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EU Commission Says People Have a 'Right To Be Forgotten' Online

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the pesky-data-retention-laws dept.

Privacy 200

nk497 writes "The European Commission wants to strengthen data protection rules to give more power to consumers — including the right to be forgotten online. Legislation it's looking to push through next year will let consumers know when and how their data is being used, and force companies to delete it when asked. 'People should be able to give their informed consent to the processing of their personal data,' the commission said in a statement. 'They should have the "right to be forgotten" when their data is no longer needed or they want their data to be deleted.'"

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200 comments

What about other people's data about me? (2, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134342)

I can delete my Facebook account but I can't delete the photos someone else took with me in them.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

cronco (1435465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134354)

How is this any different than the pre-internet world?

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134440)

There is a big difference between a few drunk snaps kept in a draw for only a few to see Vs a few drunk snaps that anyone can see when they like. You don't even have to be drunk. A few pics with a date that doesn't match up could cause a person havoc.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134494)

Then Facebook is the same as a photoshop. No-one MADE Facebook take your photos and scan them in and put them online and name you on them - some random individual (presumably someone who knows you, possibly not) put them up. What's the difference between that person getting a copy of the image from a photo shop and showing it to people in your office (presuming they work there too) or a potential future employer, or sticking it in their own photo album, or showing their cousins, or whatever else. You gonna hold the photoshop responsible if that happens?

If there is a photo of you that you don't want people to see - SEIZE the photo, not punish Facebook. The "idiot" that puts that photo online and tags you is the one who drops you in it, not Facebook. They could have done it on a million and one different sites, or in a letter, or pinned the photo to a noticeboard anonymously. And if it was taken in a public place, there's actually NOTHING you can do about it in the majority of sensible countries, so long as the photo is published complete (i.e. they didn't amplify your face and print it out on leaflets that they spread throughout the town but) - In lots of countries you have no right to photographs that include you if you're not the main subject of the photo and it's taken in a public place.

Basically - don't be stupid. That means that any moron that appears in my "photo of a new york street" could get my holiday photos deleted from Facebook - and, in fact, ANYONE could if they just *claimed* to be in the photo. How would Facebook prove / disprove otherwise.

Please stop thinking that the existence of Facebook in particular changes ANYTHING with regards personal privacy. And be more cautious about being photographed pissed out of your skull by work colleagues. And work in places that understand the work-personal life separation and that don't think just Googling each candidate's name is a reliable way to accurately find out about any possible indiscretions (otherwise every John Smith has an AWFUL hard time finding out) - if that's even LEGAL for them to do in the first place.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134764)

Yes, but are we going to ignore this to the point that facebook and google get so good at mining our data that every time you think "I could eat a blueberry muffin right now" a delivery boy is already knocking on your door, muffin in hand, before you can even think "God, why am I 500lbs!?!?"

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134840)

The sad news is that there is an ever increasing population of people that WANT things to get to that level. Convenience at any cost, so to speak.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135502)

I don't mind that. If fully informed and rational adults are willing to give up some privacy in exchange for some convenience, who am I to tell them they may not do so?

The sad thing, to me, is that the trend in recent years has been for corporations to just decide for us that everyone is like that, and act accordingly, because it makes them more money and privacy laws are so weak in most places that there has been nothing to stop the rot. Not everyone is happy for that sort of thing to happen.

Also, not everyone is mature enough and sufficiently aware of the facts to make an informed and rational decision. Those who are not include children, adults with learning disabilities, and non-technical/legal people who simply don't realise the implications of uploading data that they think only their "friends" can see.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34135518)

give me convenience or give me death!

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134862)

>>>Then Facebook is the same as a photoshop.

That's a good point. If for example a teacher is discovered drinking beer on her former dormmate's Facebook, and the government tries to fire her for "setting a poor example", she can simply claim, "That is me, but I never did that. The photo is a fake and that event never happened." She can then sue the government for improper dismissal, and it's incumbent upon them to prove guilt (which they cannot do).

Same goes for any other worker who might be fired for photos online. "That is me but I was never drinking, or smoking weed. It's a fake." Innocent until proven guilty.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135538)

Same goes for any other worker who might be fired for photos online. "That is me but I was never drinking, or smoking weed. It's a fake." Innocent until proven guilty.

That won't work with private employers in right-to-work states.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135644)

Careful on that. The burden of proof actually is on the person who is in the picture in reality. Try convincing a jury (where most of the jurors think Photoshop is where they go to drop off their 35mm roll film) that the picture is fake. Go into detail about where the pixels don't jive, and the jurors' eyes will glaze over until the opposite attorney stands up and says to ignore the technobabble.

Most Americans don't know, and don't care about faked pictures, so almost always if a picture shows someone with a beer in the hand, juries will assume that is true automatically.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134914)

>>>Please stop thinking that the existence of Facebook in particular changes ANYTHING with regards personal privacy.

It does. It changes the level of distribution for your Drunken Party Photo from "a few friends" to "the entire globe". Which unfortunately includes your current employer, or the HR department of the new company you're trying to join.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135114)

Because one of your "few friends" put it somewhere where "the entire globe" could see it. Nothing new there. They've always been able to do that. And it's the "friend" that does that that's the problem, same as if your private sex photos end up in the newspaper - blame your friend, not the paper, because there were a million and one other avenues for those photos to get into the public domain and they ALL start with your friend.

And again, those sorts of HR department investigations are (in most civilised countries) completely 100% inaccurate and completely 100% illegal (because of the poor accuracy, and the right to a private life, and it being a complete breach of data protection laws - a PC just got sacked in the UK for looking up her dates on the police national computer without there being any good reason, and it's no different - those people had a right to privacy). They could stop you working there because they "don't approve" of your first name or date of birth or because you remind them of their abusive father or because you used to date their girlfriend just as easily and untraceably. That's why a lot of HR departments are basically panels of people and it would take collaboration (and thus organised corruption of the department) to subvert such things. Facebook didn't change anything there. The internet didn't change anything. Fifty years ago, it would still have been stupid to go to your home town and ask people on the street if they knew a "John Smith" and get employment references from them for every employee and that stood a MUCH better chance of someone actually talking about the right John Smith. And even if they went to your house and asked your father for a reference and he says you're out on the town, or spending the night in a police cell, that's your *father's* fault for revealing the information in the first place.

Facebook didn't change anything, it just offers a route. The choice of that route still has to come from people who take photos of you pissed out of your skull and think it's funny for them to be shown to others without your consent even if it *might* affect your employability. Or, if you work in certain professions where you KNOW some private actions will affect your career (e.g. getting pissed while working for alcoholic anonymous, or making a porn movie while working for a school) it's in your employment contract and local established law / case history and thus you're wrong in DOING those actions whether or not they are notified to your employers. Stop using Facebook as a scapegoat. The site is crap, it has a bad history of data protection and it pisses me off something chronic with its attempts to get me to give all sorts of data away - but, hell, if my friends were stupid or I was doing stuff that I "didn't want my employer to know about" anyway, that's not Facebook's fault - that's the fault of the first step of such things being made "public" - either the friend that posts the image (or even TAKES it) or the person shown affecting their employability anyway.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135288)

>>>They've always been able to do that.

False. When I was growing-up I had no way of publishing a photo to the whole world. I know because I tried it a couple times, but there was nothing like facebook, and the internet was still limited to just a few thousand college professors & computer hobbyists. Only the mass media corporations had the resources to distribute to the entire globe. - Not until ~2000 did the WWW reach greater than 50% of the population, and allow them to could share photos to the whole world. SO YES facebook, myspace, and other services have changed the level of distribution.
.

>>>those sorts of HR department investigations are (in most civilised countries) completely 100% inaccurate and completely 100% illegal

You saying the US is uncivilized? We are a different culture from the UK, that's true, but that doesn't mean we're not civilized. We have rule of law just like you do, and without a pesky queen to overrule it, or the will of the people. Anyway:

Here it's perfectly okay for HR departments to run background checks on their employees, including contacting the Social Security (SS) department to retrieve your employment history, and online postings/websites. And I suspect even in the EU, if it's illegal, it's still performed by the human resources employees in secret. (Like in the movie GATTACA where it was illegal to sample people's genes, and yet employers did it anyway.)

Maybe you'll understand better after you become a victim yourself.
I used to think like you, that nothing would ever happen,
until I became scammed a few times, and 2 employers stole my wages.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135140)

It changes the level of distribution for your Drunken Party Photo from "a few friends" to "the entire globe". Which unfortunately includes your current employer, or the HR department of the new company you're trying to join.

Unless your friends are idiots and/or you have a public profile, how could the HR department find you? I don't have a Facebook profile. I have wound up on a few of my friends pages but they are smart enough not to put my last name up there. My first name is a fairly common one so I'm not at all worried about HR searching me out.....

Re:What about other people's data about me? (4, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135084)

The problem isn't facebook as-such - the problem is how the web is turning into a semantic one - which lets you link information to one another.

If in the old days, I had a website with a few friends which we put images on - then only my friends would know about that. If I had any embarassing images, or images of me getting wasted or something - there is no problem at all.

People have many different aspects - and they would kindly like to keep those aspects seperate. You may be known to your friends as "That person who can belch the loudest", but when you're writing a C.V. - you don't put it over there. People want to keep these information private to certain people- the problem is that with all the links now - you can't really do that.

To give a proper example - take Linkln (which is used for 'professional' networking) and Facebook. You would ideally have a professional 'aspect' being shown there for your employer to see that you went to convention X, worked at company Y for N years et cetera - you don't want your employer to look at your 'wild side' on Facebook.

To summerise the above disjunctions - I may want my different aspects to be avaliable online - but I don't want everyone to be able to access them - and I want to be able to 'erase' mistakes which happened in my past - especially to someone important. People change (and therefore have "A right to be forgotten") and people have different aspects for different people - the way you are towards your friends =/= way you are towards your partner =/= towards your parents =/= towards your employers.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135232)

I hear a lot of people say that, but I think the answer is that access is so much easier that the entire question is shifted substantially, and for most people it is shifted across the threshold of acceptable privacy. Yes, in the past a random person could take my picture in a public place and show their friends; now they can take my picture, tag me, put it on the internet, and show the whole world that I specifically was at a certain place specifically at a certain time specifically. Although those situations are on the same continuum, they are so far apart along that continuum, that it is reasonable to consider that there could be meaningful tipping points in between those two points on that continuum.

But as for this specific rule, I don't have an opinion. I merely consider it reasonable that a person could perhaps arrive at that conclusion.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134408)

If you delete your FB account, you should not be taggable in these photos. So it's really down to FB to actually delete accounts and associated links, which they don't. That's the problem.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (3, Informative)

cronco (1435465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134438)

You can tag anything with any name on Facebook, it's just that the tag won't link to your profile if you don't have one.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134626)

i tag tags with a tag tag

Re:What about other people's data about me? (4, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134412)

I can delete my Facebook account but I can't delete the photos someone else took with me in them.

All data on Facebook is property of Facebook, not of the people who put it there... so you should be able to ask Facebook to remove it... (according to the text, "companies (i.e. Facebook) will be forced to delete it when asked").

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134476)

All data on Facebook is property of Facebook, not of the people who put it there... so you should be able to ask Facebook to remove it... (according to the text, "companies (i.e. Facebook) will be forced to delete it when asked").

And that doesn't sound like it will ripe for abuse...

Oh wait...

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135052)

I'm assuming you're being sarcastic and believe this could be abused. How?

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135344)

Erm, in a similar way to false DMCA take-down notices - claim that you're in a photo that you're not. Companies have been filing DMCA take-downs for stuff that they don't own the copyright for, so what is to stop people claiming that they are in a photo when they're not?

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135490)

Doesn't Facebook have face recognition?
Shouldn't be much of a problem to find out who is on a picture... many people actually consider it another privacy intrusion that Facebook is able to do this... :)

Most cases of things that need to be taken offline are quite harmless, and the benefits (at first glance) outweight the possible abuses. Also, it may be just a little more difficult than a single anonymous email to get content removed. Pranksters may not want to go that far.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134422)

I can delete my Facebook account but I can't delete the photos someone else took with me in them.

While I believe that the EU is targeting the corporate world with these rules, it would be interesting to see an attempt to enforce this against individuals. For example, if you're at a company picnic and I snap a photo that happens to have you in the background. I then post said photo to my Facebook account. Should I be required to take down a photo that incidentally has you in if you request me to do so? Whose interest will win out in this scenario? Your interest in remaining anonymous online or my interest to share photos with friends and family?

This also brings up another salient point: in most cases, this is data that was collected with the consumer's consent. If you RTFA, the EU intends to strengthen the informed consent rules to make sure that when someone gives consent to have data collected and stored they actually mean it, but that doesn't negate the fact that in most cases data is collected as the result of some action taken by the consumer/user. There is a big difference between complaining about data being collected/stored without your consent and complaining about data being collected/stored after you have consented.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134952)

A photo taken in a public park is not "owned" by anyone. The light bouncing off your body is the common property of all.

Now if your photo was in somebody's home, then they'd certainly have the right to request you stop pasting photos of their furniture/friends online, because that's (1) private and (2) enticing to thieves and potentially dangerous.

Re:What about other people's data about me? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134898)

Interestingly enough 'deleting' your stuff on facebook does not mean that they disappear - but rather that they're marked to be deleted later - and kept for a few months until their garbage collector gets around to it. There was a /. story about that recently.

Agreed (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134348)

This is a great idea, have your information deleted when you ask. There is 0 percent chance of ever seeing this in the US or Canada but it's a great concept. Why should someone have your data with out you knowing and better yet why should they keep it if you ask it to be destroyed.

Re:Agreed (3, Insightful)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134474)

On the contrary, this has all kinds of ugly written all over it. With how easy it is to impersonate people online, I can see many ways in which this can be abused.

Someone impersonates someone else and gets their data deleted. Easy enough, just ask to get it restored from backup, right? Wait, they're not allowed to keep backups of deleted stuff because that would violate this new law. Ouch...

Let the damn companies have whatever policies they want, force them to be open about those policies, and then let the people decide which companies they will deal with. Hell, even create a public forum for people to share their experiences with the companies so that others can be educated. But don't pass laws that could very easily make life hell for those that might actually WANT their information online (but not necessarily shared).

Re:Agreed (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134548)

Let the damn companies have whatever policies they want, force them to be open about those policies, and then let the people decide which companies they will deal with. Hell, even create a public forum for people to share their experiences with the companies so that others can be educated. But don't pass laws that could very easily make life hell for those that might actually WANT their information online (but not necessarily shared).

I'm gonna have to agree with you here. This sounds, once again, like government trying to solve the problem of people that are too dumb to understand what they're doing. While there should definitely be policies in place to prevent people from collecting and/or storing data on you without your permission, in most cases permission was probably given and the consumer was just too dumb to realize it.

Re:Agreed (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135270)

One of the jobs of the government is to lend a helping hand to people who don't want to read pages and pages of legal language for every new website they go to. The unregulated market will certainly fail to provide a reasonable solution to that problem, so it is proportionally reasonable for the government to take action. Whether or not government action is a good idea in this specific case is a separate question, but we should all be able to agree that it is at least reasonable to consider it.

Re:Agreed (1)

jhigh (657789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135390)

One of the jobs of the government is to lend a helping hand to people who don't want to read pages and pages of legal language for every new website they go to.

By whose standard? The post is about Europe, so maybe that's accurate over there. I live in the U.S. and that is most certainly NOT one of the jobs of the (federal) government. It is precisely thinking like that that has resulted in the massive, unsustainable government that we have here in America. Again, I know that this post is talking about Europe, and maybe that is certainly within their legal purview. But that doesn't mean that it should be.

The unregulated market will certainly fail to provide a reasonable solution to that problem,

Again, says who? While it may take a little bit, eventually a company's reputation for abusing the data that it collects will spread and the people that care about how having their data abused will stop using that company. The elitist BS thinking that everyone in the world is too dumb to figure this stuff out so the government has to take over is precisely what is wrong with so much today.

Re:Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34135582)

in most cases permission was probably given and the consumer was just too dumb to realize it.

In that case then permission was not really given. They have effectively been tricked into something they were not aware of. That's NOT the same as agreeing to it.

Re:Agreed (4, Insightful)

ashkante (1714490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134652)

Assuming that the effort put into this law is more than half-assed, I am thinking that there may be a distinction between "data I have put there (into the cloud) to be stored, as in documents, photos, database contents, etc", versus "data that the companies collect, as in webpage visit counters, IP addresses, browser and system stats". I, personally, include web registration data, addresses, phone numbers among the latter. And yes, I would like to have those erased, along with backups if I stop using the web service. As for impersonation, that can wreak some pretty nasty havoc with your life even without such legislation and needs further looking-into. I am grateful at least that I don't have to write laws about it :D

Re:Agreed (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134784)

I'm not as concerned with "half-assery" as I am with the law-making bodies just not understanding the technology they're writing laws to control. In other words, they may put their full hearts, as it were, into making a "great" law that is in perfect harmony with their understanding of things... which turns out to be a really horrible law because their understanding is flawed. How many of these people making these laws actually use the technology they are writing laws about? THAT is the scary part to me.

If a company keeps paper records of your online data, are they forced to "delete" that as well? Or is taking it "offline" sufficient? Can they sell the information to another company first, delete your data, and then buy it back? I could go on and on.

The problem here is that they cannot (and will not) think of everything and will most likely make the current situation worse by providing loopholes in the law (which can later be "lawfully exploited").

Re:Agreed (4, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134664)

Let the damn companies have whatever policies they want, force them to be open about those policies

That is how it should be. And a number of European countries have data privacy laws to that effect. Companies have to publish what they are going to do with your data and are not allowed to do anything else with it. They also have to let you know, on request, what data they have on you. Not a bad law, but I would like to see it extended a little bit, as follows:

A company's data privacy disclaimer/statement shall not exceed half a page of text (A4/Letter in 12 point letters, in case someone wants to get smart with fine print). It shall not be embedded in a longer generic disclaimer, but stand on its own.

Better yet, the government could issue a generic, well-understood disclaimer in which companies provide the details about the data, access, retention, sharing, etc. Currently it is not humanly possible to read these disclaimers, being half a book's worth of legalese. This is done on purpose.

Re:Agreed (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134824)

if only people had sense.... and could all grok legalese.

you see that approach is defeated by the cunning approach of every service offering terms and policies which

1: make no guarantee or promise of anything at all under any circumstances (just read your antivirus T&C)
2: state that you have no rights at all
3: state that they reserve the right to do anything they feel like doing.

Since nobody reads the T&C or policies it's not a selling point.
So they include whatever they like and then simply don't enforce it most of the time.

So the only indicator is their actual behaviour.

not their policies or T&C's

Re:Agreed (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134946)

There will always be ignorant masses, and that isn't limited to those employed by government. :p

I can agree that a form of transparency isn't enough, but it should still be a requirement. Even educated people avoid reading those T&C clauses, because, as you said, they so rarely interact with reality. So... what is the answer?

Stupid is as stupid does and there is a little Gump in all of us.

Re:Agreed (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135498)

That's probably because in most if not all jurisdictions it's viewed as reasonable to require an attorney to read the T&C before doing anything. In that mythical world, we also all have sports cars and can bed any super model we wish.

Seriously, there's something really, really wrong that people are expected to have to hire an attorney in order to know what it is that they're agreeing or not agreeing to.

Have a Backup & Restore Feature... (1)

zQuo (1050152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135438)

It would be very nice if social networks had an official backup and restore feature to your profile. Then you could truly have control of your data, and delete or restore your account as needs without much fuss.

Re:Agreed (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135532)

It's not enough to rely on simply publishing the policies and customers choosing which service to use.

It does not protect the consumer data from the first 'incident' when the company chooses to change their policies and sell everything to advertisers; or for example when company is sold/merged with another provider, which gets the data - there need to be strong legal teeth that prevent the company from ever abusing my data if I gave them this data 10 years ago when they were well-behaved.

Re:Agreed (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134528)

but it's a great concept. Why should someone have your data with out you knowing and better yet why should they keep it if you ask it to be destroyed.

What I know, is mine. This, is saying that my knowledge is not mine and can be taken from me. Really, it looks like the next step from those absurd libel laws where truth isn't a defense. What's the next step after this one, require that anyone can have anyone else dragged off to get portions of their memory medically erased?

Re:Agreed (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134678)

Or maybe we'll have cases where people take themselves to court because they had their memory erased.

Re:Agreed (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134866)

But it's not your information.

First and foremost - read that EULA. Learn what Facebook owns, what Google owns, heck - even WoW owns the copyright and any IP generated in game chat. Different companies have different EULAs, but you don't often see pro-consumer language in them.

Second - if it happens in public, it's public record. (Or if not in the wide open public - then at least in some sort of community where you either have no reasonable expectation of privacy or at least a limited expectation (e.g. what's the difference between a register to use website or shopping in person at Costco with a membership card?). Public is public - it is not private. If it's viewable from a public location you don't have an expectation of privacy (see the Streisand house here. [wikipedia.org]) The fact that we don't have to dig into dusty archives and use a microfiche to search for public information should not change a thing. Technology is supposed to make things easier - which includes searching into the past.

If you want to make laws which don't screw with well established expectations of privacy then you should aim at discrimination based on lifestyle. Don't make it illegal (which some of it already is) without giving some serious teeth (i.e. major fiscal penalties for a job which refuses to hire you based on how you spend your time in the evenings (assuming it's non-relevant to the job in question)). In addition to teeth you'll also have to make access to information a part of the law too. It doesn't do any good if you can have a rat-sneaky HR make lifestyle policy choices while selecting another candidate for a job or promotion "based on [bogus] qualification" X.

Re:Agreed (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135314)

It is your information, just because you put a disclaimer in a EULA doesn't mean shit, there easy to fight and win. Just because something states what they own I can still over rule them.

Amazing, and ironic (5, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134352)

Is this the same European Commission that decided some time ago to force data and voice service providers to keep phone and email records for years?

Will these data be subject to the "right to be forgotten", or government-retained stuff will be magically excepted?

Consistency, thy name is Europe.

As opposed to... what? (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134430)

Yes, they did mandate keeping the logs for a given time, but then they have to be deleted, and specified who has the right to get them. I.e., it takes a subpoena.

But, as opposed to... what? Just trusting that the companies will automatically delete those logs, and will never use them for marketing or whatnot? Just look at the Facebook for an example of how much better _that_ went than, you know, ooooh, scary inconsistent nanny-state Europe.

Re:As opposed to... what? (3, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134486)

Actually, every country is free to implement the details of the directive in question regarding data deletion and privacy as they see fit. There is no magic "removal" wand, and many countries will keep some data, officially or not.

Some EC member countries even immediately abused the directive to mean extra data collection. Some countries decided to interpret it as a requirement for the police to have direct, real-time access to such information. In some countries, the fight to protect citizen privacy due to this directive is still not won by a wide margin.

Ignoring the schizophrenic inconsistency of the EC and not taking them to task is why they've turned the way they are.

The same European Commission is, for example, currently conspiring with several other governments and big business organizations to promote even more surveillance and enforcement with ACTA, and denies the European Parliament access to the text of the proposal agreements.

Re:As opposed to... what? (2, Interesting)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134504)

You know, given the choice between my retained personal information being used to (a) sell me pizza or (b) imprison me for expressing an unpopular political viewpoint, I think (b) is a way bigger deal than (a). And given Europe's track record on (b) (hint: 1936-1945 in one bit, and 1917-1991 in another), I'm going to have to say that the Eurofascists scare me a lot more than social media does.

Heh (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134606)

1. If you think your data in the USA would only be given to the pizzerias, and not to the USA government... heh. It's funny. You do know they subpoenad such stuff from Google and others already, right?

2. Oooh, scary Euro-fascists, 'cause you can dig up something from 65 years ago. Heh. Ah, the joys of semi-literate trolls who never heard of anything after WW2 because it's not in the Hollywood movies they mistake for education... Besides, I guess it saves the home-schooled right from acknowledging that the rest of the world has actually moved out of the 40's.

3. But if you want to compare fascists, let's compare fascists.

The USA moved a minority to concentration camps for, pretty much, fearing that their political sympathies may not be the proper ones... when? Oh wait, it was during the WW2 too.

The USA had the idiotic McCarthy scare... when? Until the late 50's? Shouldn't you remember that too, if for Europe the 1936-1945 era counts as recent enough?

The USA imprisoned and tortured people for mere suspicions, and skipping all human rights or safeguards of the rule of law... when? Oh, wait, that was in the 21'th century. I guess the 1945 is scarier because it's more recent than that, huh? Oh wait, it isn't.

The USA datamined not just phone records, but even grocery lists, to try to find out who's a muslim... when? Oh, wait, that's 21'st century too.

So, remind me, which of the two should you fear more? The ones who actually tortured people for the mere suspicion of supporting the wrong gang 2-3 years ago, or those who did it 65 years ago?

Re:Heh (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134870)

While I agree with most of what you said, do you honestly think the US is working alone in these recent actions?

Re:Heh (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135104)

The ones who actually tortured people for the mere suspicion of supporting the wrong gang 2-3 years ago, or those who did it 65 years ago?

Nice post.

I would like to add that the European gang in question found themselves swinging at the end of a rope for their trouble. It also lead to the establishment of the Nuremburg Principles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Principles [wikipedia.org]

Re:Heh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34135376)

The US also had a massive Eugenics program before the Germans, and sterilised over 100,000 people who were considered "not suitable to breed". It was only cancelled because of distaste at the Germans.

Re:As opposed to... what? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135552)

I was harassed for a number of years by the US Navy when my high school handed over my contact information to the government without my permission or even being required to tell me they had done it. They're not required to disclose that they can't continue contacting you without permission and they're not required to adhere to any sort of ethical standard when it comes to making promises either. Deep within the contract they want you to sign is a "military convenience" clause which pretty much indicates that any promises the recruiter made in terms of what or where you're going to serve are only valid so far as the military feels like consenting.

Re:As opposed to... what? (1)

sirlatrom (1162081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135028)

I do realise you're being sarcastic, but whereas "scary" and "inconsistent" are valid adjectives to associate with the continent Europe depending on what your opinion is, "nanny-state" isn't because Europe isn't a state, it's a continent, and furthermore The European Commission is a political body within the European Union, which is not the same as the continent Europe. Just the same way as [North] America isn't the same as the United States of America.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134442)

Probably a different department :)

You seem to suggest that laws cannot conflicht with each other... But laws are only as good as the people who wrote them, and that suggests that it is very possible indeed that laws conflict with each other.

Anyway, I am happy that at least online data can be removed now.
All stored data (on a company database or a government database) will be another thing...

-- A small step forward is still a stop forward.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134496)

I would be even happier if, when such proposals go to the European Parliament, someone will remember to add a clause mandating the member governments to respect this right.

Compared to government abuse, company data retention is much less dangerous.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135286)

In the EU, there is an independant court called the "European Court of Human Rights" which deals with things of that manner. If you honestly feel that the government is infringing your rights in this manner, you can actually sue your government for it.

And in certain cases, the government actually lost and had to pay up and change - so its not just a 'pretend' court.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_court_of_human_rights

Do as I say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134480)

Do as I say, not as I do. This isn't merely the theme of all government; it is the foundation. Nearly everything government does would be illegal (and immoral) if it was done by an individual.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (4, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134498)

It's perfectly consistent once you stop being an ass and purposefully misunderstand the topic. Government and its way of using information is strictly regulated here - and by regulated I don't mean Bush-style "we do what we want and laws be damned" regulation, but a real working one.
Problem is, facebook, google et al are largely NOT regulated. They can keep your information forever, even if you "delete" it from your account, and sell it to the highest bidder. This is the part where essentially all EU member states start to have problems - here culturally, privacy is taken far more seriously then in US. As a result, the legislation is aimed to bring the american privacy "you have none" culture that is currently used in most of these companies closer in line with the European values. Such as not being able to just mine data and then mass sell it, even after you expressed a wish for data to be deleted instead.

The data and voice service providers have to keep certain data because they are common carriers. They are not, for example, allowed to mine the data and sell it, and they are only allowed to pass the data on when courts or certain legally entitled entities request it. There is no inconsistency, we can have both. We just have to have laws that work, and government that obeys them.

And notably, this is one of the very few issues where you can safely call then "European values", and not look like a clueless idiot, because unlike most things on which we Europeans tend to differ in a major way across our countries' borders, privacy is something treated in a very similar way across borders on the continent.

If this shocks you as an american, that's okay. We're shocked that you view universal healthcare as something bad too. It's a cultural difference. Just because we have universal healthcare doesn't mean we should force it on you, and just because you have no right to privacy (from our point of view) doesn't mean that you should force similar regime on us.

Mod this up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134654)

Shame I don't have any points available now - this is one of the best posts of recent times - informative and rationally/calmly worded.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135202)

I totally get that Europeans value privacy and seek to promote it through regulation. What I don't understand is how this is a "right". Rights are derived from first principles, not enacted on an as needed basis. What is the philosophical underpinning of this "right" to privacy?

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34135312)

(don't feed the trolls, folks)

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135556)

Note sure what kind of answer you are expecting but:

"Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

Re:Amazing, and ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134602)

In fact, you bring up an interesting point.

Could this be used as a loophole by people to erase their tracks online if they were uploading potentially illegal content? (such as abuse images, terrorism, etc.)
Will this right overrule their data retention laws?
Or are they just being "nice, but only to a point"?

Mind you, if people were regularly erasing information using the "service"(?), they could probably be tagged and talked to in order to understand what is going on.
It could simply be a case of someone continuously posting someone else's information online without their consent, or it could be someone uploading the next terror attacks on country X.

Overall sounds like it could be a bit of a double-edged sword here. Depends how they go about it. And knowing the EU, probably awfully.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

jimwormold (1451913) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134804)

I may be wrong, but I think you're referring to the Intercept Modernisation Program [openrightsgroup.org] or the "Snooping charter" here in the UK rather than Europe as a whole.

For a country that is apparently crippled with deficit, it's amazing that after having been abandoned by the previous Labour government, it's crept back in, sneekily being announced by the Tories in the spending review a couple of weeks ago. Bear in mind that one of the reasons the previous government abandoned it because it was likely to cost far more than the original £2 billion estimate.

Re:Amazing, and ironic (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135306)

Almost no laws apply to the government which passes them. COPA comes to mind, but pretty much all laws have sovereign exceptions.

Fucking fascists... (1)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134420)

This is how they'll destroy all Internet freedom, with bullshit "positive rights" for users that will turn all Web-sites into government slaves...

Re:Fucking fascists... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134500)

Why do so many people (primarily Americans) equate freedom with freedom for companies to take away freedom of individuals?

Re:Fucking fascists... (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134936)

Because once upon a time, during a period of time called the "Cold War", America stood for individual and corporate freedom against a "Government Run" evil communist empire.

And the mentality of "Better Dead than Red" and "Government Intervention = Evil Commie" seems to be still alive today.

Re:Fucking fascists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134980)

Yes, corporate AND individual freedom... supposedly. But that was not my question. Why do so many people defend the corporate freedom to inhibit personal freedom?

Re:Fucking fascists... (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135244)

Because for some reason, if the government puts his foot in the door, its the first step towards "Socialism" and 'the dark side'.

Corporations will fill the 'leader' voice without any consensus or something like that.

Moroever, when you have large comapnies - they can afford to pay for advertising which turns you towards their side. Do you wonder how many "Obama's Healthcare Plan == Bad" complaints came from (or were backed by) private hospitals and insurance companies?

Re:Fucking fascists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34135254)

By the way, evil? Like Pinochet evil?

Is there is not a central clearing house (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134428)

for deletion requests its as good as not having a law requiring the ability to delete the information.

How does this work with years of backup tapes? (3, Informative)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134458)

This is both a flippant comment AND a real question. It must be very hard to clean up all the data?

Re:How does this work with years of backup tapes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134622)

To be equally flippant back; how is that our problem?

Right (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134468)

the problem starts when a right becomes an obligation, and involves more than just big companies in their own information

I'm confused (1)

Musically_ut (1054312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134472)

My request to delete the request to delete my data is included in my request to delete my data?

Or will it be included in the request to delete my request to delete my request to delete my data?

Just like Google censors results on request of countries, but lets users know that the country has requested the censoring?

Might be difficult in practice (1)

Madsy (1049678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134510)

I praise EU for strengthening consumer laws, but I think this could be difficult to implement, depending on how strict it will be. Surely account information is often backed up by companies. Does this imply that they are forced by law to delete my accounts from backups as well? It sounds like a huge challenge. What if companies restore an old backup, including deleted account information? I'm all for consumer protection, but let's file this together with "company liability for computer software". Both are well meaning, and maybe even "right" in principle, but would have bad effects in practice.

Dilema - how do you anonymise data? (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134518)

If I want to be able to ask companies in the future to delete data about me, that means they have to keep that data clearly labelled as being about me.

Otherwise, they could "anonymise" it by removing my name, but that's not real anonymity. If my mobile phone operator removes my name, but keeps the info about what house Customer0001 spends the night in and what office Customer0001 spend 40 hours of daytime in, Monday to Friday, well, there's only one person in the world that fits Customer0001's profile. :-/

Scientologists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34134524)

... celebrate this announcement.

EU vs UK officials (1)

sosaited (1925622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134526)

Why is it that UK ministers and policy makers keep saying and passing out stupid and lame laws, but EU guys seem to be intelligent and sane when it comes to technology. UK and USA should borrow some people like these from EU.

Wiping data.. (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134558)

This completely destroys the business model of many companies, including some big ones like Google.

this is so stupid (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134568)

if it gets on the internet, it lives forever

this is not a matter of legislation, it is a matter of the nature of the internet

therefore, if you don't want something to be attached to you on the internet, DON'T PUT IT ON THE BLEEPING INTERNET, moron

its not about the policy of one site. there are mirrors and copies and caches, and all sorts of your data mixed up all over the place. not to mention that the bleeping government, who you are asking to protect you(?), is the biggest violator!

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY is the answer. YOU control what gets up there and what doesn't. beyond that, GAME OVER. nobody can save you from your own stupidity except YOU

you can't legislate this issue, and to try reveals a colossal display of ignorance. you can't save people from their ignorant selves: "oh i put it up there but now i don't want it there"

really? good for you. welcome to the internet, moron

Re:this is so stupid (1)

Guybrush_T (980074) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134682)

I would agree that you are responsible for what you put on the internet. Still, what you are calling a "moron" may be more than 50% of internet users. At this level, the responsibility may reside in the big companies that lure masses into their "trap".

Info tech tools could give us MORE privacy (3, Interesting)

guanxi (216397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134582)

Another poster compared privacy today and in the pre-Internet world, which got me to thinking: Until now, innovations in information technology have generally reduced privacy by making it easier, by many orders of magnitude, to copy, distribute, and find information. Any info about you that's on the Web, for example, can be immediately distributed across the world, copied by whoever wants it, and found via Google.

But information technology could also be used to improve our privacy over the pre-Internet world: Encryption, of course, but also anonymization, DRM (for your personal info, such as copy restrictions and expiration dates), and using search engines to automatically find other data, including the pattern recognition engines that can find photos. Some of these could be regulatory requirements (businesses must anonymize personal info as much as possible, must use DRM with copy restrictions and an expiration date, encrypted it, and the business is responsible for monitoring the web for errant copies). Businesses already use these tools to protect their data and online identity; there's no reason private citizens can't use them too.

In some ways, private citizens could have more control, not less, of their privacy and identity if they use the tools in their favor.

Re:Info tech tools could give us MORE privacy (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135436)

But information technology could also be used to improve our privacy over the pre-Internet world

And if the EnCoRe project [encore-project.info] gets its implementation right then we'll have controls that will help even more. It is basically a research project looking at "Ensuring Consent and Revocation" with the ideal of having informed people using certified services that provide certain guarantees about how they deal with, process and dispose of your data.

On the DRM point, I think that it is one of the few places where it is reasonable. DRM on corporate documents and data makes sense - they'll probably already have legal contracts in place to limit what they should do, and the DRM enforces it. Unfortunately it seems to be one of the places where it isn't enforced, probably because companies don't want to end up opening up their DRM servers to the world so that all of their business partners can authenticate against them.

Sounds like the Data Protection Act 1984 (2, Informative)

Duncan J Murray (1678632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134668)

Sounds an awful lot like the uk data protection act of 1984, which applied to all data, written and electronic, held on an individual.

"Personal information may be kept for no longer than is necessary and must be kept up to date."

"Data must not be disclosed to other parties without the consent of the individual about whom it is about..."

"Entities holding personal information are required to have adequate security measures in place. Those include technical measures (such as firewalls) and organisational measures (such as staff training)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Act_1984#History [wikipedia.org]

Looking through the main points of the Act, it makes you wonder why you don't hear more about nefarious data-collecting companies being taken to the courts here in the U.K.

Common names (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134694)

Tip for anyone who will be a parent(cue slashdot sex jokes:P): Pick the absolute most common name for your child. If there is a famous person with your last name, give your child the same first name as the celebrity. If you have a super uncommon last name, use your spouses last name. It's really one of the few ways you can protect your privacy online anymore, ie by making you a needle in a haystack of people with the same name. I know if I have a son I am certainly naming him after an actor that shares the same last name as I do.

So that's socialism? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134710)

The government protects the rights of its citizens against private industry? Sign me up!

Re:So that's socialism? (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34135194)

Woah Woah Woah. You actually like socialism?

You're not being brainwashed enough. Go watch another American-made cold-war film, put on some patriotic speeches and let me not here any nonsense like that again!

</satire>

What's the job market like in the EU? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34134810)

After reading all these new rights the EU is approving, maybe I should move there.
Anybody need an english-speaking engineer? Or maybe a German-to-English translator of written works?
(Maybe the market's no better in the EU than the US?)

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