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EU Google Privacy

Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the forget-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google has begun removing some search results to comply with a European Union ruling upholding citizens' right to have objectionable personal information about them hidden in search engines. "Google engineers overnight updated the company's technical infrastructure to begin implementing the removals, and Thursday began sending the first emails to individuals informing them that links they had requested were being taken down. The company has hired a dedicated 'removals team' to evaluate each request, though only a small number of the initial wave of takedown requests has so far been processed."
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Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling

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  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @05:33AM (#47331153)

    Data protection in the private sphere is one of the few areas where the EU has its shit together.

    It is easy for any determined person to use the Internet to destroy the average person's reputation - the only anecdotes are a lot of money or to hide yourself completely from the world so nobody's judgment is relevant.

    • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Friday June 27, 2014 @05:36AM (#47331159)
      True, but a lot of the requests come from politicians with dodgy pasts and paedophiles. I expect Muslims to get in on the act soon as well (I'm sure they'll say "it's not relevant that I called for the subjugation of non-muslims and women now I'm running for Bradford council"!).
      • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @05:44AM (#47331183)

        The requests from nasty people will be publicised because that is the most effective way to give the appearance that these laws are harmful, even though the majority of people have a legitimate, reasonable right to have their private lives kept private.

        As for politicians (including Muslims in public office, of course), they are in the public sphere and ought to be excepted in legislation. People convicted of sex abuses are harder to treat:
        1) there is a whole range of convictions from baby-fucking to taking the wrong photo of your 17 year old partner, all of which tend to get you on the same register;
        2) the public justice system should be effectively dealing with offenders - if they're a danger, they shouldn't be in the wilderness or unsupervised anyway;
        3) most "PAEDOS HIDING EVERYWHERE" is pussified scare-mongering. If you're going to be sexually abused, it's almost certainly by someone you know well.

        • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DarkTempes (822722) on Friday June 27, 2014 @06:42AM (#47331339)

          I agree that people have a legitimate, reasonable right to have their private lives kept private.
          I don't agree that public information on the internet that is indexed by Google constitutes private information.

          I can see a situation where someone illegally put your private information on the internet and you send a C&D and then get a court to order that website to remove that information and they comply and THEN you ask Google to remove it from search results (assuming it doesn't automatically get removed the next time the index is updated.)
          Maybe the website is in a different country and doesn't comply and you want Google to take it down.
          Then maybe I could understand an argument for a process to remove private information from Google.

          But if you post naked pictures of yourself on a forum or advocate cannibalism on twitter then tough luck. That's no longer private information as you just published it to the world.
          It's not like removing the information from their index without removing it from an actual website is going to make the information 'private' again.

          • Re:Good. (Score:4, Informative)

            by Poeli (573204) on Friday June 27, 2014 @06:57AM (#47331375)

            It's not like removing the information from their index without removing it from an actual website is going to make the information 'private' again.

            Nope, because google does not have to remove it from their index. All they have to remove is the link between a search term and a search result. The result can still show up if you use a different search term.

            • That would be wrong. They should remove it properly. It's not like they don't have the capability to do so. They do it every day for people who try to game the search engine.

              And as for having the information still available on websites, the by far most common way for people to find the website is through a search engine. Remove a website from the search engine indexes, and the website might as well not exist for the _vast_ majority of people.

          • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Friday June 27, 2014 @09:17AM (#47331995) Homepage

            That's not what the right to be forgotten is about. It's about maintaining the way information naturally used to fall from the public conciousness, and enforcing existing laws on the use of certain data.

            For example, someone who committed a crime a long time ago which is now considered spent by the state doesn't have to tell anyone about it. In the past the only records were in old newspapers and police archives, inaccessible to most people unless they were willing to invest significant time and money. Now those archived newspaper stories are preserved on the internet forever and only a Google search away.

            In the case that started all this a man had been bankrupt. That's a fact, but one which credit rating agencies are not allowed to report after a certain period of time has passed. If any bank could see the newspaper reports about the bankruptcy simply by searching Google that would have been undermined - society decided that after time bankruptcy would be "forgotten" so people could move on with their lives.

            • by Solandri (704621)

              In the case that started all this a man had been bankrupt. That's a fact, but one which credit rating agencies are not allowed to report after a certain period of time has passed. If any bank could see the newspaper reports about the bankruptcy simply by searching Google that would have been undermined - society decided that after time bankruptcy would be "forgotten" so people could move on with their lives.

              So what does Google have to do with it? What's to stop a bank from using a different search engine

          • "But if you post naked pictures of yourself on a forum or advocate cannibalism on twitter then tough luck. That's no longer private information as you just published it to the world."

            That's where I disagree. When we were young many (most?) of us did stuff which would ruin our carrier. Or maybe we did something "crooked" but now are "straight". But you know what ? Nobody would ever find out without spending a lot of money because information was not so easy to spread. So yeah we were kiddna protected as pe
          • It's not like removing the information from their index without removing it from an actual website is going to make the information 'private' again.

            I agree completely. The EU regulators are well-intentioned I'm sure, but they seem to be equating "Google" with "The Internet". That's a compliment to Google but very misleading. People are going to think they can take information off the internet by filing a request with Google.

        • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Zocalo (252965) on Friday June 27, 2014 @07:14AM (#47331437) Homepage

          The requests from nasty people will be publicised because that is the most effective way to give the appearance that these laws are harmful, even though the majority of people have a legitimate, reasonable right to have their private lives kept private.

          I'm curious whether Google is planning on posting a summary of this to Chilling Effects, just like they do for other takedown requests - something that I expect they will do at some point. No need to violate individual privacy requests, but a simple breakdown of what kind of information is being removed, in what kind of quantities and for what kind of reason/excuse should be sufficient to let people see whether or not this is being abused in any way. And for certain elements of the media to express their outrage over it, of course.

      • a lot of the requests

        Just ignoring your random racism for a moment, just because there's a *request* does not mean it will be honoured. The balance between public right to know and your privacy is still involved, and ultimately it's the Information Commissioner that gets to decide.

        • by Chrisq (894406)

          a lot of the requests

          Just ignoring your random racism for a moment, just because there's a *request* does not mean it will be honoured. The balance between public right to know and your privacy is still involved, and ultimately it's the Information Commissioner that gets to decide.

          You know something. If I changed religion my race would be the same. If I became a communist or a tea party member I would still be the same race. Difficult concept I know.

          • by MrL0G1C (867445)

            Does that make the prejudice less bad (or what is your point)? the Jewish in Germany were killed for their religion as were communists and many other social minorities AFAIK.

            The word prejudice doesn't sound as bad as 'racism' but racism is merely a simple subset of prejudice'

            • the Jewish in Germany were killed for their religion

              Nope. They were killed for their ethnicity. Even Jews that had been Christian for generations were killed.

            • the Jewish in Germany were killed for their religion as were communists and many other social minorities AFAIK.

              Um, the communists were killed for being communists, which is a political ideology, not a religion.

              Not that, y'know, the Nazis were trying very hard to justify their actions morally.

              • by MrL0G1C (867445)

                I didn't say that communism is a religion, I said they were killed for being part of a social group.

              • by MrL0G1C (867445)

                ... But like religious people, they were killed for their beliefs.

          • You know something. If I changed religion my race would be the same. If I became a communist or a tea party member I would still be the same race. Difficult concept I know.

            Fine, brilliant, I used the wrong word. Replace with "islamophobia", "prejudice" or "bigotry". Pick your favourite. They all come from the same place of ignorance & tribalism.

            • by oobayly (1056050)

              Right, so you chose the wrong word that had the biggest negative weight behind it.

              As for Islamophobia, I doubt many people are actually frightened by Islam, more that they are disgusted by its attitudes to other religions, women [google.co.uk], apostasy [youtu.be] and homosexuality. So again, wrong word. Anti-Islamic would probably the best description, and many people would not feel that being described as such would be negative, for the reasons stated above. I'm wouldn't really class myself as an anti-theist - believe what ever ma

              • by dave420 (699308)
                ChrisQ frequently makes posts complaining about Muslims or Islam, and usually without any good reason. You can check his history to confirm this. His post in this thread is merely one of many occasions.
                • by oobayly (1056050)

                  Yeah, about 10% of his posts mention "Muslim". A fairly large percentage of them are based on the Muslim - terrorist stereotype, a fair few have references to support criticisms of Islam. Nothing beats a bit of Friday afternoon Slashdot stalking! Quite frankly, he's got every right to be highly critical of Islam, but tarring everyone with the same bush certainly isn't reasonable.

                  The problem I have is that people are quite happy to throw around accusations racist, *phobic, bigot as an argument against somebo

                  • by dave420 (699308)
                    He is critical of Islam, yes, and that is quite valid in some respects, but he seems to assume that all Muslims are fundamentalists, and then judges each and every one of them on that merit, which is indeed lazy as fuck, and borderline evil. It's easy to call him a bigot, as he is bigoted. He's the very definition of a bigot. One does not need to post a link to a dictionary to make that clear.
                    • by oobayly (1056050)

                      I don't expect a link to a dictionary, just something to support calling a person a bigot. You did so here, and somewhere else down the thread:

                      You always bang on about Muslims. You really should read more unbiased news outlets, as you clearly have been corrupted by forces just as evil as the evil Muslims you think exist. See how that works? Of course not - you're a hate-filled bigot.

                      jareth further up the thread just went for the "you're a racist" argument.

                  • by Triklyn (2455072)

                    moderate islam is the fertile ground from which extreme islam springs. You've got polls all over the place that say that a significant minority of the islamic populace support the actions of suicide bombers. lots in the 20-30 percent range felt sympathy for their motives. I acknowledge the majority of muslims wouldn't consider killing others. but if they don't want to be painted with the same brush as terrorists, they might want to stand a bit further from them.

                    http://www.thereligionofpeace.... [thereligionofpeace.com] :) i am

              • Not to mention that it's not an irrational fear when they have a demonstrated history of bombings. It becomes a justified fear.

                I've for some time been against the use of -phobia to mean "any negative attitude about" e.g. homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia (for a less recent example). It's overloading a psychiatric term to stigmatize a social viewpoint, and seems purposely misleading in a way that most people can't differentiate.

        • Just ignoring your random racism for a moment,

          Actually religious discrimination, if anything.

          just because there's a *request* does not mean it will be honoured.

          In practice, yes--yes it does. Google seems to be practically the only company not rolling over and yanking stuff, and now they caved to this demand.

      • True, but a lot of the requests come from politicians with dodgy pasts and paedophiles. I expect Muslims to get in on the act soon as well (I'm sure they'll say "it's not relevant that I called for the subjugation of non-muslims and women now I'm running for Bradford council"!).

        While I agree with your conclusion (That these take downs are bad) I dislike your argumentum ad metum reasoning.

        By your reasoning it would "ok" if 'the innocent' had the ability to remove information about themselves from the Internet. Then you go on to describe groups of people you dislike that should not be allowed to remove information from the Internet, almost as punishment. The goals of the petitioners are irrelevant. We are all equal, weather you feel we're good or bad shouldn't affect your argument.

        A

        • I read his comment as "True" referring to the second paragraph of the OP, in which case he is arguing that no one should have the right to be forgotten and the Muslim reference was an example of why it was a bad idea, not an exception to whom should be protected.

      • True, but a lot of the requests come from politicians with dodgy pasts and paedophiles.

        Yeah, but there are also millions of people who posted rather silly posts when drunk as a student, or other minor mistakes, who now have good careers and who want to get rid of some undesirable content about them on the internet.

        Paedophiles, as well as any other criminal, have the right to make a new start after having served their sentence. The court determines a punishment, and often a treatment, and after that these people deserve the chance to make a new start (otherwise, the sentence is for life... and

        • The fact that your crime is not forgotten does not make it a life sentence. We all know that George Bush plead guilty to DUI when he was young, and yet, he was still able to find gainful employment (i.e. president of the US), because most people were willing to forgive him for something he did in his youth.

          The fact is, the knowledge in my head is mine, and, assuming that I didn't sign a contract to keep it a secret, I have every right to make that information publicly available and searchable on a search e
          • by Jiro (131519)

            George Bush was elected long enough ago that the Internet was much less influential back then.

            He also is a high level politician connected to a large money-making machine. There are two categories of people who aren't affected much by out of context information on the Internet (or in the media): people with nothing to lose, and people who are so rich and powerful that even the Internet can't damage them that much.

            • If a person is "affected by" out of context information, that simply means that other people decided to act differently towards that person based on that out of context information. You may not like how these other people decided to treat that person (i.e. refused to offer him or her a job in a particular industry), but these people are human beings, and therefore, entitled to make their own decisions, even in situations where you believe they are not fully informed.

              By suppressing information because you b
        • Yeah, but there are also millions of people who posted rather silly posts when drunk as a student, or other minor mistakes, who now have good careers and who want to get rid of some undesirable content about them on the internet.

          Unfortunately, in the real world, decisions have consequences-- and the dangers of allowing historical revisionism far far outweigh the marginal benefits of allowing a frat boy with a record of DUIs to get a "fresh start".

        • Like I said last time, this is trying to legislate a technological solution to a social problem.

          People should not *care* what your past is if you've already atoned for it (crimes) or it was just your average dumb hijinks (drunk pics). Getting people to think this way would solve the problem without needing to damage the Internet.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        You always bang on about Muslims. You really should read more unbiased news outlets, as you clearly have been corrupted by forces just as evil as the evil Muslims you think exist. See how that works? Of course not - you're a hate-filled bigot.
      • by B33rNinj4 (666756)
        Exactly. It's going to be abused by those in power to cover up issues they'd prefer to forget.
      • We lived perfectly well 20 years ago before Google existed. The world didn't explode, just because we didn't know everything that someone else didn't want us to know. We had muckrakers, aka investigative journalists, who went looking to unearth secrets that were broadly in the public interest. But there weren't enough journalists to cover everybody's little secrets, most people were safe from having their laundry aired, and the journos had to prioritise to try to cover the most important stuff that actually
    • the only anecdotes are a lot of money or to hide yourself completely from the world

      I'm not so sure. That seems like just antidotal evidence to me.

    • None of this has anything to do with data protection, as its all public information that Google has been told to remove - if it is untrue or unfair information that you are wanting expunged from the public record, then there are already processes in place for you to do so, for example libel or slander against untrue or unduly unfair information posted on a website.

      Removing private data from websites has long been covered under EU data protection laws, but this new ruling expands the powers to data that is a

    • Bad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Friday June 27, 2014 @07:18AM (#47331453)

      This is like locking the door after the cow has bolted the barn. If there's something nasty about you that got out into the internets, the better solution would be to have Google downgrade the search results. Or maybe just mark it the way Google flags malware or hide it behind some sort of "Safe Search"-like filter.

      The way I see it, Google's compliance gives it less of a right to object to a government, such as China, pushing for Google to censor its results in the name of something supposedly more important, social stability because those nasty dissidents are harming the reputation of the Party bosses, who we all know are models of virtue until purged and officially denounced.

      • Merely hiding the information means that when Google sells its database to companies, those hidden records will be sold too. Then the issue propagates.

        You have to understand that Google is a business, whose primary responsibility is to its shareholders. It must do anything that will improve shareholder value, which right now only means spying on people, but when the next great competitor arises and they're struggling they'll be selling their assets. Anything they have collected by then will be fair game.

    • the only anecdotes are a lot of money or to hide yourself completely from the world so nobody's judgment is relevant.

      The only short stories are a lot of money or to hide???

      I trust you really meant "antidotes"?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Data protection in the private sphere is one of the few areas where the EU has its shit together.

      But I don't think this is "having their shit together" - I think this is good intentions gone wrong. I'm waiting for an industrious individual to set up a site which compares the US and EU versions of Google search terms and makes things that people are trying to hide more obvious. By singling out search results, they are making it clear which data is more important. It is rare to get human-curated data like this. It is similar to the way Google links to the DMCA requests in their search results - that is t

    • Theyre also pretty solid on the censorship and historical revision departments.

      It is easy for any determined person to use the Internet to destroy the average person's reputation

      You commit the action, you gain a reputation. Thats how the world works; society may impose a punitive judgement on you and you may serve your time, but theres no reason that people should magically forget what you did.

      You want to know the easy way to avoid all of this? Dont do scummy things that will give yourself a bad reputation.

  • steve balmer chair throwing [google.co.uk] is still there.
  • "You have just been erased."
  • Never trust a politician anyway.
  • So, what you're telling me is that from now on, people with a past that could hurt them if made public will call Google to tell them?

    "Hi, Google, I'm a black mail victim. Here is a list of things someone could blackmail me with"

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      "Hi, Google, I'm a black mail victim. Here is a list of things someone could blackmail me with"

      Surely its the other way round - the one way to guarantee that you won't be blackmailed over something is full public disclosure. Nobody's going to blackmail Graham Norton by threatening to reveal he's gay - but the quiet bloke who keeps it secret on the other hand might just pay.

      • The quiet bloke may have a legitimate reason. His neighbors may be bigoted to the extent that he may not survive the year if he comes out of the closet.
        (While that is an effective method to get those bigoted idiots in jail, I would not consider it a valuable one.)

        Full disclosure is not always the answer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @06:01AM (#47331229)

    That's interesting: I was goggling for "Erich Spangenberg" who is what is known to us technical people as a patent troll and at the bottom of page 1 of the google links I see,

    "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe. Learn more"

    That's the first time I've seen that message. Sounds like someone is doing reputation management.

    • "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe. Learn more"

      That's the first time I've seen that message. Sounds like someone is doing reputation management.

      Duhh... I am in Finland and for my Google searches I get that message for tons of famous people, including musicians, athletes, politicians, etc. Not sure if any conclusions can be made of it.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      I see it using the .co.uk, but not the .com.
      • I see it using the .co.uk, but not the .com

        google.com is the US-based site and isn't subject to these rules.

    • Google was originally going to show that message only on pages that had results removed. But that would make too much sense so the EU banned it, because then you'd know someone was trying to hide something! So now they just put that message on every query that contains a name.

      After the cookie law that broke my browser settings by displaying a stupid nag on every website I visit, I thought the EU couldn't fuck over internet users even more, but yup they found a way!

    • From the FAQ [google.ie]:

      When you search for a name, you may see a notice that says that results may have been modified in accordance with data protection law in Europe. We’re showing this notice in Europe when a user searches for most names, not just pages that have been affected by a removal.

  • How long will pass to have a chilling effect.org like for this types of requests? It will be cool to check what people want to hide.
  • My concern is how Google handles removing things accurately. This isn't the white pages-- there isn't some person assembling these indices. They've generated by learning algorithms, and those algorithms themselves misclassify information. So how do you get all of your references removed without inflicting collateral damage? What about people with the same name? Furthermore, how does Google know that requests are legitimate? You can imagine political candidates requesting that Google remove their oppon
  • (...) though only a small number of the initial wave of takedown requests has so far been processed.

    Typical. They use the fastest algorithms to show search results, but when it comes to takedown requests, they just seem to do stuff when it suits them.
    I hope things will improve, though classical capitalism-theory predicts they will not.

    • When doing something you detest is legally mandated and appeals won't work, your only real recourses are dragging your feet or shutting down your company.

  • I assume US citizens can still find this stuff in searches.

  • by PPH (736903)

    I want incorrect, out of date or otherwise objectionable material removed from the Internet (yes, I know that's a tall order). So I depend on search engines like Google to find it for me. And then I can go after the sites hosting it. If you break Google (and other public search engines), people will still be able to find the information.

    It doesn't take that much effort to find sites that host personal data and then search within each of them to look up dirt on someone. And there are aggregator sites that c

  • I suggest a differential search. It needs to show what is not on, for example, Google.co.uk but is visible on the Google.com site. People in anything from business or healthcare to news or politics will need whatever has been suppressed to be brought to their immediate attention.

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