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Pedophile Asks To Be Deleted From Google Search After European Court Ruling 370

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jane Wakefield reports at BBC that a man convicted of possessing child abuse images is among the first to request Google remove links links to pages about his conviction after a European court ruled that an individual could force it to remove 'irrelevant and outdated' search results. Other takedown requests since the ruling include an ex-politician seeking re-election who has asked to have links to an article about his behaviour in office removed and a doctor who wants negative reviews from patients removed from google search results. Google itself has not commented on the so-called right-to-be-forgotten ruling since it described the European Court of Justice judgement as being 'disappointing'. Marc Dautlich, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, says that search engines might find the new rules hard to implement. 'If they get an appreciable volume of requests what are they going to do? Set up an entire industry sifting through the paperwork?' says Dautlich. 'I can't say what they will do but if I was them I would say no and tell the individual to contact the Information Commissioner's Office.' The court said in its ruling that people could request the removal of data related to them that seem to be 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.'"
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Pedophile Asks To Be Deleted From Google Search After European Court Ruling

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  • I beg to differ. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:05AM (#47016337)
    I don't see how a conviction for possessing child porn is irrelevant or outdated. So I don't like his chances.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:10AM (#47016365)

    We do have a right to be forgotten online, imho. We do NOT have a right to have specific things we don't want other people to know about us "forgotten" while the things we agree with remains. Seems to me, all of these examples are people who want certain specific negative things removed instead of wanting all online records of their existence completely obliterated.

  • Disaster! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:12AM (#47016375) Homepage

    This court decision has opened the floodgates. The ramifications threaten the entire, open Internet. Search machines can be prohibited from linking to publicly available material, and be taken to court for doing so. From there, it is a very small step to prohibiting anyone from linking to publicly available material that someone, somewhere finds distasteful or undesirable.

    The court has demonstrated incredible ignorance. This decision is a disaster.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:20AM (#47016439)

    If we're talking about clearing someone's meta data from the system that might be reasonable. But taking down articles people have written about you or blog posts... no. You don't have a right to silence other people.

    That would be the 21st century version of a book burning.

  • Why Google? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:31AM (#47016505) Homepage

    I still fail to follow the court's logic.

    Google isn't *publishing* information, it's just indexing information (web page) already available elsewhere (on 3rd-party webservers).

    If the businessman doesn't like being associated with his previous bankruptcy, he should ask the *website of the newspaper* to remove the article about the bankruptcy. Not ask google to stop indexing it.

    - If he stops Google. Bing and any other search engine would still be indexing it. And the original article is still outthere. It's a completely ineffective measure.
    - If he stops the newspaper, the information will indeed be definitely disappearing. On the next crawl, Google's, Bing's and anyone else's spider will notice the page doesn't exist anymore and will stop displaying it in search result. The article would only be accessible in things like

    It seems like the judge in that case don't understand that much the functioning of search engines and the implication of the ruling.

    On the other hand, I understand why the businessman went after google:
    - trying to remove an article basically amounts to censorship. That's a big taboo (not as much here in EU as in US, but still the case as there are no hate-speech in this suit) and the businessman was probably going to lose
    - trying to attack google, looks like going after the big giant with pervasive snooping and privacy-problems. Much likely to win.

  • Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:40AM (#47016551) Homepage

    Not quite true. The case that generated this decision concerned factual newspaper articles. The guy went bankrupt, his house was auctioned off, the local newspapers reported on this.

    • The newspaper is not required to delete the articles. They are simple, factual reporting, and are allowed to remain.
    • The court decided that Google is not allowed to link to these articles, because the affected person wants these facts to be unfindable.

    So: it is not private information at all. It is precisely public, factual information about an individual, that that individual finds distasteful.

  • Re:Why Google? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vapula ( 14703 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:48AM (#47016603)

    As long as the page still exists, the index points to relevant information : a web page with the given keywords.
    IMHO, the most important problem is about the "view page in cache" function which could show the information even after the web page has been removed.

  • by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @08:53AM (#47016647)

    We do have a right to be forgotten online, imho.

    I consider myself to value privacy quite a bit but I really don't understand where this line of thinking comes from. Do you believe you have a right to be forgotten in real life? If so, how would you enforce it? If not, then why do you believe the online world should behave differently from the real world?

  • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @09:00AM (#47016705)

    Why does it say that google hasn't commented?

    It has. It told the press about these cherry-picked examples. Straight from the PR textbook.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @09:00AM (#47016709) Homepage

    I wonder if this could also affect any site with an internal search engine. Suppose you grab WordPress and throw up a quick blog. You're posting away and wind up posting a negative piece about a politician who got in some sort of scandal. (We'll assume that you stick to proven facts and stay clear of any unproven allegations.) That post goes viral and tons of people link to it. Could the politician order your to remove the article from your site's Wordpress-powered search? Since that would be impossible for a normal user (for the sake of argument, assume you aren't very technically inclined in this manner), wouldn't complying with that essentially be taking the post down? And if you refused, would you, an average user, be able to afford going to court to defend your right to post the truth?

    This is going to wind up chilling speech with people taking down truthful articles that people who have committed crimes find "embarrassing" or "uncomfortable."

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @09:03AM (#47016735) Homepage

    There problem then becomes the flood of lawsuits. Google can handle one lawsuit, no problem. Two or three? Sure. But what happens when a thousand people are suing them over a thousand different links appears throughout their search results? Can they defend against a thousand cases at once? What about ten thousand? A hundred thousand? Can the courts handle this flood as well? Google will either have to wind up settling each case, caving in to each request, or fighting a war on a thousand fronts. And if they do the first two then people will learn that they can file a lawsuit and get what they want from Google. This will open the floodgates even more.

  • by Vinegar Joe ( 998110 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @09:50AM (#47017119)

    Thats their own problem. If they want to do business in europe, they have to respect european laws. They are free to close services there.

    If Google were a European company the European court would have thrown the case out.

  • by mjtaylor24601 ( 820998 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @10:04AM (#47017231)

    Thats their own problem. If they want to do business in europe, they have to respect european laws. They are free to close services there.

    The phrase "be careful what you wish for" comes to mind.

    Remember that this ruling will apply to every search engine or other public index. Does anyone in Europe really want them all to just pull out of Europe because the European legal system makes it impractical to do business there?

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @10:08AM (#47017263)
    News articles stating why he's on the list are certainly not relavent. Information on List 99 is only for the purposes of Enhanced checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service, only performed when you apply for a job where you will be in frequent, unsupervised contact with minors. I have such a check performed because of where I work.

    There's no reason for the lay public to know who's on the list, though, because there are other regulations for public interactions, e.g. restraining orders, other impositions on living / frequenting places within X yards of a school etc. The only, only reason you would have to disagree with the details of someone, who has paid for their crime via the criminal justice system, to not having their details removed is because you believe they haven't suffered enough. Well, tough; The courts decided they've done their time, and now they're free to do as they please. They may be on List 99, they may not; If they are, they will fail to get employment anywhere near children, and that IMHO is enough. If this guy was really such a menace to society, he'd still be segragated from it.

    There. I stuck up for the rights of a deviant. Let the hate commence.
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @10:51AM (#47017653) Homepage

    The reality is, if a court can not take down the website providing the information, they have no right to take down a search result pointing to that legal web site, that is a straight up freedom of speech challenge and attempt by courts to purposefully illegal silence people, the intent is criminal as they are not targeting the website providing the actual information as being false or untruthful.

    The only legal and fair challenge with regard web site searches is does it reflect the intent of the end user and providing the sites they are searching for and is not fraudulently misdirecting the user away from the sites they are searching for and ensuring it is what is claims to be.

    To claim that the truth should be forgotten is to absurdly claim ignorance is to be valued over the truth.

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Friday May 16, 2014 @11:03AM (#47017749)

    Actually, I think lists like these are over-used. Got drunk, took a piss in a dark alleyway and someone saw you? Cite them for public intoxication sure, but that doesn't qualify for sex offender status. An 18-year old is dating a 16 year old and the 16 year old's parents don't like him and report him? Shouldn't be a sex offender. A 15 year old gets caught with naked pictures of herself on her phone and gets charged as an adult with child porn(this one is always my favorite-if they are an adult then it can't be child porn, if it is child porn then they can't be an adult), shouldn't be on a list. Drawings of naked kids? Disgusting, but not really a sexual offense to me (possession of actual photographs or video should be as that involves harm to an actual person when it is created). Serial offenders, those whose actions have been shown to actually harm a living victim, those I have no problem being on a list, and their crimes should remain a matter of public record and be searchable by the public.

    And in a perfect world, if someone is bad enough that they should be on a list and can't be around kids because they might reoffend, should they really be back in society to begin with? It seems they would be better off in a mental institution where they can receive treatment and remain segregated from society until such time as they are fit to reenter.

  • by c ( 8461 ) <> on Friday May 16, 2014 @12:01PM (#47018179)

    ... but that doesn't mean their lives should be ruined simply for some relatively minor past mistakes.

    I agree, and that's essentially part of my point, but is this really the fault of the search engines, or is it the "no forgiveness" attitude of employers (and a whole host of others that are in a position to make major decisions that massively affect someone's life) that's the fundamental problem?

    It's not just a criminal background problem, either. People are looking at stuff like Facebook photos of someone partying, or political affiliations, etc, and making decisions about employability.

    This isn't anything really new, it's just easier to dig up dirt on someone, it's possible to do it on a wider scale, and the results tend to be more authoritative. But there's always been the concept of a "permanent record". That's where expressions like "reference checks", "background checks", "not burning your bridges", "skeletons in the closet", etc came from.

    Having Google take down information isn't going to make that information go away; if anything it's creating a business case for a "reputation search engine" to set up shop in a jurisdiction which wouldn't allow this sort of thing.

    It's a huge can of worms.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."