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Google EU Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

Google Scours 1.2 Million URLs To Conform With EU's "Right To Be Forgotten" Law (engadget.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Google report the company has evaluated 1,234,092 URLs from 348,085 requests since the EU's May 2014 "right to be forgotten" ruling, and has removed 42% of those URLs. Engadget reports: "To show how it comes to its decisions, the company shared some of the requests it received and its decisions. For example: a private citizen that was convicted of a serious crime, but had that conviction overturned during appeal, had search results about the crime removed. Meanwhile a high ranking public official in Hungary failed to get the results squelched of a decades-old criminal conviction. Of course, that doesn't mean the system is perfect and the company has already been accused of making mistakes."
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Google Scours 1.2 Million URLs To Conform With EU's "Right To Be Forgotten" Law

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  • by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Thursday November 26, 2015 @09:24AM (#51007749)

    It could be said that at least they're trying. I doubt any system that has to make such judgement calls will ever be perfect.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Judgement calls are by definition imperfect.

      The mentioned judgement calls seem fair to me, but lets see how people will disagree in 3... 2... 1...

    • It could be said that at least they're trying. I doubt any system that has to make such judgement calls will ever be perfect.

      When such a system becomes perfect, then it's time to get rid of our judges and leaders. We can also resign as human beings and just live out our lives plugged into the Matrix.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Technically it is possible to create a system for perfect judgement calls. This law is based around the concept of, 'what the general public feels reasonable', as such to be in affect perfect, it needs to be put to the general public for their opinion. So every right to be forgotten claim, should be put to the public to vote on and when sufficient votes are accrued to remove it, it disappears, this would also take into account contrary votes from members of the public who feel it should remain being deduct

    • It could also be said that censorship always turns out poorly.
  • One of the Tolkien's core beliefs, and a central pillar of his LotRs trilogy, is he abhorrence of tyranny. But one thing he maintained, and showed off a little with the struggle of the good guys from harassing the power of the Ring, is that Tyranny is always bad, but it is worse if the all powerful ruler actually cares about their subjects. A uncaring, self obsessed, ruler will at least give you enough lease to pursue your life as you see fit when it does not interferer with their ambitions. While a caring

  • The entire process involves human evaluation and a subjective analysis. There are no mistakes, only disagreements with the decisions made.

    (I am not talking about "oops, wrong button!" kind of mistakes, and I assume the article isn't either.)

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      There are actually long established laws governing this stuff. The ruling was based on data protection rules going back to the mid 90s, it's just that until then search engines had argued they were exempt but the court disagreed. This is simply applying the law, and if there are disagreements each member state will have a regulator (the ICO in the UK) who can adjudicate.

      The law seems to be working as intended, from the examples given by Google.

      • There are actually long established laws governing this stuff. The ruling was based on data protection rules going back to the mid 90s, it's just that until then search engines had argued they were exempt but the court disagreed.

        Nice theory, but unfortunately wrong. The "right to be forgotten" applies to search engines indexing public data sources; the original sources frequently continue to be online, and quite legally so.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Data protection rules cover companies storing information about individuals. That includes search engines, because the pages they index include information about individuals. Otherwise how would they return any results when you typed in someone's name?

          • Re:Mistakes? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Thursday November 26, 2015 @01:00PM (#51008671)

            You're basically saying that data protection rules about "storing information about individual" should be consistent for both search engines and other content providers. I agree. My point is: under "the right to be forgotten", the rules are not consistent.

            If the rules were consistent, people whose privacy was violated would simply go to the original publisher who put that information online to get it removed; Google wouldn't have to get involved. But under current rules, the original publisher can continue providing that information, it's just that search engines can't show it.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              The rules are entirely consistent. They state that companies are only allowed to hold and provide personal information if they have a need to do so. What is allowed is defined. Reporting things like spent convictions or that someone was raped long ago has been ruled by the court to be outside that definition.

              • They state that companies are only allowed to hold and provide personal information if they have a need to do so. What is allowed is defined. Reporting things like spent convictions or that someone was raped long ago has been ruled by the court to be outside that definition.

                First, you're confusing privacy legislation and "the right to be forgotten": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

                The right to be forgotten is distinct from the right to privacy, due to the distinction that the right to privacy constitutes i

                • I think the main reason for the law was 'Reasonable effort'. You 'Could' check each council's offices for information, but most people would not. Google made it 'too easy' to dig up old shit that doesn't matter any more.
                  • You 'Could' check each council's offices for information

                    Newspaper archives can retain the information, as can commercial, for-pay search services and government archives. So, politicians, journalists, corporations, and anybody with enough money can still get the information; it's just that regular folks can't.

                    Google made it 'too easy' to dig up old shit that doesn't matter any more.

                    A lot of this "shit" does matter.

                    In any case, while Google, as a multi-national, has to comply, rest assured that Americans wil

  • Why should we allow any foreign laws to have effects upon people in the US? If I wish to hire or associate with another person why should I not be able to dredge up their life history? Recently a nursing home was pushed by an advocate to hire a woman from a halfway house. I know that she may not have been a criminal, but she did have addictions to alcohol or some other substances. Her motive for taking the job was very likely to steal medications from the elderly. She only worked two nights
    • > Recently a nursing home was pushed by an advocate to hire a woman from a halfway house.

      That's a problem. Nursing facilities are _desperate_ for staff as the baby boomers are retiring or getting more medical issues as they age. The pay in many facilities is very low and good staff tend to burn out very quickly.

      > Without being able to get a detailed history of the applicant

      That's what references are for. If the HR person cannot be bothered to look anywhere but online, then there is a very different pr

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Her motive for taking the job was very likely to steal medications from the elderly.

      In the US now, there is an entire segment of the population who believes you should have no right to judge her based on her life history now.

      You would be considered a "bigot", "racist", "xenophobe", "misogynist" for wishing to discriminate based on such factors as life history.

      This is what's driving the right to be forgotten..... also, before too long, it will also be illegal to discriminate in hiring/retaining

      • It's important to be able to forget in many cases however, so that every sentence doesn't become a life sentence. Justice should be about rehabilitation as well. Obviously if a person represents an ongoing problem, affected parties should be able to check that.
      • And nothing of value will be lost.

        Okay, actually I do think there should be some exceptions, but there should be legally sanctioned means to obtain the informations for those cases, and only those cases.

  • Google would have not a problem if it did not have assets in Europe. Protected by the Speech act [wikipedia.org], it could shoot Europe the big finger.

    I think that in the long run international search engines can not last.

  • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Thursday November 26, 2015 @11:11AM (#51008127) Homepage

    Please add scare quotes to "law" too, because there is no such law, and never has been. It was a ruling, a ruling stating local national laws also apply to Google evne if the local laws are stupid, but it there was never any EU laws involved.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Thursday November 26, 2015 @11:39AM (#51008247) Homepage

      The national laws implement Directive 95/46/EC on data protection. This directive was adopted by the EU, meaning that each member state is required to implement it in that state's laws.

      The recent ruling was an interpretation of the directive, confirming that it does apply to Google, or rather that the national laws based on the directive apply to Google. Those national laws include things like Google being required to register with national regulators and abide by their rulings in the case of disputes.

      More generally, the EU never makes laws, only directives, so you are correct in so far as there are no EU laws at all.

      The directive and its implementations are not stupid, it's just that Europeans care more about their privacy and view it as a basic right, in the same way that Americans view free speech and gun ownership as a basic right. Rights don't have to be mutually exclusive, and even in the US they are often balanced against each other by courts.

      • The national laws implement Directive 95/46/EC on data protection.

        What does that have to do with what is being referred to as "the right to be forgotten"? The original case was about a specific spanish law that requires that you can't be registered as having been through a bankrupcy after a certain amount of years. Other cases that has caused Google to remove material are similar country-specific laws, like laws that they can't list them as criminals after a certain amount of years after serving time. Google requires you to specify which law in which country you are refer

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Thursday November 26, 2015 @11:16AM (#51008145) Homepage Journal
    Do newspapers also need to censor their old microfiche and archived paper copies, and also go door to door destroying any old copies that people or businesses may have laying around, and to the dump as well? If not, then why just pick on google, and not all other forms of media? Also, they should probably destroy the memories of human beings that remember the accusations coming out on the news.
    • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Thursday November 26, 2015 @12:21PM (#51008445)

      Do newspapers also need to censor their old microfiche and archived paper copies

      No. They don't even generally have to remove their online content.

      If not, then why just pick on google, and not all other forms of media?

      Because Google is a big American company that is hurting European publishers and media companies. So, European publishers and media companies lobbied their legislators, riled up voters with editorials and "reporting", and the rest is history.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Of course not. Newspapers on microfiche or in private individual's possession are not instantly searchable from your computer or mobile device. They do not offer a "give us a name, we will research it and give you information about that individual" service. Such services have been regulated for a long, long time now.

      If Google was only as good as microfiche it wouldn't be very popular.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Christ, is there text microfiche out there that hasn't been digitized into plain text out there still? you'd think that'd be one of the fastest and easiest mediums to digitize.

  • I am from the EU, and I have severe problems accepting a "right to be forgotten". It basically forces Google (and other search engines) to lie, to knowingly hand out false information. There is a major difference between forgetting things and keeping silent about them. Everyone who scours old information should be aware that with time, the relevance of information often fades. And that is the problem: it *OFTEN* fades, but not always. Some information remains relevant over long periods of time.

  • Once the infrastructure is in place for the 'right to be forgotten', it will become much easier to create 'Unpersons'. Orwellianisms bathed in faux Human Rights?

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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