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Google Appeals French Order For Global 'Right To Be Forgotten' (reuters.com) 170

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Alphabet Inc's Google appealed on Thursday an order from the French data protection authority to remove certain web search results globally in response to a European privacy ruling, escalating a fight on the extra-territorial reach of EU law. In May 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft's Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people's names -- dubbed the "right to be forgotten." Google complied, but it only scrubbed results across its European websites such as Google.de in Germany and Google.fr in France, arguing that to do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent on the territorial reach of national laws. The French regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), fined Google 100,000 euros ($112,150.00) in March for not delisting more widely, arguing that was the only way to uphold Europeans' right to privacy. The company filed its appeal of the CNIL's order with France's supreme administrative court, the Council of State. "One nation does not make laws for another," said Dave Price, senior product counsel, Google. "Data protection law, in France and around Europe, is explicitly territorial, that is limited to the territory of the country whose law is being applied." Google's Transparency Report indicates the company accepts around 40 percent of requests for the removal of links appearing under search results for people's names.
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Google Appeals French Order For Global 'Right To Be Forgotten'

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  • US disagrees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2016 @02:08AM (#52147075)
    interestingly the country google is from completely disagrees with googles stance as they regularly make laws and rulings around data beyond its borders
    • interestingly the country google is from completely disagrees with googles stance as they regularly make laws and rulings around data beyond its borders

      Cite?

      From what I've seen, the US frequently throws its diplomatic weight around and expects other countries to comply with its wishes, but I've never seen any expectation that US law applies outside of its borders, with respect to data or anything else. I'd be very interested to see examples where that's not true.

      • http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/03/15/more-foreigners-find-themselves-targets-of-us-copyright-law/

        • http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/03/15/more-foreigners-find-themselves-targets-of-us-copyright-law/

          Read the article. The application of US law was based on activities performed in the US. The people weren't in the US, but the servers were.

    • interestingly the country google is from completely disagrees with googles stance as they regularly make laws and rulings around data beyond its borders

      And in this case the US government is wrong, not Google.

    • interestingly the country google is from completely disagrees with googles stance as they regularly make laws and rulings around data beyond its borders

      Google is not the U.S. Government, and your statement is an irrelevant strawman. Google is correct (logically, morally, and practically) that a country's laws cannot extend beyond its territories.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It seems like countries are increasingly demanding that corporations follow their laws globally. It's inevitable that we'll increasingly have laws in two countries that are mutually exclusive, but those countries will want their laws followed globally. A corporation doing business in those two countries has no choice but to either leave at least one country or break the law in at least one of the countries. What do you do in that situation?

    The "right to be forgotten" involves the removal of personal informa

    • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @04:58AM (#52147479)

      > However, what happens if a French citizen requests they be forgotten by Google while US investigators are looking into that same person on suspicion of terrorism and have a court order demanding preservation of the data?

      No problem. There is nothing in the right to be forgotten that requires Google to delete data, it only needs to delete the data PUBLICLY. Remove it from search results, nobody will check if they deleted the entry from the database or just flagged it for "do not display".

      It's a ridiculously easy problem to solve.

      But it's interesting how your basic assumption begs the question: what the fuck makes you think US investigators have the right to investigate somebody in another country ? He is NOT subject to their authority. Unless he commits a crime IN the US they have no right to be doing that investigation in the first place. If he does, their right ends when he crosses the border and they are supposed to hand the investigation over to Interpol and work with the authorities in the country the person is in now through this interpol. If the person was planning a terrorist attack in another country, then the authority to investigate him lies EXCLUSIVELY with the law enforcement of that country. You bet your ass no sane court would grant a right-to-be-forgotten request if it's opposed by legitimate law enforcement. US investigators do not have the right to investigate non-US citizens who are not currently in the US. We didn't vote for the US government, we get no say in your laws and we are not required to comply with them and your investigators have no right to so much as know our names. We have our OWN investigators thank you very much and we will investigate and prosecute our own criminals.
      No country has yet invited the FBI to come investigate their criminals for them and no country is likely to ever do so. Countries do sometimes invite highly successful investigators from other countries (the FBI is frequently one) to come TRAIN their local investigators and bring some of those skills across, but the authority to USE them belongs to the local government. The US government's authority to do anything ends at your own borders and it's high time Americans figure that out.

      • But it's interesting how your basic assumption begs the question: what the fuck makes you think US investigators have the right to investigate somebody in another country ? He is NOT subject to their authority. Unless he commits a crime IN the US they have no right to be doing that investigation in the first place.

        Of course they do. If they have reason to believe someone abroad has violated US law and did so with a nexus in the US then they are fair game. For example, if someone uses a bank in the US to wire money for illegal purposes then they are subject to US law; even if they never set foot in the US or their bank merely routed the money through a US branch. If a US company or branch of a foreign company based in the US has information of interest to law enforcement, even if the person is not in the US, they are

        • As trainers not active duty. If an FBI agent tries to arrest me in my home country I have every right to use deadly force against him because outside US jurisdiction it is not a legal arrest. It is kidnapping and shooting him is self defense. No sane judge would convict me.

          • As trainers not active duty. If an FBI agent tries to arrest me in my home country I have every right to use deadly force against him because outside US jurisdiction it is not a legal arrest. It is kidnapping and shooting him is self defense. No sane judge would convict me.

            Actually they take part in investigations as well. You are correct that local law enforcement makes the arrest, although technically a US citizen abroad would fall under their jurisdiction based on US law; but it is impractical to actually arrest them unless they stray onto US territory while abroad.

        • What France is doing is no different. They expect Google to obey French law for information they serve up in France, even if the information is located outside of France.

          I have three problems with this statement.

          First of all, Google is complying with the French version of Google (Google.fr) but not the main Google.com. Google.fr serves up automatically if someone from France tries to load Google. So if someone from France goes to the Google.com website, they are purposefully going around the system - poss

          • What France is doing is no different. They expect Google to obey French law for information they serve up in France, even if the information is located outside of France.

            I have three problems with this statement.

            All good points. Mine was, which may have not been clear, is countries attempt to apply their laws extra-territorially and the internet makes it a much more complicated scenario given the ability to easily cross borders without leaving physically.

      • Ummm... no. Each people in France has the right to see its data DELETED from any company database. This is personal data regulation.

    • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      What do you do in that situation?

      Simple. You determine the more profitable market, and remove any and all of your assets from the other country. They can try fining your company, but what good is that if all of your assets are out of their legal reach?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The letter from the authorities to Google that complained about Google not complying with the court order specifically used the example that users in France searching on Google.com instead of Google.fr get a result where the right to be forgotten is not implemented.

    Google is trying to call .com a global only search result, but that is disingenuous, both they and all others already do geo-fencing and geo-tailoring on what is served through a "global" .com domain.

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )

      I posted something similar on previous Slashdot stories, I'm not a believer forcing search engines to censor results but the way Google's done this is artificially structured by TLD. If they want to do business in the EU then they should follow their laws when someone in the EU is accessing Google services regardless of TLD.

      Call me when the EU starts trying to censor results of people searching from Canada.

  • The root of this problem is the death of privacy. Especially amusing as the chief killers of personal privacy are most prominently self-proclaimed "conservatives" trying to conserve the profits of large companies. They profit by treating us a mindless sheep following the carrots of our personal interests and even strengths.

    If our personal information was OUR property, then we should be entitled to store it where WE want to keep it, even if that was a place that the google could not conveniently copy. The le

    • by Zandamesh ( 1689334 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @03:22AM (#52147241)

      Google just links to the information, they don't remove it. Why does none of this responsibility to preserve privacy fall on the shoulders of people who host it in the first place? I'll tell you why, because it's too much of a hassle to go after each of the ones hosting the info, so they go after Google, mainly because it's easier. But the information does not go away, and if people really have an interest about searching about people, alternatives will become available. Especially because technology is constantly improving, how long until every newspaper ever written fits on a single hard disk? This law to censor Google will soon become obsolete but it won't be removed because that would be too much of a hassle as well.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google just links to the information, they don't remove it. Why does none of this responsibility to preserve privacy fall on the shoulders of people who host it in the first place? I'll tell you why, because it's too much of a hassle to go after each of the ones hosting the info, so they go after Google, mainly because it's easier. .

        No this is not why, you haven't understood the purpose and intent of this law at all. It is specifically *not* to remove the original information, in any way or form. But to address the problem that casual searches on Google will forever re-surface old stories about you that should be left to the obscurity of the original stories and not continue to ruin your life when no longer relevant. You can agree or disagree if this is a good purpose, but at least try to understand the purpose before attacking it with

        • "Casual" searches? Is it explicitly mentioned as such, and is a definition given of 'casual'? I highly doubt it. There is no clear line between 'casually' looking it up and 'non-casually' looking it up on google.

          So that point doesn't matter, and thus, it amounts to: "to not show the original info". Period. And then we come to your primary assertion: that it's ok since it doesn't remove it, it only doesn't show it, so you can't find it, at least not with a search-engine.

          Now... for me, and I think I can make

      • Also, those places would include news outlets, which would me a much more obvious hit to freedom of the press. (With Google we can engage in the great doublethink that we aren't censoring the press, we're just making it impossible to find some of the content the press produces.)

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Why does none of this responsibility to preserve privacy fall on the shoulders of people who host it in the first place?

        Actually it does. Any business handling personal data has to abide by data protection rules.

        • Actually it does. Any business handling personal data has to abide by data protection rules.

          Which tells you that the information covered by the "right to be forgotten" is, in fact, not personal data, because otherwise the original site would have to safeguard it.

          by the way I'm a fuckwit

          Yes, you are.

      • Google just links to the information, they don't remove it. Why does none of this responsibility to preserve privacy fall on the shoulders of people who host it in the first place? I'll tell you why, because it's too much of a hassle to go after each of the ones hosting the info, so they go after Google, mainly because it's easier. But the information does not go away, and if people really have an interest about searching about people, alternatives will become available. Especially because technology is constantly improving, how long until every newspaper ever written fits on a single hard disk? This law to censor Google will soon become obsolete but it won't be removed because that would be too much of a hassle as well.

        I think you hit the nail on the head when you pointed out it's easier to go after Google. If they tried to force the sources of the information to remove it they would probably wind up in numerous court fights as well as run afoul of press freedom laws making it impractical to take that course. So the "right to be forgotten" becomes the "right to make it harder to find out."

      • They also go after google because it's the main source of headaches for people with dated/inaccurate/slanderous information out there about them.

        Consider: If you publish a web-site attacking me as the world's biggest jerk, it only really matters if people can find it. It's sort of the same way you can slander someone in the forest and never get sued. Slander is still actionable when spoken in a forest, but since nobody is around to hear it, witness it, and testify in court to the slander, you're pretty much

    • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @08:29AM (#52148203)

      If owning another person's personal information without their permission was a crime

      Google doesn't claim "ownership" over information about you; they simply provide a link to information that is already on the web. The search results will disappear as soon as the original pages disappear. If you have a problem with that, you need to take it up with the people who put the information on the web in the first place, not Google.

      Secondly, the information that is at issue in "right to be forgotten" cases usually isn't "personal" information, it's public information: legal judgments against you, articles others have written about you, etc. You don't own that information and you shouldn't be able to control it, even according to the EU and proponents of the "right to be forgotten", because they don't force the original publishers of that information to take it down.

    • by shanen ( 462549 )

      Apparently none of the direct replies to my comment were based on what what I wrote, so I'm ignoring them, but I feel like I should agree with the person who commented on targeting google as the publicity agent for bad information. My point was the bad information should be the target, not google, even though google is doing plenty of EVIL stuff these days.

      As regards google not having direct 'ownership' of the personal data, that person apparently doesn't know how google works and also ignores the question

  • The consequence of this will probably be that european countries will prohibit exporting data which might fall under its privacy laws, as it won't be able to enforce those laws on data outside its territory. I'd also be somewhat amused if they'd have the idea to "license" the data and revoke the license if the data is used in a way contradicting local laws (i.e. "you don't own the data you gather in this country, we just grant you a license to use it under certain conditions for a potentially limited amount

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dear Google,
    How about you stop hiding behind the laws and your highly paid lawyers and actually do something that's right for a change?
    You know, 'Do no evil'. Yes it was always a bullshit slogan, and you've been doing evil ever since the beginning, but here's your chance to stop acting like a complete asshole and recognise when you've gone to far, whether or not the letter of the law in your favourite jurisdiction says otherwise.
    So, Google, how about you clean up your act, and be the good guys for a change?

    • You know, 'Do no evil'. Yes it was always a bullshit slogan,

      It was never Google's slogan. They had "don't be evil" as an unofficial slogan, but that's subtly different.

    • Re:Open letter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @06:56AM (#52147853)

      What are they doing wrong? They're obeying a local law. France wants its laws to apply outside of their borders. Imagine their reaction if Saudi Arabia demanded that they repeal their ban on face covering in public places.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 20, 2016 @03:13AM (#52147219)

    ...it becomes an American company again?

    I sure wish they took the same view come tax time.

    EU is making laws for Google, not for other countries. If you want to keep operating there, play by their rules.

    • Play by who's rules where? Companies like Google dodge tax all over the world equally, that doesn't magically mean they need to obey only the laws of the country in which they pay tax.

      EU is making laws for Google, not for other countries. If you want to keep operating there, play by their rules.

      EU is making laws full stop. What laws the EU makes should have no effect on an American company doing business in Australia for example.

  • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @04:38AM (#52147417)

    The law is NOT being enforced externally at all. Nobody on the ECJ is going to give Google any grief if they ignore a request by me to be forgotten - I'm not a European citizen and my country does not have such a right.

    But Google has to comply with the laws of the countries it operates in, in so far as it concerns data about people from those countries. By Google's reasoning, if you kidnap somebody and take them to a country where kidnapping is legal - you cannot be prosecuted ? Their right not to be kidnapped dissappeared after you took them to a country that doesn't recognize it ? Of course not. They are still citizens from a country where that is a right - and their government still has a duty to protect that right, even if they are not currently within it's borders.
    I see no reasonable reason why a person's data should be any different.

    • The law is NOT being enforced externally at all.

      Sure it does. The right to be forgotten is done and dusted in European countries. Anyone from Europe who goes to www.google.com will be redirected to their own site like www.google.fr and be given search results that comply with the local laws.

      Now why should that same law apply to someone who gets redirected to www.google.com.au? It's not like the Australians have a right to be forgotten, or the country where Google is headquartered.

      Incidentally your criminal example is part right. People are obliged to obe

      • Anyone from Europe who goes to www.google.com will be redirected to their own site like www.google.fr and be given search results that comply with the local laws.

        Now why should that same law apply to someone who gets redirected to www.google.com.au?

        To play the devil's advocate:

        A child walks into a bar somewhere in the U.S.A. The bartender refuses to sell her alcohol, because she's clearly underage. The child walks to the other end of the bar, which has an Australian flag and promotes Fosters. The bartender there is happy to serve her, because clearly she's no longer subject to the local laws? The kid is still in the same country. Everybody knows it, nobody is fooled because she's standing under a different flag.

        So it is with internet traffic, unless y

        • The Australian flag doesn't mean local laws don't apply, and your example breaks down because a domain name is not all that's separate. Google provides local hosting with local data, local results from local domains.

          To help your contrived example:
          A child walks into a bar to buy a beer but is refused because they are underage. So they go home and mail order a beer from a country where it's not illegal to sell alcohol to a minor. Now who's in trouble? The company which was complying with all it's local laws i

          • You are completely correct.

            Some people use any contrived analogy just to try to make a point, but it's obvious that backfires most of the times.

            "A flag on the other side of the bar" does not mean you're in another country. It's implied that it is (otherwise the flag-mentioning has no value whatsoever), yet it is then as much implied that there is no different jurisdiction, since it's 'the same bar'.

            But one can't have it both ways.

            If the bar-side with the other flag *REALLY* fell under another jurisdiction w

  • Ha! America doesn't like being told what to do by the EU but thinks the UK should be subjected to rule by the unelected EU overlords.
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @05:09AM (#52147499) Homepage

    I demand that this failure to get first post be forgotten.

  • If Alphabet wins.. they are saying that "information" taken from one nation and stored in another deserves no protection once outside it's boarders.

    Assange couldn't be prosecuted if this prevails (yes, I know that it's only a secret grand jury at the moment) because https://wikileaks.com/ [wikileaks.com] is physically outside of the US and US laws don't apply? In that case wikileaks would only need to install a region filter to demonstrate "token" compliance. Now, if he was somehow kidnapped and found himself on US s

    • If Alphabet wins.. they are saying that "information" taken from one nation and stored in another deserves no protection once outside it's boarders.

      The protection information receives outside its borders is determined by jurisdiction and international agreements. There are agreements on copyrights and extradition. There is no general law or principle about "protection of information". Furthermore, Google search results don't "take information", they merely link to a source in whatever country the informatio

  • Almost half of the items in my /. feed are related to Google. That's a bit much.

  • Does the same law apply to books? Do we go and hunt down books that recorded the events of people and throw them away? Or is search an easy target because they just have to email a request..
  • ... is nothing but censorship. Plain and simple.

    The biggest problem with censorship is that at its fundamental level, it is an attempt to control what people will know or believe, (since what information they are being allowed to access in the first place is controlled), and is an attempt to try and legislate what kinds of things people are even allowed to *THINK* about.

    Nobody, no agency, no authority, no government, absolutely no power absolutely anywhere has any right to decide what any other human being should be allowed to think. Period.

    While it certainly may suck if somebody makes an unfair decision about you because you did something spectacularly stupid or wrong a long time ago when that person is too narrow minded to consider how much time has actually elapsed since it occurred, but in the end that decision is still on them. Unfair shit happens to everybody in this world... heck, half of the people in this world are starving to death, and somebody living in a privileged nation thinks its unfair that an employer won't hire them because of some stupid shit that went down over a decade ago? It doesn't fucking matter whose fault it is when bad stuff happens to any us, it is still that person's individual responsibility to deal with it... and to continue to be the best person that they know how to be, and blaming past mistakes or blaming the fact that other people might not forgive us for them to justify why we aren't being better is just acting like a fucking crybaby. People who do so need to grow the hell up, act like adults, and and take responsibility for their OWN lives in the here and the now, instead of letting what people might believe about them dictate what choices they make.

    (huff, puff, huff, puff, huff, puff.. Well, that turned into more of a rant than I first thought it would).

  • We didn't whip the ass of dictatorship to let anything but the first amendment set the rules of the digital high seas, any more than we let local thugs send out pirate ships to international waters to harass trade there.

    From the halls of Montezuma
    To the shores of Normandeeeeeeee
    We will fight our country's battles
    On the land or in the tubes!

  • "The right to be forgotten" desperately needs a name change, since what it technically means is so radically different from what it plainly says or describes through its words. Its advocates should start calling it the "right to not be mentioned" or something like that, so that people can clearly see that it's merely about limiting speech rather than thought.

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Friday May 20, 2016 @11:05AM (#52149403)

    France doesn't have jurisdiction over Google in the US; all they have jurisdiction over is Google's French subsidiary.

    So, in effect, France is trying to fine Google France for actions committed by the owner of Google France outside of France. If France wants to set that precedent, they are welcome to it; I suspect it will strongly discourage future investment in France and French companies.

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