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Google Seeks To Limit 'Right To Be Forgotten' By Claiming It's Journalistic (cjr.org) 203

"In the first 'right to be forgotten' case to reach England's High Court, two men are fighting to keep their past crimes out of Google's search results, and the tech giant is fighting back by claiming it's 'journalistic.'" Chava Gourarie reports via Columbia Journalism Review: The case, which is actually two nearly identical cases, involves two businessmen who were both convicted of white-collar crimes in the '90s, and requested that Google delist several URLs referencing their convictions, including news articles. When Google denied their requests, they sued under a 2014 European Union ruling which established the right of individuals to have information delisted from search indexes under certain conditions. In its defense, Google has argued that it should be protected under an exception for journalism because it provides access to journalistic content. Even as a legal sleight of hand, the argument is quite a departure from Google's customary efforts to present itself as a disinterested arbiter of information, a position that has become more untenable with time.

Gareth Corfield, a reporter for The Register who covered the cases from the courtroom, said it's disingenuous of Google to put on the mantle of journalism only when it suits them. "They've gone through great lengths to say they don't make any editorial judgement in processing results," Corfield said, but "it now wants you to believe it is on a par with journalism." As the first case to test the "right to be forgotten" in England's High Court, its outcome will likely set some ground rules in the roiling debate between personal privacy and freedom of expression on the internet. Google's sudden identification with journalism may be a legal gambit, but it could have far-reaching effects across the landscape of data protection laws.

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Google Seeks To Limit 'Right To Be Forgotten' By Claiming It's Journalistic

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's show them the Streisand effect!

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      No one cares about it on this small of a level. This isn't some big company, or some huge meaningful event. These people served their time. They shouldn't have it hang over them for the rest of their lives.

      • Re:So who are they (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @10:45PM (#56396183)

        They shouldn't have it hang over them for the rest of their lives.

        If we are going give up the principle of free speech and censor the truth for their benefit, then we will soon find plenty of other excuses for censorship as well.

        Their "right" to force others to erase their past should not trump the right of prospective employers to know the truth that they were once embezzlers. "Serving their time" doesn't always change their character.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You seem to be confused. In Europe, they only pretend to give you free speech, but in reality, it doesn't exist. Not only for this, but for the way they also define hate speech: Basically if somebody considers something you say to be offensive, then you go to jail. Police are given their own discretion to decide if what you say is hate speech, mainly because there is no actual definition of what qualifies as hate speech, just a list of protected categories.

          • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

            You seem to be confused. You talk as if state known as "Europe" with its own legislation exists.

            No such thing exists in reality. Europe is made of tens of different states, each with their own legislation. Some enshrine right to free speech, some go with concept of privileged speech instead.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              You seem to be confused. You talk as if state known as "Europe" with its own legislation exists.

              Ok butt-hair splitter, let me be more specific: The EU. But actually this applies in even non-EU countries in Europe, like Norway, and furthermore, the root of all of this in the EU is written in a document that has the word "European" in its title.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

              Section 2 basically says "we were just kidding about section 1, you don't have any rights", especially with vague terms like "necessary in a democratic society" (aside from this having no specific meaning, the best way to do that

              • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                Did you at all realise that you fully confirmed my point? The point of the said convention being this vague is normal in EU legislative efforts.

                Because what happens is that each and every national parliament has to do what is known as "adoption" of EU legislation. Which means that they can interpret it in any way that is possible within the framework of it, and then codify that into the law.

                Which results in national legislation across the EU that is dramatically different between states. Each state makes an

              • It should be noted that the origin of the European Convention on Human Rights was in the aftermath of the chaos of World War 2 and it was drafted entirely by British and American lawyers.

                If you want to pick holes in the wording, perhaps you should ask them what they meant. Many of them are still alive.

          • Re:So who are they (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @12:25AM (#56396449)

            You seem to be confused. In Europe, they only pretend to give you free speech, but in reality, it doesn't exist.

            Freedom of expression is a human right. Governments may stop you from exercising that right, but it is still an intrinsic right of every human.

            • You seem to be confused. In Europe, they only pretend to give you free speech, but in reality, it doesn't exist.

              Freedom of expression is a human right. Governments may stop you from exercising that right, but it is still an intrinsic right of every human.

              "Freedom of expression is a human right" is a moral and philosophical position, not an objective fact.

              It's a position that I think is very good, and one that I strongly suspect makes the human race objectively better off, which is why we came up with it and why it has become the default position in much of the world. But trying to claim it as some foundational truth of the universe is silly.

            • Freedom of expression is a human right. Governments may stop you from exercising that right, but it is still an intrinsic right of every human.

              From an ideological perspective, I'm not in disagreement. However, EU wide this is not recognized. Sure, some of their language claims it is in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, but in that same article, in the second section, it basically says "By the way, we're just kidding, so we're going to add a bunch of vague language to give us all kinds of loopholes to justify censoring you."

          • "they only pretend to give you free speech, but in reality, it doesn't exist. Not only for this, but for the way they also define hate speech:"

            The USA has limits on free speech too. "Incitment to riot", "fighting words", "slander" various others.

            _some_ european countries have restrictions on religion speech such as "blasphemy" or others, but rascist and other hate speech is widely banned because history has repeatedly shown that when tolerated it quickly escalates to violence, lynchings and occasionally gen

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          You last sentence basically underlines the problem with your thought model, which assumes guilt. This medieval model of justice causes widespread societal damage well documented in modern criminology. Which is why states that value things like low recidivism rates, individual rights and presumption of innocence do not allow it.

          Reminder: after person has served his/her time, they are innocent of any thought crime you may think they're guilty of "based on their character". There are some exceptions generally

          • (crimes of sexual nature driven by specific incurable pathologies).

            Which is far less important to an employer than crimes of a financial greed nature driven by specific other incurable pathologies.

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              1. Why is a for-profit organisation entitled to destroying a natural right in the name of profit.
              2. What are you citation for for crimes of "financial greed nature" being driven by "other incurable pathologies" and what are such pathologies. Be specific, provide criminological or psych citations please. (Hint: this is a view that media sells for views that has nothing to do with reality - ask for a book on criminology related to "financial crimes" in your nearest university library for more).

              • What are you citation for for crimes

                What are you for for the talking?

              • 1. Why is a for-profit organisation entitled to destroying a natural right in the name of profit.

                Wouldn't they be doing the same in finding out they're a pedophile? Isn't free speech (of news agencies) a natural right?

          • You've actually got that backwards. For Most crimes, the recidivism rate is ~70% within 3 years. https://www.nij.gov/topics/cor... [nij.gov]

            For Many crimes, it's as high as 90% within 10.

            That's not a function of a "medieval model of justice" but a product of a lack of civil and social/moral education in america. Nations that have low recidivism, have either high nationalism and strong civic and social education or extremely barbaric criminal punishments. (norway, as an example for the first. vs singapore, for the lat

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              Why are you citing a different country on a different continent with a completely different culture?

              • you probably want to read the thread, and what i'm replying to. =)

                • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                  I have. You replied to my post.

                  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/p... [nih.gov] here's an international view.

                    most of the UK is Far worse than the US, apparently. (i giggled a bit)

                    so, there's that.

                    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                      Have you actually read the synopsis? It's a review by US folks, where they did some google searches. It states clearly that researchers failed in their attempt to generate any meaningful data for non-US sources:

                      Objectives

                      To systematically review recidivism rates internationally, report whether they are comparable and, on the basis of this, develop best reporting guidelines for recidivism.
                      Methods

                      We searched MEDLINE, Google Web, and Google Scholar search engines for recidivism rates around the world, using bo

                    • Yeah, I did. and i'll take 'based on the data available' over 'our crime rates, and recidivism numbers are so bad we treat them like state secrets'

                      thanks!

          • You last sentence basically underlines the problem with your thought model, which assumes guilt.

            They were convicted in a court of law, so at this point a presumption of guilt is justified. If new evidence has come to light, and there is good reason to believe they are innocent, then they should sue under existing libel laws rather than a "right to be forgotten".

            • Libel laws are just laws, a right to privacy is a human right.

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              You either missed the "after the time has been served" part, which is the corner stone of the entire issue, or you're the most malicious person so far in this thread.

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

            What makes you think greed, no self-control and a lack of empathy aren't incurable pathologies?

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              What makes you think that all, most, or even a meaningful minority of criminals fit such a psychological profile?

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            Reminder: after person has served his/her time, they are innocent of any thought crime you may think they're guilty of "based on their character". There are some exceptions generally accepted to this rule (crimes of sexual nature driven by specific incurable pathologies).

            First of all that's not even true in a legal sense, convicted felons for example can't own guns and kiss your chance to work in law enforcement goodbye. Repeat offenders are punished harder. Visas to foreign countries may be denied. None of that would be true if serving time reset you to an innocent snowflake, the sex offender registries are just the icing on the cake. More importantly, judgement of character is something we do all the time without any legal standard of proof or what may be inferred or assu

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              It's true in the way we build our societies. You literally cite nothing but:

              1. Vengeance
              2. More modern internet related companies
              3. Crimes of sexual nature driven by specific incurable pathologies, which I specifically outlined above as exception to the rule

              Essentially you did not read or comprehend my post.

        • by Pop69 ( 700500 )
          There's a thing called the rehabilitation of offenders act.

          It details things like how long you must declare convictions to employers.

          The same time period should be used to determine if a newspaper article should be indexed online
        • Britain doesn't have a principle of free speech, it has a principle of fairness and reasonableness. The reasonable man ethos confers more rights than free speech. Britain has a constitution, it safeguards many rights, but it doesn't safeguard your right to say anything you want.

          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            "more rights than free speech"? Perhaps in some areas. Definitely not in others. In the US truth is nearly a strict defense against libel. (Not quite...there are edge cases, but close.) In Britain this isn't true. (OTOH, you still have to be able to afford legal fees, which really limits the application of this. IIUC, legal fees are a lot less in Britain.)

            • by jd ( 1658 )

              In Britain, truth IS a defence against libel, as has been shown in many cases. But it has to be the truth. As is repeatedly shown in the US (most recently with deHavilland), truth is immaterial in the US.

      • These weren't small beer, or small crimes.

        One (NT1) was a multi-hundred million dollar investment fraud case (up to a billion dollars involved in the UK and USA, with thousands of victims affected) who discovered that whilst his white collar conviction was "spent", attempts to continue in the same line of business were thwarted because people kept looking him up, finding out about his past and his appeal against conviction (the conviction was upheld), then deciding they didn't want to do any investment busi

  • Gareth Corfield, a reporter for The Register who covered the cases from the courtroom, said it's disingenuous of Google to put on the mantle of journalism only when it suits them.

    I guess Corfield never heard of "Pleading the Alternative".

    Hint: This is a legal proceeding. "Disingenuosity" has nothing to do with it.

    Once the billyclubs, handcuffs, writs, bailiffs, and judges are in play It's all about applying the law and interpretations of it in an internally consistent manner that makes you fit into a "within the law" category - no matter how round the hole and square the peg.

    • Once the billyclubs, handcuffs, writs, bailiffs, and judges are in play It's all about applying the law and interpretations of it in an internally consistent manner that makes you fit into a "within the law" category - no matter how round the hole and square the peg.

      If they are claiming protection when providing journalistic content, then for the sake of the consistency shouldn't they also be open to libel charges when they provide defamatory content?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It won't work anyway. the press is regulated, and expected to consider things like the public interest value vs. privacy. Unless Google starts doing that somehow or wants to be regulated that way they won't get far with this argument.

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        In a way it should. The request should be for the pages linked to to be delisted. Google is just being an index, it's not providing the story.

    • In Britain, it is a matter of law that justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

  • The thing I really don't like about "The right to be forgotten" is that it potentially serves to erase history that would be really valuable or informative many years hence. I kind of feel like "Right to be Forgotten" should be paired with some kind of time-sealed government run vault (hey, I'm rolling my own eyes here, just can't think of a better way to express this idea), into which all of the "forgotten" data would go and be kept more permanently until tit did not matter what was inside.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      In this case, these are people who served their time, and in the past would have been allowed to try to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.

      In today's world, they're forever branded by a private enterprise, that is universally used for looking up names. The right to be forgotten is a very important thing to maintain society's ability to let private citizens actually do the time they owe to the society, and then be able to reintegrate.

      Let me make this really simple. Google's actions

      • in the past would have been allowed to try to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.

        In the past they would have lived in a small village where everyone knows everyone and everything, and nothing is ever forgotten.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          If you want to go back that far then they can just move to another village. People in China still do that, because they don't have vast archives of reports about individuals online.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        In this case, these are people who served their time, and in the past would have been allowed to try to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society. (...) The right to be forgotten is a very important thing to maintain society's ability to let private citizens actually do the time they owe to the society, and then be able to reintegrate.

        You keep repeating the same lie but it doesn't make it any truer. What you're saying is that you can't rebuild and reintegrate unless the slate is wiped clean, but lots of people have done just that through remorse, making amends and being forgiven while being totally open about their past. Perhaps the past is stickier than you'd like and some will never forgive, forget or even accept that you've changed because some wounds never heal but you will have to live with that. Not having to own up to your past by

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Well, lots of people have, indeed, rebuilt their lives after a major problem, legal or otherwise. But this isn't a binary situation, and a lot of people have also been prevented from rebuilding their lives. It's *ONE* of the causes of a high rate of recidivism. Admittedly not the only one.

          Perhaps it should be like the French Foreign Legion was reputed to be....once you are out you are given a totally new identity that had no link to your prior identity. Of course, there would be the small problem of no

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          It doesn't make it any truer because you can't take a true statement and make it "truer". Which I don't do.

          You on the other hand proceed to make an issue of natural right people had, which has been taken away by for-companies with awful consequences for societies, and suggest that it is moral to do so. And then you somehow try to tie this to "unwriting the past".

          Former claim is simply about "this is current year, and your natural rights don't mean a thing if I can find a novel way to take them away from you

    • by cstacy ( 534252 )

      "Right to be Forgotten" should be paired with some kind of time-sealed government run vault into which all of the "forgotten" data would go and be kept more permanently until tit did not matter what was inside.

      Hopefully Logan and Jessica will get there before it's too late.

    • "Right to be Forgotten" should be paired with some kind of time-sealed government run vault

      Golly, that is a wonderful idea, and I can't imagine how it could possibly be abused.

  • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Friday April 06, 2018 @10:11PM (#56396073)
    I hate whenever a term is considered a "right". You right to be forgotten has to be balanced with my right to know what criminal shit you did. And if you were convicted of a crime you better have a very good reason why your right is more important than mine. Excluding criminal acts this whole exercise of being forgotten sickens me. We all do stupid things and say even worse, at least those of us who have ever actually done something in our lives. Most people who want to punish people for what they find online are punishing them for it being public not for what they have done. I honestly don't care if there happen to be pictures of my girlfriend naked on the internet, or something a coworker has posted in a comment section and later regretted.

    However, by putting so much emphasis on deleting these things we add to the shame of the original act. Everyone should say what you are thinking, post a picture of yourself naked, then when it is so common then no one will actually care. If you want my opinion on something, ask me and have a civilized conversation about it.
    • There are places with "clean slate" laws, where criminal convictions are hidden from nearly anyone, providing they're not too bad (usually violent and sexual crimes, sometimes any prison sentence)
      The only way to access them is by the person who committed them, when they need to supply it for immigration to counties that don't have those laws.

      The easy access to past crimes that would have been covered by these clean slate laws undermines them and that's the reason for the "right to be forgotten" laws in the

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      You have no right to know about "criminal shit that was done" if person in question served their time and you don't have very specific special needs and people committed very limited array of crimes that carry high risk of recidivism.

      See, that's the way our justice system works. If you commit a crime, we don't brand people with burning irons, or the modern google version of the same thing. Instead we let them do their time, and then work on reintegrating them into the society. Right to be forgotten in this

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ]3.net ['rld' in gap]> on Saturday April 07, 2018 @05:32AM (#56396985) Homepage Journal

      It helps if you understand exactly what this right is, rather than just reacting to the name.

      The right to be forgotten applies to companies that keep and supply data about people. There is a long history of this, e.g. with credit reference agencies.

      You, as an individual, don't have an automatic right to know about a person's criminal past. Never have. While for practical reasons such information cannot be completely hidden, people have a right to move past certain convictions once they have paid their due to society. Just like you don't have a right to know the contents of their bank account or their medical history, spent convictions cannot be made discoverable except by journalists and others who are expected to consider the public interest value of that information.

    • It's even more fundamental than that. If you were wrongfully accused or your conviction was later overturned, then I can totally understand wanting records of your accusation or conviction stricken from the public record. But if you really were convicted of the crime, then "right to be forgotten" = "right to hide the truth".

      Anything which makes it a crime to reveal the truth is treading on extremely dangerous ground, undermining the very basis of a civilized society. The whole basis of society is that
  • To assert the "right to be forgotten" is to assert power over other people's memories. There is no such thing — and there should not be.

    If you insist on creating one — for the "evil KKKorporations" — one day your ex will have the power to insist, your memories of the time together be wiped out. It is already possible [medicalnewstoday.com].

    • Europe suffered over 30 million deaths in living memory at the hands of regimes that overrode freedom of speech...and over a hundred million in Russia continue the same.

      What a goof to convince the common man to feel in charge, and that therefore, finally! Censorship can be wielded responsibly!

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        You were trying to make some kind of point, of that I am sure. But you didn't... Could you try again, maybe? Are you arguing in support of censoring somebody else's memories? Because it can now be done by "the people" instead of by tyrants?

  • It should be noted that the position of not making any editorial judgement is not incompatible with a desire to protect journalism. Using the metaphor of a book store, Google is acting like a book store, who does not make any editorial judgement on the books being sold. However, if the book store is disallowed to sell certain books, then the journalism produced by the authors of these books are certainly harmed, since it would be impossible to access these books via this book store.
    • Whether not Alphabet wants to protect journalism, they don't get to pick and choose: if they want protections afforded to journalistic content then they will also have to accept penalties for libelous content. I don't think that's a sword they are willing to both live and die by, especially not in England where libel laws are much more severe than the US.
  • Go to the source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bidule ( 173941 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @02:38AM (#56396719) Homepage

    I don't like this lazy way of getting forgotten.

    Ask the state to get your conviction stricken from the public records.
    Get newspapers to respect your privacy by hiding newspaper articles about it.
    Get those "forgotten" records hidden from spiders if you still want explicit searches to work.
    THEN, go to Google to clean up what's left.

    If the state believe in the "right to be forgotten" enough to handle the first steps, there should only be low ranking stuff left behind.

  • The right of being forgotten is erasing our History.
    We have here someone that has been a candidate for Presidential runs, and that has been in the future, that has been a desertor and a traitor in our old colonial wars.
    Most seriously yet, he has in the hands, metaphorically speaking the blood of many of his countrymen, due to be running a radio station that denounced to our enemies our positions.
    He used the right from Google to be forgotten, and obliterated with that part of the History from our colonia
  • And it is journalistic.

    Facts should not be suppressed because they inconvenience or offend someone, nor because they cause someone unwanted attention or discomfort. BUT, of course, some people think they should have a history that is of limited scope.

    This is a problem similar to that of court records in a digital age. Now that we have the technology to actually access those 'public' records, suddenly there are some efforts to limit that newly-realized access. Poo. No.

    Similar problem in the US with people t

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