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

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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  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:50AM (#47135633)

    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.

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

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @10:52AM (#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.

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

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @11:43AM (#47135889)

    europe is not 'stupid'. its US that are stupid.

    they lead us, head and shoulders, in privacy. only a fool would criticize privacy.

    the internet does not trump the thousands of years of social morals and standards.

    "just because you can, does not mean you SHOULD"

    too much info is already there online. I'm all in favor of reeling a lot of it back, when it comes to ruining an innocent person's life. yes, we SHOULD think about mutual respect and not just say 'once its out there, its out there'. that's a cop-out and many people in the world are tired of that childish attitude.

    I applaud europe for thinking about how society should work, not just letting the googles of the world dictate the 'new normal' to us.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:09PM (#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 Bite The Pillow ( 3087109 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:27PM (#47136573)

    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.

    "Pedophile" covers a range of people from passively being infatuated with young people, to collecting pictures of them naked, pictures of them in sexual positions, pictures engaged in sex, falling in love with them in real life, having sex with them, and taking pictures of themselves having sex with young people. Videos could be involved too obviously.

    When a "pedophile" is arrested and news happens, it is usually because they were on the far end of the list. Rarely, a "pedophile ring" is busted which contains sexual images, which is usually reported with a count of pictures of children engaged in sex acts. I have never seen a "pedophile ring" busted where the only offense was being attracted to children, which is the definition of the word.

    When you say pedophile, you could mean anyone across this spectrum of child love. But most people don't mean that. They mean someone who hasn't had the opportunity to move further towards raping 3 year olds. Someone with 3 images of a 14 year old naked should have a different description to differentiate from the 3 year old raper, but they are both sex offenders and pedophiles to the news and to the general public.

    And it is all because of the same reason. We are not comfortable admitting that a man can find a 17.9 year old sexually interesting, and that it is normal and healthy, despite being 37 days away from being legally sexually attractive. And we can't talk about ephebophilia, which is sexual interest in girls who are physically mature but (maybe) not mentally so, and certainly not legally. No one can broach this subject without risking the label "pedophile", which by definition is not correct.

    It is such a hot button topic that we can't even state facts, such as the definitions of words, or attempt to distinguish among the many levels of "wrong" involved. Note, I'm not suggesting in any way that ephebophiles be given leniency, I'm just pointing out that the two philias are different, yet treated with the same level of hate. And again, it's because it is a hot topic, and we can't even say the words without someone essentially saying "make it stop" - by which they mean stop talking about it, make it illegal, throw those people in a dungeon, you're making me uncomfortable.

    To your argument here, pedophiles are both worse than, and not as bad as, rapists and murderers et al, because they could be anywhere on the spectrum and still qualify as a pedophile. If you develop the trust of a child and have sex with that child, it could be way more damaging than a random one-time attack by a stranger. Night after night, associating certain sounds or words or smells with being raped and not understanding why you don't like it when someone loves you - this can ruin the entire social interaction for life without years of intensive therapy, and even then not completely go away.

    As someone infatuated with, or collecting pictures of, young people, they are certainly not as bad as rapists or murderers. When they cross the line to taking pictures, it kinda depends. I'm going to say there are probably exceptions, but crossing the next line to having sexual interactions is almost always going to be worse than "regular" rape. On a value scale, leaving someone alive but scarred is better than ending their life completely, but people will give a lighter sentence to the killer of a drug kingpin compared with a child rapist. Why? Because children are innocent and pure, and that goes way deeper than mental comprehension. It is a gut reaction that

  • Re:All I'll say... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @01:36PM (#47136649) Homepage

    "Just because you *can* [make an ill-informed comment full of hackneyed phrases], does not mean you *should*."

    For example, only a cretin would think that "privacy" means just one thing, and that an argument about one kind of privacy necessarily applies to other kinds of privacy. As a case in point, European data retention laws (pursuant to an EU directive) mean the governments there can snoop on citizens practically as much as they like. The governments regulate what companies can keep and share, but that's not the most important kind of privacy. Mostly Europe thinks society should work according to its government elites, and they want to keep a monopoly on knowledge and political power. People in the US disagree that the government should have a monopoly in those things.

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

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Saturday May 31, 2014 @03:38PM (#47137283)

    I agree that the US justice system is too quick to arrest and prosecute people, and that many things are wrongly defined as crimes. If you want to fix that, then fix it

    Yes, I agree it would be great to "fix it." But even if we stop a significant percentage of bad arrests and prosecutions, police are never going to be 100% sure when they have to arrest someone in a situation where there's a apparently significant safety threat. And prosecutors are never going to be 100% certain they'll get a guilty plea. Even if we don't arrest people for stupid laws, we'll still have errors and abuses of power.

    So, even if we do the reform you suggest, we just reduce the frequency of the problem, but still have people whose names and reputations are ruined unnecessarily. You're never going to get a perfect system.

    And as long as you have a free press, you'll have sensationalist journalism that's going to unfairly present those who have been arrested or accused. As far as I can tell, we have a few options:

    (1) Attempt something like this "right to be forgotten" (which, by the way, I don't really think will work well)
    (2) Have secret police and court proceedings (not good for anyone -- will lead to more abuse rather than less)
    (3) Severely restrict freedom of the press and publishing information about people arrested or accused (not good for general freedom, also likely to lead to abuse)
    (4) Force news media to run equivalent levels of coverage refuting their accusations when charges are dropped or someone is acquitted (never gonna happen, and nobody will pay attention anyway)
    (5) Actively begin investigating and prosecuting people who are suspected of discriminating against those who have had a "run in with the law" but were never convicted or charged (again, unlikely to happen)

    I'm open to other ideas. These all sound pretty impossible to me, and some sound stupid. But perhaps trying to let someone who was never charged or convicted of a crime to attempt to ensure that news stories about an erroneous arrest aren't the top search engine link is one small concession, and probably the least worrisome as a threat to other freedoms. I don't know.

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