in, then we should, but let's not pretend they're doing this maliciously or deliberately trying to avoid some sort of "rights."

          And if you re-read my post, you sh

          • by Zironic (1112127)

            I think that much of your confusion comes from this idea of responsibility. It's not that google did anything wrong by indexing the information in question, google is still free to index anything relevant just like newspapers are free to publish anything relevant.

            When someone is sentenced by court, the newspaper is allowed to publish that information and google is allowed to index it, someone googling that information at that point in time is supposed to be able to find that information. Some years later wh

            • I think that much of your confusion comes from this idea of responsibility. It's not that google did anything wrong by indexing the information in question

              Umm, I think you're the one who is "confused." Let's assume some good faith here, huh? I'm NOT the one making any claim that Google is responsible. Again, here is the quotation I originally was responding to in the OP:

              The problem with Google is that they are clearly assuming that US law/mindset should operate worldwide. Google need to get over themselves and make sure their information retention follows the same rehabilitation law that exists already to protect the rights of ex-offenders, for a very good reason.

              It was the OP who was overly concerned with Google's "assumptions" and apparent motives adhering to a "US mindset" or whatever. I was just responding to that.

              When someone is sentenced by court, the newspaper is allowed to publish that information and google is allowed to index it, someone googling that information at that point in time is supposed to be able to find that information. Some years later when that sentencing is no longer relevant the newspaper is still out there and can be accessed in archives, however the information is no longer to be actively published. This is the point in time where people are now allowed to require google to stop indexing that content.

              I'm not an idiot. I understand perfectly well what the court ruling says, and I actually agree that it is a good first step. What

              • by Zironic (1112127)

                It will work at achieving what it is trying to achieve. You appear to be under the impression it is intended to prevent people from finding the information if they are looking for it. It is not.

                It is simply intended to prevent the information from following you around. To prevent people from finding it when they're not even looking for it.

    • by Tom (822)

      The system is self-defeating in making it much more likely that ex-cons actually have no option but to turn back to crime to even make a living.

      What makes you think that's a defeat? In a world where running a prison is a highly profitable industry, keeping the prison filled is a business strategy, not a defeat.

  • The problem with this "right", is that another way of stating it is "the right to reach into every computer in the planet and delete anything about you".

    Not only is that right a violation of other people's property rights, it's pragmatically impossible to actually implement.

  • i just do not get this.

    as someone who battles on a daily basis with the sins of my past ( nowadays even women i try to date run criminal background checks ), i don't see how this effort is going to really help anyone.the way they think it is.

    there are all sorts of FREE sites that dish the public information that these people are trying to block Google from aggregating, and the moment these privacy invaders realize Google no longer is a valid source for getting the info their paranoia craves, they will find another site that does.

    you are living under a proverbial pre-interwebz rock if you think this Google opt-out form is going to prevent the people are are interesting in screening and snooping from learning things from your background like felony convictions and such.

    • And I just don't get what all the opposition is about... it's not a perfect solution, but since people haven't come up with a perfect solution I am quite happy to go with a change that *helps*.

    • by mmell (832646)
      The thing is (if I've understood this correctly) they (the other publicly available information sources) will also be bound by the "right to privacy".

      This will probably result in a new industry - private, pay-for-play sites which provide the same information. It's not freely available, and one line in the TOS to the effect that the information gathered there is not to be published or disseminated should cover the pay site's interests nicely. The data will be available to paying customers only, making it

      • The Europeans are playing 'cat and mouse' with a gorilla - a very smart gorilla, I might add. Regulating search engines is the most obvious way to attack this issue at a centralized point, but as you've pointed out the data will still be out there on one or many more other loci; only now it'll take more effort to identify all of the places where that data exists.

        you put what i was trying to say in a much more eloquent way than I...bravo...i couldn't agree more.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      there are all sorts of FREE sites that dish the public information that these people are trying to block Google from aggregating

      Not in Europe. Credit agencies are strictly controlled (the original case was a guy who was bankrupt years ago). Criminal records are not public information. Employers can ask the police to confirm what you tell them about any criminal record, but if the conviction is spent you don't have to tell them about it and that's that.

      More over commercial entities are not allowed to store data about an individual unless they have some genuine reason to, and only for a limited period of time. The individual has the r

  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @09:57AM (#47135683)

    What is with this obsession for using pedophiles to justify the erosion of rights and privacy? No, don't answer that, it was a rhetorical question.

    Pedophiles are no worse than rapists, murderers and other criminals that cause physical harm to others. In fact I would rate them as a lower threat than murderers. How come we consider pedophiles so reprehensible that we go out of our way to ruin their lives forever yet we don't think twice about doing the same for a murderers or serially violent criminals? Should I have the right to know if my neighbor was in jail for killing someone? Shouldn't I be aware that someone in my neighborhood was jailed for beating a man to within an inch of his life? They don't respect life any more than a pedophile.

    And the most idiotic aspect of registering sex offenders is we just lump everyone together. Sex offences can be everything from getting caught pissing on the bushes (your willy is hanging out), mooning someone (yes it is indecent exposure), a 16 y/o having consensual sex with an 18 y/o (statutory rape), right up to full blown violent 1978 "I spit on your grave" rape. So registry maps are full of useless noise.

    Lets take it a step further and also make public a list of people who have: been arrested for drug possession, burglary, prostitution, and assault. This way we can all live in fear of our neighbors. Sounds great right?

    I realize the EU is probably different than the US but every time this crap rolls around idiots start yammering about pedophiles and children.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'm going to spend some time on this, so you would do well to read along. You have a knee-jerk response which strays from pedophiles to sex offender registry to argument ad absurdum, and it's not even clear if you point is "I'm a raging pedophile and don't like being singled out", or more likely "I'm on the sex offender registry for peeing in a parking garage", or if you are making some point about privacy. So here's everything you need to know, so that you can make a more coherent post next time.

      "Pedophi

  • the remembered have no control over the rememberers remembering.

    • Exactly. If you fill out a form to ask Google to forget about you, all that'll happen, most likely, is that Google will have another piece of information about you - that you don't want information about you to be made public.

      Sure they'll remove stuff about your from their search results, but rest assured *they* won't erase anything. Information on people is much too valuable to waste, just because something as trivial as the law says they must delete it.

      Who's gonna check that they complied eh? Is that even

  • "The right to be forgotten" requires a great imposition on others. If I observed you in a cafe, what would it take for you to assert your right to be forgotten? Why is it any different in the case of a group of individuals or a corporation?

    My memory of you is part of my identity, something you have no right to.

  • The pedo's problem is easy. He has no right to be forgotten. When you commit a crime and are properly convicted, you give up some rights. At least that's how it is in the US. If you're a felon you lose the right to vote, bear arms, etc. even after you're out of prison. You might be able to get them back, but they're no longer rights. You have to work to get them back.

    So. If Europe has any laws about sex offender notification they should trump the right to be forgotten. If they don't have such laws,

  • In general I disagree with the idea of a "right to be forgotten". Rather than trying to "forget" the past pretend that all that embarrassing and/or illegal stuff never happened, how about if we all grow up and, as a society recognize that people do dumb shit and can actually change over time. You shouldn't have the "right" to track down and burn all the copies of photos of you smoking weed that you happily plastered all over your Facebook page when you were in college. It happened, and if someone still ha
  • Google probably has to attempt to comply with this law. It has extensive operations in Europe. That will probably result in a lot of information that people would like to have being unavailable through Google. This will probably include a lot of legitimate info, as misusers learn how to game the system.

    On the other hand, DuckDuckGo, appears to be a US only operation. Because of the SPEECH Act [gpo.gov], DuckDuckGo could probably ignore European demands. A judgement against DuckDuckGo would be difficult to enforce.

  • by Tom (822) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @12:09PM (#47136403) Homepage Journal

    What a setback to stone-age ethics.

    What happened to "having paid your debt to society" ? Stop listening to the prison industry.

    Also, "30% were about pedophiles" doesn't tell you anything. Quite a few accusations into that direction are false, sometimes mislead and sometimes intentionally fraudulent, because there's no easier way to ruin a man's life than having his face in the papers with the word "pedophile" next to it. And more often than not, when the court case reveals that everything was made up and doesn't have one leg to stand on, the papers won't report that on the front page. And if someone googles for it, they are much more likely to find something saying you are a pedophile than the tiny page-20 posting that said actually no, you aren't.

    If you're wrongly accused of a crime, you absolutely have every right to have that forgotten. In fact, this is probably the prime example as to why we need such a right.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      I completely understand that a lot of people rightfully wish to have some things removed. The problem is the risks that is included with this kind of legislation. Being able to demand that public information about you is removed solely because you don't like it is a gigantic door-opener for all kinds of future abuse.

      • by Tom (822)

        Are you for real?

        What kind of "abuse" are you imagining here? The proper procedure for judging people is a trial and a courthouse, not the Internet. And negative stuff about people on the Internet has a roughly 50/50 chance of being made up anyways.

        • Are you for real? I have to make judgements about people all of the time, pretty much everyone not living as a hermit does. I don't have the luxury of dragging them to a courthouse and putting them in front of a jury when I need to make those judgements. If we can't base those judgements by what kind of a person have they been, what do you suggest? Perhaps some of the old fallbacks, like the color of their skin or how much they profess to love god?
          • by Tom (822)

            If we can't base those judgements by what kind of a person have they been, what do you suggest?

            Going by facts instead of rumours, you jerk!

            There is nothing simpler than accusing someone of a crime they didn't commit, and in the case of pedophilia, that is guaranteed to ruin a man's life and very likely to end his career. And now you want to judge him in the future as well, good job.

            You want to base your judgement of a persons character on Internet searches and on things that they did years ago, wtf?

            Have you heard about actually talking to people, and creating your own judgement from personal interact

  • I think that we should first start observing the "right to be forgotten" by forgetting about anything these petitioners say.
  • What is this intended for?
    So, let's assume your submit the form to google and you are successfully removed, what does happen??

    You are a EU citizen, and anybody using any Europe located IP, will not see the info you wanted to be removed in a search they do. Cool, so you won't see yourself appearing on the pages you search for...
    Except that...
    People outside Europe will still see relevant results without any problem. The info is not removed or blacklisted in google, it just doesn't appear into european search

  • Who decides what is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant"?

    The Court points out that the data subject may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine (the controller) which must then duly examine its merits. Where the controller does not grant the request, the data subject may bring the matter before the supervisory authority or the judicial authority so that it carries out the necessary checks and orders the controller to take specific measures accordingly.

    Google would be required to rule on the voracity of the request or defend themselves in court. Do you really think that is Google's job?

    The main stupidity of this ruling is that it says that posting the information is OK.

    The AEPD rejected the complaint against La Vanguardia, taking the view that the information in question had been lawfully published by it.

    but Google has to remove references to it.

    On the other hand, the complaint was upheld as regards Google Spain and Google Inc

    So it is OK to post the information but not OK to facilitate the information being found. I find those positions in opposition.

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