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Google Reinstating Some 'Forgotten' Links 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-that-a-point-has-been-made dept.
An anonymous reader writes Only days after receiving harsh criticism from all corners of the internet for taking down links to news articles, Google has started to reinstate those links. Google's Peter Barron denied that they were simply granting all "right to be forgotten" requests. "The European Court of Justice [ECJ] ruling was not something that we welcomed, that we wanted — but it is now the law in Europe and we are obliged to comply with that law," he said. Still, Google's actions are being called "tactical" for how quickly they were able to stir public dissent over the EU ruling. "It's convenient, then, that it's found a way to get the media to kick up the fuss for it: there are very few news organisations in the world who are happy to hear their output is being stifled. A few automated messages later, the story is back in the headlines – and Google is likely to be happy about that."
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Google Reinstating Some 'Forgotten' Links

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  • Hmm, (Score:4, Funny)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:23PM (#47385247)

    I totally forgot about this story until just now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone honestly expect anything less? The "right to be forgotten" was bound to disproportionately hit news organizations by nature.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:30PM (#47385271) Journal

    People see this law for what it is, a way for the rich/politicians/scum to get rid of stories that make them look like the twats they are.

    • by Meshach (578918)

      People see this law for what it is, a way for the rich/politicians/scum to get rid of stories that make them look like the twats they are.

      To be fair the idea is for results that are libelous or potentially (legally) damaging to a person to be removed. Making someone look like a twat is not to be removed (or at least should not be deleted). Google seems to be pushing the envelope on what they are removing to provoke resistance to the law in the hope of getting it changed.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:42PM (#47385321)
        Results that are libelous should result in court cases against the persons making the libelous publications. Following their conviction in a court of law, the judge should rule that the offending content should be suppressed. This ludicrous hassling of search indexes is not the answer.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's got nothing at all to do with libel. The Data Protection rules concern information about individuals gathered by commercial entities. If a company wants to hold people's personal details they must abide by the rules. One of the rules is that information can only be kept as long as it is relevant and up to date. This was originally to stop companies keeping people on file indefinitely after their relationship had long ago ended, and the data becoming increasingly inaccurate. Everything from junk mail se

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        There is already a remedy for that though, if its libel than you sue for libel; so either this law is nothing new or its something entirely new that people claim it is and away for people to whitewash facts about themselves.

      • by Mike Buddha (10734) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:12PM (#47385691)

        There are plenty of laws in existence to deal with libelous or legally damaging stories on the internet. Why does this law need to exist outside of those existing methods? Well, that would be to force Google to do the job of the courts in the EU, of course.

        Personally, I wouldn't have a problem if all these instances were adjudicated by a court first, and Google was handed a list of "when a user searches for this, this specific link should be omitted" rather than the cop out "Google has to look at each request and decide what fits" BS.

      • To be fair the idea is for results that are libelous or potentially (legally) damaging to a person to be removed

        To be fair, libel laws have been around for centuries, why is google now being expected to preempt a decision that should be made by a court?

        Google seems to be pushing the envelope on what they are removing to provoke resistance

        Of course they are, rule #1 if you don't want the job then make a dogs breakfast of the whole thing. This "self censorship" push by the EU is a gigantic burden on ALL search companies. If I were in google's shoes I'd wouldn't even bother reading the complaints, I'd automatically unlink the site and very loudly proclaim I cannot be expected to adjudicate on all of Europ

    • There are a lot of europeans on reddit and slashdot who heartily defend this law.

      • Yeah, I also noticed that. It surprised me how many Europeans were actually defending censorship. Are they surprised that censorship ends poorly?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The idea that you should be able to publish anything you want anywhere (you own) is a peculiarly American idea. It's probably because the US was founded by businessmen who understand that it's far more subtle to buy out the presses, lie a lot and simply drown out dissenting speech (until it gets slightly too loud for comfort - then you bring the guns in) than it is to simply say, "No, you can't spread bullshit."

          This is why people can call for suffering for blacks and gays until the end of days and pay for d

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The American concept of Free Speech is a recent invention, stemming from a long series of Supreme Court decisions beginning in the 1920s. In the 18th and 19th centuries American governments regularly passed laws restricting speech in the name of security and keeping the peace.

            For example, when the Alien & Sedition Acts were passed, while Democrats like Thomas Jefferson were vehemently opposed, nobody would have thought to argue it unconstitutional on Free Speech grounds. They used every argument in the

            • by russotto (537200) on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:41PM (#47386045) Journal

              For example, when the Alien & Sedition Acts were passed, while Democrats like Thomas Jefferson were vehemently opposed, nobody would have thought to argue it unconstitutional on Free Speech grounds.

              Democratic-Republicans -- usually called Republicans -- if you please. Jefferson's party is the parent of both parties today, though he'd hardly recognize either. And of course they were argued as unconstitutional on free speech grounds. See the third Kentucky Resolution.

              • Democratic-Republicans -- usually called Republicans -- if you please. Jefferson's party is the parent of both parties today, though he'd hardly recognize either.

                Not quite. Yes, the Democratic-Republicans were generally referred to as simply "Republicans," but they have no direct relationship to modern Republicans at all. The Democratic-Republicans eventually split into the Democrats and the Whig Party (anti-Jacksonians) in the 1830s. In the 1850s, a new party -- who took up the defunct "Republican" name, aka the Grand Old Party (GOP) -- emerged and supplanted the Whigs. Since this new party emerged from a coalition of various fragmented parties after the Whigs

          • by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday July 04, 2014 @09:12PM (#47386319) Journal

            It's probably because the US was founded by businessmen

            You do realise that the Magna Carta was forced upon the crown by wealthy mearchants, right?

            Yes, Europe puts more restrictions on the fourth estate, they did after all have some serious propaganda problems with Germany in the 1930's leading to everyone pulling out their guns in the 1940's. The right to free speech is enshrined in the UN declaration of HR which almost all nations are party to but none actually implement in full.

            European restrictions are traditionally enforced by libel and deformation actions in court. Outsourcing the decisions to google is being sold to people as a "right", in the same way that "keeping the peace" has already been sold to American's as the right to bear arms. Few people actual buy a gun to kill a specific person but most American's think that maybe one day I will need it. Well, it's the same behaviour here with Europeans, they figure that maybe, one day, they will do something that they want the internet to forget. Call it a "right" and suddenly they will defend it to their last breath.

            Ironic how this issue leads to a discussion about just how powerful language can be in persuading humans to vote against their own self-interest, no? We are all susceptible to this behaviour to some degree, and if your arrogant enough to believe it can't happen to you, you're probably already serving in an army of "useful idiots".

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Outsourcing the decisions to google is being sold to people as a "right"

              Actually this isn't the "right to be forgotten" at all, the press just started calling it that because they were confused. The original right to be forgotten was only concerned with data you yourself provided. In other words you can ask for your Facebook account to be deleted, and it really must be completely deleted and not just made dormant.

              The current issue with Google is actually based on data protection rules dating back to 1995. Google gathers information on individuals without their explicit permissi

        • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:35PM (#47385759) Homepage
          How can Europeans know that censorship ends poorly when nobody's allowed to tell them about it?
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's because we have a different idea of what freedom is.

          To us the idea that if you make it mistake it will be held against you forever and knowledge of it made available to everyone indefinitely doesn't sound like freedom. I understand that in the US once you get say a criminal record or have financial problems they never go away completely and will be noted by every employer and financial institution you deal with for the rest of your life. Essentially your life is blighted and you can never be rehabilita

          • So to you freedom is telling other people what they can and can't say and what public information they can and can't access because the truth could be abused? From where I'm standing it looks like you're trying to tell me that censorship is freedom, and it sounds more than a little Orwellian to me.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              So to you freedom is telling other people what they can and can't say and what public information they can and can't access because the truth could be abused?

              No. Let's be absolutely clear here. No-one is required to actually forget this stuff, and no-one is prevented from talking about it or publishing more articles on the subject. All that is required is that a commercial company like Google respond to requests to remove the links from data they provide when searching for the individual's name. They can keep the data on file and return it for other search terms. The site hosting the article is not required to remove it. The criteria for removal are quite narrow

              • Corporate issues have no bearing on this. Newspapers, radio stations, and television stations are also for profit entities but forcing them to remove articles or broadcasts is also censorship, or does their corporate nature make them fair game too? This is actively obfuscating public information to censor it.

        • Everytime you remind them of examples, they mutter something about Godwin.

      • It may surprise you to know that European's are people too - offer them a "right" they will take it and defend it, just like American's do with their handguns. And yes, this is state enforced self censorship, there are enough legal avenues to redress victims of libel and deformation. Sure they are imperfect even after centuries of case law but outsourcing the decision to google is certainly not the "gift" that many people think it is.
        • by kthreadd (1558445)

          I just want to point out, *everyone* does not like this law; just like *everyone* does not like handguns.

  • say, in the US? If not, it's time to escalate this to the President, whose job is to defend American rights against all assaults, including the combined European Union.

    • Ahehe heheh eh ahah AHAHAHAHAH. In other languages, jajajajajaja loloololol xaxaxaxaxaxa, or orc, kekekekekekeke.

    • by Alphager (957739)
      Which one of your rights is assaulted when Google, a private enterprise, decides to not show you certain links?
      • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:52PM (#47385357)
        Which rights of yours are being assaulted when politicians and 1%ers use Google privacy requests to snuff true information and private dissent under the guise of "privacy".

        One man's right to "privacy" is another man's right to control your information.

        My "right" to privacy can be used to conceal fraud, criminal activity, bad press and do it with the brute force of government on my side.

        And the brute force of government is the power to make you poor, to have you arrested, to put you in jail if you do not comply.
      • Google isnt deciding to, theyre being legally obligated to. Its not our rights, but theirs, and the danger to free speech when that is permitted.

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          No they are not. Google is deciding to do things that no law required them to. END OF STORY. Remember there is no new law here, the original case was about a specific Spanish law. Does that spanish law require taking down unrelated UK links? No!!

      • Which one of your rights is assaulted when Google, a private enterprise, decides to not show you certain links?

        Is Google one of the country's owners? Do they pull the strings of any of our lawmakers in D.C., lawmakers that were hired (aka voted in) by the citizens of this country? If they are controlling lawmakers, like other highly influential corporations do, then they should be considered to be acting on behalf of the government and the people that the government is supposed to serve. And thus, they should be required to observe and submit to the same safeguards and restrictions outlined in the Bill of Rights

  • When I first heard about the "Right to be forgotten" I thought nice now how are they going to remove people's ability to remember ? More importantly just how many winston smiths will they need to turn things into un events because someone doesn't want to live with their actions ?

    • by paiute (550198)

      how are they going to remove people's ability to remember ?

      Folks, if you would just look right here for a moment. FLASH! What you just saw was the light of swamp gas reflecting off of the planet Venus.

  • by brix (27642) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:53PM (#47385361)

    Aren't many of the news organizations in the EU the same ones that wanted to charge Google a licensee to link to their articles in the first place?

    They're upset when Google links to their articles; they're upset when they don't ...

  • by biodata (1981610) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:56PM (#47385377)
    The Preston case was particularly pernicious - a whole article disappears from search results just because one person adds a comment to the article then decides to 'retract' their comment because 'it is not relevant any more'. It would have introduced a very easy attack route for anyone to take down any article they didn't like by posting a comment then asking Google to retract it thus hiding the whole article.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google did not hide the whole article. The article will no longer be returned when users search for the name of the *commenter*. Searches using Preston's name should still link to the full article unless Preston was the one that requested that it be removed from the index for queries on his name. Similarly, searches based on the content of the article that do not include any of the "forgotten" names will still link to the article.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      a whole article disappears from search results just because one person adds a comment

      No, it was NEVER removed from the search results for anything other than a search on the requester's name. Searching for the subject of the article or anything else related to it still brought it up.

      In other words a person can only affect results for their own name, not anything else.

    • This is why Slashdot is retractable by TeamTaco, but not by the submitter. When you post, it's on the record, but it can be pulled by somebody else if things are done right.

    • "stan o'neil" site:bbc.co.uk returns the article. This is all hysterical bullshit.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday July 04, 2014 @04:56PM (#47385381) Journal
    Google really does occupy both an enviable and a pitiable niche as regards the war on censorship / copyright / privacy.

    On the one hand, they constantly get orders to remove search results that the likes of DuckDuckGo never need to deal with.

    On the other, when they actually do remove links, they almost uniquely have the power to make the asker instantly regret the request... Whether through the "Streisand" effect, or in the present case, by "innocently" applying the demand in an overly-broad manner, Google comes out smelling like roses while those who would silence them become the next internet pariahs-of-the-week.

    Truly beautiful! And for a change (though I in no way mean to claim Google as any sort of White Knight), this effect works largely in favor of the public.
  • Google's takedown request policy is...

    1. Oops, we weren't expecting that... gotta unplug the service.
    2. Okay, service is back but we're missing everything anybody asked be removed.
    3. Oops, some of this stuff got removed right because there was something wrong in the request, we shouldn't have followed "all requests".
    4. Now it works... and anybody who sues gets told "You should have gone to this URL to do that!"

  • How long until someone makes a website specifically to track what stuff who wanted forgotten? I, for one, would be interested to know if my potential employee thinks he can call take-backs on the internet.

  • that people find any kind of censorship acceptable. Savages, all of them.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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