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'Hidden From Google' Remembers the Sites Google Is Forced To Forget

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the freedom-eagle dept.

Google 163

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Hidden From Google, the brainchild of a web programmer in New Jersey, archives each website that Google is required to take down from European Union search listings thanks to the recent court decision that allows people to request that certain pages be scrubbed from Google's search results if they're outdated or irrelevant. That decision has resulted in takedown requests from convicted sex offenders and huge banking companies, among thousands of others."

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Now we just need a browser plugin... (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | about 5 months ago | (#47452771)

... that takes the info from Hidden From Google and reinserts it back into your searches ;)

Re:Now we just need a browser plugin... (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47452991)

"...reinserts it back into your searches"...at the top of the page.

Sorry but you have to be pedantic when gathering requirements.

Re:Now we just need a browser plugin... (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#47453481)

"...reinserts it back into your searches"...at the top of the page.

Sorry but you have to be pedantic when gathering requirements.

Sorry, but you have to be pernickety when you're aiming for specificity.

Re: Now we just need a browser plugin... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453861)

"...reinserts it back into your searches"...at the top of the page. ...should read:
"...reinserts it into your searches..."

Sorry, you don't need to be redundant to be specific.

Awesome! (3, Interesting)

dskoll (99328) | about 5 months ago | (#47452775)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Re:Awesome! (5, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 5 months ago | (#47452827)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander and lose your career over a lie that is interesting enough to go viral where your vindication isn't and doesn't.

Re:Awesome! (5, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47452935)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander and lose your career over a lie that is interesting enough to go viral where your vindication isn't and doesn't.

THIS. All of the stories on this decision seem to be focusing on people who are clearly bad or did terrible things in the past.

But our modern news and social media society on the internet archives all sorts of crap that isn't actually true, and never was true. But the salacious headline will always draw attention; the minor blurb on the back page will never be remembered when the charges are dropped or the person is acquitted or everyone just admits that it was a mistake.

(Just to be clear: I don't think the EU decision will actually work, and TFA is proof of it. But we do have a real problem -- even if 95% of the claims made so far have been by people who committed horrible bad past acts, the real injustice is to the 5% who just got caught up in media attention for something that turned out not to be true, or even nowhere near as horrible as people claimed.)

Re:Awesome! (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 months ago | (#47453049)

Lets not forget that you don't even need charges.

http://www.cnet.com/news/pirac... [cnet.com]

Something like that could seriously place job promotions or prospects in jeopardy. If could ruin a legitimate business just with the controversy hanging out there associated with the name even though he was vindicated in the end.

Re:Awesome! (4, Insightful)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 5 months ago | (#47454805)

I think the key is that we need to find a balance between the right to privacy and the right to be forgotten.

Ludicrous story in the paper only designed to make headlines by slandering you? Sure, let's forget about
You were charged with a crime but did your time and are back in society? Sure, let's forget about it and let you get back to being a member of society. (Otherwise we might as well just brand criminals on the forehead)
You're a big company that had an oil spill but want to rewrite history? Let's not forget

Re:Awesome! (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#47455115)

OTOH, would you like to work for people who believe everything they read on the internet?

Re:Awesome! (2)

Megol (3135005) | about 5 months ago | (#47455381)

You know that covers near 100% of all people? Yes including you!

Re:Awesome! (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47455499)

...which would be moot were it not for the Google-as-address-bar phenomenon where casual users treat Google like it's the whole internet. Google made this mess for themselves when they became the defacto way of finding things online; they're the internet's index, and editorial decisions they make - even algorithmically - are now part of the infrastructure.

Re:Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453081)

> I don't think the EU decision will actually work, and TFA is proof of it.

The goal of the EU ruling is not to erase the stories from the net. It is simply to make it harder to find, If the goal were to erase, they would require the site actually hosting the story to take it down, not just remove the entry in google's database.

It used to be that we had a form of privacy due to our data being hard to find. Property ownership records in a cabinet at the local tax assessor's office, arrest records at the country jail, birth, death, marriage records at the town, etc. The information was still public but the effort required to access it was a significant barrier to abuse. It was a good trade-off between making the information public and protecting privacy.

The EU is trying to approximate that balance. All the people who complain that it won't "work" are defining the problem wrong. It isn't a situation where black or white will work, but grey might.

Re:Awesome! (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47453215)

> I don't think the EU decision will actually work, and TFA is proof of it.

The goal of the EU ruling is not to erase the stories from the net. It is simply to make it harder to find

Were you responding to me? If so, note I never claimed the goal was to "erase stories from the net." I simply said that it "won't work," and by that I mean it won't do very well at achieving its goal, which -- as you correctly note -- is to make stuff harder to locate.

The EU is trying to approximate that balance. All the people who complain that it won't "work" are defining the problem wrong. It isn't a situation where black or white will work, but grey might.

See, here's the problem. If TFA works, we basically have a database to find everything people have registered to be "forgotten." As I said, if this site continues to exist, then the EU ruling is ineffective: it only managed to get rid of some search engine links, while also facilitating a system where people who want to do even casual actual background checks know the second place to go. In effect, it makes it easier to find, if someone puts forth just a step beyond the minimal effort.

For people who actually care about finding the details of someone's reputation, the ruling may thus make it easier to find information someone really wants hidden... which seems to be the opposite of the EU goal.

Re:Awesome! (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453631)

Unless the EU goal was only to add more regulations on top of the regulations they already had. Sometimes, I am convinced that the sole "goal" of a bureaucracy is to increase itself, regardless.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453703)

For people who actually care about finding the details of someone's reputation, the ruling may thus make it easier to find information someone really wants hidden.

The success of that is in your own words - "who actually care" - it is about curtailing the casual, not stopping the determined. In the past, the determined could get all they needed by hoofing it to each brick-and-mortar data silo. Yes it is now easier for the determined, but it is harder for the casual. That's a win if you understand their goals.

Wrong fix to the Wrong problem! (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453955)

We already have laws to protect the innocent under most conditions. Slander, Libel, and defamation did not vanish when the Internet popped up. They are harder to enforce, sure, but they did not go away.

In the case of your 5% innocence (which is as useless as most other statistics in my opinion) any of those people could have sued the source for damages. If found guilty, sources are forced to change or amend content and generally issue public apology.

This "forget me" law does not do anything to address the root problem. How does someone in the US sue someone in German for libel, or visa-versa? They don't, or at least common people could never afford to do so.

The other point to mention is probably more important. This law was never described as a means for individuals to prune their personal history. The law was intended to prevent bad information from remaining prevalent on the Internet. Such as bad science that had been discounted (not just from conspiracy sites, but that was a large portion of the case "for" this law.

The way it has been implemented, it has a gaping loophole allowing abuse by individuals. Laws that suck should not be passed, but, people keep on believing the bullshit bureaucrats tell them.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#47454333)

Even if people committed a crime, is it sensible to go all Javert on their asses? If they're still in prison, it's probably not really serving any purpose. If they're not, it seems the state found that they deserve another chance at life. Who are you to deny them this chance?

Re:Awesome! (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 5 months ago | (#47455359)

Well let's see we have a story of discrimination and injustice:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]

underworked employees:
http://www.theguardian.com/art... [theguardian.com]

These aren't all people who screw up and want a second chance, it's factual information about companies actual business practices in some cases.

Re:Awesome! (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#47455039)

"THIS. All of the stories on this decision seem to be focusing on people who are clearly bad or did terrible things in the past."

Exactly.

People on Slashdot are quick to slap down politicians who use the "think of the children!" argument and cry "paedophile!" when they want justification for their bullshit, yet it seems to go completely undetected when Slashdot does the exact same thing:

"That decision has resulted in takedown requests from convicted sex offenders and huge banking companies, among thousands of others.""

So it's okay to cry sex offender and so forth when it suits or what? There is absolutely zero balance in this wording, it's about as loaded a statement as you can get. Not only does it use shock terms like "sex offender" it also simply says it has resulted in take down notices. This doesn't mean that any of them were actually adhered to, if Google is adhering to take down notices from huge banking companies then it's doing it wrong because companies aren't protected by the European Data Protection Directive which is what this law is about. Only private individuals are, and even then not if there is a clear public interest in keeping the data up (i.e. a corrupt politician).

So, dear Slashdot, please don't resort to the same type of shit I'd expect from a corrupt or ignorant politician and Fox News, it's not helpful. I guess it may not completely be Slashdot's fault beyond their usual failure to edit. I guess it could be that the submitter is just a complete idiot, but all the same, not here please, if I wanted biased idiocy I'd go straight to Fox, The Daily Mail or The Register or something equally full of mindless incorrect dross.

Like most stories, there are two sides to this one.

Re:Awesome! (2)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 5 months ago | (#47452987)

And by all means, create a law to deal with that specifically. Just don't create a law that does that, AND is open for abuse by people simply looking bury their mistakes like they never happened.

Re:Awesome! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47453045)

What was wrong with the existing legal remedies?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 5 months ago | (#47453335)

You mean other than the fact they're a complete joke?

Re:Awesome! (3, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#47453399)

You mean other than the fact they're a complete joke?

Even if you believe that the be the case, how does another complete joke of a law fix anything?

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453451)

Who said the law was intended to actually fix anything?

This whole situation is a distractoin - it's a fake front to fix a fake problem that people that don't understand technology think needs to be fixed. And we will just add continuing layers of distraction until, like Law, Business, and Finances most people can't understand it and just stop caring. They will absolutely stifle us with ridiculousnous until we give up. That's how they work.

[dons tinfoil hat]

Re:Awesome! (1)

Megol (3135005) | about 5 months ago | (#47455439)

It can make things more difficult to find - which in itself can help. If an employer doesn't get the false rumors that you are a pedophile spammed at the top of the search listings maybe you can get the job? Maybe if the girl that once sent a nude picture to her boyfriend doesn't have her name associated with (false) links of teenage prostitution can get the teacher position she wants?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Megol (3135005) | about 5 months ago | (#47455423)

Except that they don't work? Are you aware of how many teenagers* have nude photos spread thorough the Internet often with attached names and living addresses? Photos they themselves haven't spread? Photos and made up offerings for free sex? Are you aware that this can be plastered all over the Internet on different sites located in different countries and even different protocols - making it essentially impossible to remove?

(* I don't think this is only bad for teenagers but it is more obviously wrong)

Re:Awesome! (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 5 months ago | (#47453287)

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander...

The words are nothing. You would be a victim of those who believed them. Everybody wags the dog in this argument.

Re:Awesome! (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#47453519)

Agree, but fixing the root cause of this is MUCH harder than removing some search results.

Heck, getting gay marriage legalized is probably an easier cultural change than getting people to treat information they hear with appropriate skepticism and giving people a chance. Actually, if we could fix that then getting gay marriage legalized would be a simple follow-on...

Re:Awesome! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453847)

Businesses shouldn't be using the Internet to do checks on applicants. All that should matter is if they can do the job, and any criminal activity they may have been convicted of within the past 10 years.

Someone having sex on a crowded train shouldn't matter. What should matter is if they were convicted of said crime within the previous 10 years, and if they're applying for certain jobs where such actions speak to their character--train conductor.

Just because someone commits a crime or does an ill-deed, doesn't mean they should end up jobless and homeless on the street.

MAKE IT ILLEGAL for businesses to use certain resources in determine job eligibility, loan qualifications, etc.

And for goodness sake, there's something called a retraction! News article got something wrong? Have them print a retraction or sue them for defemation.

Re:Awesome! (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 5 months ago | (#47454317)

Businesses shouldn't be using the Internet to do checks on applicants. All that should matter is if they can do the job, and any criminal activity they may have been convicted of within the past 10 years.

Someone having sex on a crowded train shouldn't matter. What should matter is if they were convicted of said crime within the previous 10 years, and if they're applying for certain jobs where such actions speak to their character--train conductor.

Just because someone commits a crime or does an ill-deed, doesn't mean they should end up jobless and homeless on the street.

MAKE IT ILLEGAL for businesses to use certain resources in determine job eligibility, loan qualifications, etc.

And for goodness sake, there's something called a retraction! News article got something wrong? Have them print a retraction or sue them for defemation.

So you solved the employment problem.

Now what about the neighbour problem? I mean, you move into a new house in a nice neighbourhood, and one of the neighbours Googles you and finds you did something unsavory. Perhaps it was urinating in public. Or maybe it was a nasty divorce. Or perhaps you have a DUI.

Well geez, now your neighbours starts spreading rumors and you're persona non grata in what is otherwise a nice neighbourhood. Perhaps one of them finds their lawn gnome stolen. Who's blamed? You. This is a VERY annoying way to live one's life, and the only way out is to move.

Hell, any crimes of a sexual nature are "guilty". There's no innocence to prove - you will NEVER be found innocent even if the legal system says you're innocent.

As for retractions - have you actually seen one? They're usually on the bottom of the page in a tiny corner of the page. Anyone searching is more likely to find the retracted article than the retraction. Even if they post a "This article has been retracted and is presented here for archival purposes. The retraction notice is here" link at the top.

Oh, and 10 year old convictions? With Google, it doesn't matter it happened 10 years ago and you've gone clean. Think about it - if the only bad thing that went public was something 20 years ago, Google's going to bring it up as if it was new and fresh because that's all the information it has on you.

If you want to know what "brand management" companies do, it's just that - making old stuff disappear by making more news that buries the old items that are no longer relevant. It's the only way to "hide" old stuff.

And that's the real problem with the internet - it's got an infallible memory and if the only things it knows about you are bad things that happened decades earlier, that's what the internet will bring up on you. So either you have to exercise "Right to be forgotten" because it's no longer relevant, or you have to brand manage and SEO your way to hide that stuff from years ago by burying it under mountains of new news.

Re:Awesome! (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47454373)

Well, any article of the kind you are talking about includes details such as dates so anybody reading such articles will see how long ago that was and notice that nothing else came up so that is also informing them that you have changed and are no longer "behaving improperly." Or are you one of those that is just so much smarter than everyone else that you assume nobody would think that way?

Re: Awesome! (1)

Teranolist (3658793) | about 5 months ago | (#47455135)

Your statement requires that the general reader thinks about this factors, if he reads the date of the news at all...

Re: Awesome! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455239)

So if it's a problem with the reader, then why do we blame the technology and demand that Google start censoring its search results upon request?

Re: Awesome! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#47455369)

And that was the whole point of my post [slashdot.org] in the first place.

We can't fix the reader, so we fix the technology since it is something we actually can fix.

Re:Awesome! (1)

grahamm (8844) | about 5 months ago | (#47454991)

The problem with retractions should be easier to deal with in the online domain than in print. Make it a rule that whenever an article which is subject to a retraction is requested that the retraction is automatically, and prominently, included in the page served.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#47455385)

MAKE IT ILLEGAL for businesses to use certain resources in determine job eligibility, loan qualifications, etc.

How does one prove that a business used those resources to make those determinations?

If I send out a job application I don't get a letter back saying, "thank you for your job application - we wanted to hire you but the manager didn't like the color of your hair." I simply don't get a response, or if I do it doesn't speak to whether any determinations were made, or at most simply states that I wasn't the best candidate for the job.

Ditto when losing a job - they just say that they no longer require your services.

Companies learned a LONG time ago that if they don't say anything, you don't have anything to sue them over.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455551)

That get lumps in with the "it wasn't because you're black or a woman" category. It's a problem with society we're going to have to fight one step at a time.

Re:Awesome! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47454905)

Okay, let's take a real-world example. Mr. Salim Zakhrouf, listed on the site in relation to this [dailymail.co.uk] story about him being racially discriminated against. When he is looking for another job and someone Google's his name, that story is quite likely to be the top result. Considering the guy has already been the victim of racial discrimination and decided to fight back I can see a lot of cowardly employers not wanting to give him an interview.

There is nothing wrong with the story, except that it mentions him by name which is somewhat unnecessary, but basically it's fine (I know, shocking when the source is the Daily Mail). I rally don't see the harm in protecting him and his job prospects by removing the result for the very specific search of his name. He isn't a public figure, he hasn't done anything wrong himself.

Re:Awesome! (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 5 months ago | (#47455383)

Actually cowardly employers aware of hist history would give HIM and interview, because he clearly will report abuse.

His name is a relevant "factoid" because he was denied and interview when he used his "muslim sounding" name, but granted an interview (and offered a job) when he sent the same resume with an "english sounding" name.

I don't think he asked to remove the story. I think Cathay Pacific did because the story (rightfully) makes them look like they have a bigoted hiring practice.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453357)

I'm guessing 99% of the requests were from Justin Bieber then.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453637)

A censor is someone who knows more than he thinks you should.

These "forget me" requests are censorship, plain and simple.

The fact that some people might be harmed by lies spread on the internet does not justify censorship, and it especially does not justify the censorship of relevant and pertinent data that might be embarrassing to those in power (which is exactly how this law will be abused). The right answer is a cultural adjustment that involves a healthy distrust of slanderous statements found on the Internet.

Censorship is the last thing we need.

Re:Awesome! (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47453771)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander and lose your career over a lie that is interesting enough to go viral where your vindication isn't and doesn't.

In other news, life sucks for the rest of us to.
Can we make it illegal for ice cream to make me fat while we're at it?

Re:Awesome! (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47453783)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander and lose your career over a lie that is interesting enough to go viral where your vindication isn't and doesn't.

Hey shieldw0lf! If you're not careful about these sort of comments you'll get Santorum'd.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Baki (72515) | about 5 months ago | (#47454523)

Victims of slander should have the origin removed, not the index by google or others.
It was wrong to put the burden on google and other search indexes, and it will fail.
This site just proves that this method of "forgetting" will fail.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455131)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

Perhaps you'll be the victim of slander and lose your career over a lie that is interesting enough to go viral where your vindication isn't and doesn't.

Perhaps you'll realise the bigger a deal you make out of it the more interested other people will be. If you're a victim of slander then there's things you can do. It might suck hard at the time but once it's all done and dusted let it settle and don't keep kicking it back up which is what these people do. There's so much crap on the internet and so many people in the world, how long do you really think they're going to give a shit? Are you also going to destroy any newspaper archive mentioning certain things?

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455601)

If my refudiation of the slander doesn't rise to the top of the search list then it's probably a poorly-designed search engine that nobody's using anyway. If I felt it was important enough, I'd sue them to push my refudiation/vindication to the top of the search. I wouldn't be stupid enough to ask them to remove the slander in the first place, because censorship doesn't really work against false charges. Only the truth does.

Re:Awesome! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 months ago | (#47452879)

The vast majority of people will not know or remember to check that site out. At least not for a few years until someone shows them the 15th time. And it needs a path to search when submissions start adding up.

But it sort of is redundant if your searching wide enough. For instance, Dr. Adam Osborne requested something to be forgotten. [express.co.uk] but if I search for George Osborne Islam [lmgtfy.com] , the story comes up in third result with the first two being about getting Google to hide it.

So as long as enough details are known about what you are searching, I think the entire forget me thing is defeated before it starts.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453211)

If you already know what the person wants to be forgotten, then what use is hiding it exactly? The goal here is to remove the results from the default results list so that people that don't already know about it won't get it as the first results and get a bad impression of the person.

Re:Awesome! (2)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453655)

Yeah, because it sucks when people base their impression of you based on things you actually did.

Re:Awesome! (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453649)

What an awesome example of 1) why the law is being used other than what it was advertised for and 2) why the law doesn't matter. Every time some one asks for an article, etc. to be un-indexed, an article gets written detailing that request and that article then gets indexed in a never ending cycle. Next we'l be having people demanding that NSLs be used for the un-indexing.

Re:Awesome! (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 5 months ago | (#47455391)

Are you searching from Europe or the US?

Re:Awesome! (0)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 5 months ago | (#47452957)

This is actually really cool. It has real Streisand Effect potential.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453351)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

In a similar vein, we've ensured that leaked picture of your case of genital warts that you had taken down gets prominently republished next to your name, photo, age, race, marital status, sexuality, political preferences, full details of every time you got in trouble as a teenager, and all the other information you had worried people might use to discriminate against you. Because after all, rights to privacy and non-harrassment, and the ability to move on from your past, are as nothing compared to the sheer geeky titillation of watching someone's privacy be destroyed.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#47453353)

People would be better off "not existing" as a real identity in the first place, then they wouldn't have to worry about forget-me requests.

Paging Babs (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 5 months ago | (#47453449)

Barbara Streisand to the white courtesy phone.

Re:Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453761)

I hope this makes people think twice before filing a forget-me request. It ensures they'll be remembered.

I hope this makes people think twice about how these kinds of laws get through the EU in the first place. Powerful people want to be forgotten. You have now prevented that.

Good luck there, Jersey boy. You're gonna need more than a compiler and ad revenue to get out of this one. You just made a shitload of the wrong kind of enemies.

This guy is going to be so rich (3)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | about 5 months ago | (#47452797)

He will do great - right up until he is sued into oblivion.

Re:This guy is going to be so rich (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 5 months ago | (#47452843)

He better not have any money in reach of EU courts.

Re:This guy is going to be so rich (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#47455079)

I suspect there's potential he may even be targetable in US courts depending on the search record in question.

If Google has been asked to remove data that is simply incorrect and defamatory through this process and not just true but out of date, then he'll likely be making himself liable to be sued for libel under existing US libel laws in libel courts.

If he wants to do this safely he needs to make sure he's not breaking US law, and knowingly posting defamatory information is what he'll be doing unless he's checking each entry on it's merits as to whether it's simply falling foul of the relevance clause of EU law, or whether it's under the libel clause of both EU and US law. Libel is one area where even the 1st amendment can't protect you.

Re:This guy is going to be so rich (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455633)

He's not breaking any laws, US or European.

* The pages have not been requested to be taken down, just removed from Google's index. If the pages are still on the web, they are there to be linked to.
* No obligation has been placed on anyone other than Google to remove links to the pages. Anyone else is free to link to those pages.
* There is nothing illegal about noting the fact that Google has been requested to remove links to those pages. Additional legislation would be required to place some sort of blanket ban on mentioning pages which Google had been requested to remove from their index, and it would be insane to go to that length while still not requiring the actual pages in question to be taken down.

The Streisand Effect (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47452805)

The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

Re:The Streisand Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453421)

I remember hearing about that many years ago.
Anyway, for those who prefer a clickable hyperlink:
Wikipedia's article for "Streisand Effect" [wikipedia.org] .

This was related to Barbara Streisand who objected to the loss of privacy when some information was being gathered about properties on the coastline. She tried to get such information removed. However, more people ended up hearing about the story because of the actions that she took.

Let me guess: (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#47452807)

StreisandEffect.com ?

Re:Let me guess: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47452841)

I wonder if most people even remember why it's called the Streisand effect.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the term became so common that people actually forget why it was named after Streisand?

Re:Let me guess: (5, Funny)

gargleblast (683147) | about 5 months ago | (#47452973)

I can see the headlines now: Barbara Streisand sues for trademark dilution.

Misleading (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453001)

> That decision has resulted in takedown requests from convicted sex offenders and huge banking companies,

Note that those are requests, not actual removals.
The law has a very broad public-interest exception, none of those requests will pass muster under the law.

In fact, the recent hoohaw about google delisting certain newspaper articles was ended when Google admitted that those delistings were not consistent with the law. [theguardian.com]

WayBackMachine.org (2)

MindPrison (864299) | about 5 months ago | (#47453051)

Has it all anyway.

Re:WayBackMachine.org (4, Insightful)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about 5 months ago | (#47454721)

No they don't. They remove plenty of sites from their archive. It even makes /. headlines occasionally.

Mod parent up (4, Insightful)

amaurea (2900163) | about 5 months ago | (#47455299)

Indeed. WayBackMachine respects robots.txt retroactively, which is insane in my opinion, because it means what WayBackMachine says the web looked like in, say 1999, can change at any moment. For example, if WayBackMachine has 10 years of archived data for a site which then comes under new management that decides it wants to erase that history, they can just put up a robots.txt on the current site, and WayBackMachine will not only stop serving the current version of the site, it will also stop serving all the previous ten years of data. This happened to the original jumptheshark.com, for example.

It was bound to happen (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 5 months ago | (#47453083)

I feel sorry for those who legitimately should have stories removed. Falsely accused, slandered, etc. Though if the site takes the time to put the truthful rebuttals up front it would mitigate that.
For those legitimately outed I have no sympathy. With one exception: someone whose criminal record has been expunged. That is a legal proceeding, which carries weight. Of course the site owner opens himself and the site to prosecution for slander. Forget international borders, someone anywhere in the world can sue you in the US for slander.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

towermac (752159) | about 5 months ago | (#47453253)

"With one exception: someone whose criminal record has been expunged."

What about somebody whose done his time? Not falsely accused; did the crime, and the time. Several years in prison let's say.

What more does he owe us? I'd kind of like to see him free and clear. But his criminal record is stuck to him... forever I guess. I'm just asking.

What about the story about a guy that got his criminal record expunged? What about the archived footage from WHAM13 Live or whatever of the cops showing up that day long ago when he was arrested? Can that be expunged too? and the comments? and blogs or whatever the kids are using nowadays...

Maybe things used to be expungable, but it's going to be pretty hard to do that going forward. In fact, that might have happened already.

I think maybe we thought we were in the Information Age, and we weren't really yet, and this is a peek into what that really means.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453671)

Well, you see, the person who has things legally expunged gets the nice piece of paper saying that it was expunged and has some accompanying paperwork saying why and all that. All that actually holds far more weight than stuff on the internet. At least, in my particular area of reality, it does anyway.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 5 months ago | (#47453979)

For the guy that's done time. Most likely he has to admit he has.
For the average person caught in this, this isn't likely to make a big difference. They can't afford the costs of trying to have their records hidden. And for the most part, no one cares, beyond the obvious.
This is about RICH, WEALTHY, individuals who have been reasonably damned, and want to hide it.
Can't sue for slander in the US if it's true.
The EU seems to have a different opinion of past records.
Not that it really maters. The EU ban only applies to EU sites. Simple enough to proxy around to get the details. It only deters the casual browser.

It's a brave new world. Despite some country's laws, you don't have the right to be forgotten. Until every country enacts such laws, you're out.
There are other similar battles, will be interesting to see which island wins.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

Vapula (14703) | about 5 months ago | (#47454927)

In Belgium, you have a "certificate of good living and behaving" (approximate translation) that can be requested when you want to get a job.

Teachers (and other people who have to work with children) have to give a special version of that document. At first, it included some (very) invasive background checks (in the neighbourhood for example), now, it has been trimmed down... But if you've been a sex offender (or some other severe criminal records) in the past, you won't get it, even if you've had your records cleaned.

In about any countries, if you want some "top secret" accreditation, I don't think that it matters if your criminal records have been purged or the time has been served...

In these specific situation, there are no right to be forgotten...

Another problem may arise when the offender is minor (less than 18 years)... All records are hidden... I know of some school director (he explained this to me directly, it's not some vague rumor) who got a child put in his school by a court... He didn't know why (records sealed because it was a minor)... Until that guy did it again, in his new school... He was assaulting (sexually) younger children !!! But no way for the school to prevent it as they weren't allowe'd to know in the first place.

So, I think that for criminal offenses, there should NOT be a right to be forgotten... Minor offenses don't make it to the news anyway... Same for bad records related to the profession.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453877)

This whole thing is rediculous, as this site points out.

There may well be reasons why material should be taken off the internet, but that involves the site which host such content not the search engines which index it. Google is just saying, truthfully, that a site exists with certain content. If you don't like the content address that witht the site which suppies it.

Re:It was bound to happen (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 5 months ago | (#47454143)


The site owner should be responsible, not the search engines who don't host the content.

Re:It was bound to happen (2)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#47455103)

The site owner is responsible, but some sites have exemptions for processing data - i.e. we don't want newspapers scrubbed clean to change history. In this case newspapers have defence as being guardians of public record. Google does not have that exemption.

Should it have that exemption? Maybe. Maybe that'll come about in the 2012 European Data Protection Directive refresh that is still being worked on, but Google needs to argue it's case there, not just flout the law as it stands.

Fundamentally the problem is that data protection applies to all organisation with only a handful of exemptions (law enforcement, public record) and currently Google does not fall under one of those exemptions. You can go after the source in Europe if it doesn't fall under some exemption, but if it does all you can do is go after those that don't have an exemption, and Google is one of those that don't because search isn't a protected business activity right now.

When is it appropriate to forget a conviction? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453145)

It looks like at least some convicted persons are obtaining their "right to be forgotten" before even completing their sentence.

For example, "Manuel Abrantes" was convicted to five years and nine months for pedophilia and other crimes on September 3, 2010, according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] Adding that up, Mr. Abrantes wouldn't have completed serving his sentence until June, 2015 - but it's already time that his offense should be forgotten?!? "Carlos Silvino" was convicted to eighteen years in the same case.

A search for these names on google.co.uk shows the tell-tale language: "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe."

It seems to me that the above phrase may itself turn into a "Scarlet Letter" of sorts, causing searchers to use alternative search engines or simply use google.com instead of google.co.uk, for example, to dig in an find the items that the person named was making an effort to hide.

As a United-Statesian, I'm used to the idea that a conviction for that sort of criminal activity is typically treated as data that follows a person around for the rest of their lives - perhaps a European can tell us when it's considered appropriate to forget about a convicted sex offenders offenses?

Personally, I was expecting Google to add a specific link to the request to remove search results in a similar way to the mechanism that Google uses for DMCA take-down notices, where following the link takes you to chillingeffects.org which shows the DMCA letter - most conveniently lists all the URL's that a publisher is asking Google to remove.

Re:When is it appropriate to forget a conviction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47454945)

perhaps a European can tell us when it's considered appropriate to forget about a convicted sex offenders offenses?

Your conviction is stored by the police and will show up in a criminal record check forever [yahoo.com] ,

But as that page points out "It is highly sensitive personal information and cannot be shared with anyone in the business that does not need to know as part of their role."

In particular there is no reason that it should be available to the public through a web search.

Re:When is it appropriate to forget a conviction? (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#47455099)

You shouldn't assume that because Google has removed a record that someone has a legal right to be forgotten.

Google is intentionally fucking around with removals because it's pissed off at the court ruling, so it's trying to make as much of a mockery as it can without falling foul of the law.

That means it's removing cases where there is clear public interest defence, because it wants to make a point.

Which is one of the reasons having market monopolies is bad. Because Google has a search engine monopoly it can fuck around with results to suit it's political agenda. In a truly competitive market this would hurt it because other engines would keep the public interest stuff and only remove the legit stuff.

Given this, I would suggest that rather than going to .com instead of .co.uk you just go to a different search engine altogether - one that doesn't manipulate results to suit it's political agenda which is exactly what Google is doing here.

There is absolutely no reason someone convicted of a serious crime 5 years ago would have their conviction considered spent. Even public bankruptcy records can be used by credit rating agencies up to 7 years after the event.

Only minor crimes have shorter periods, such as speeding which I believe is about 3 years normally.

This is Google playing politics, and not a problem with European law stating that people still serving sentences can have their crimes forgotten or anything stupid like that.

In an alternate universe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453159)

In an alternate universe much like our own, I invite you to contemplate how the press would react to a white first-term Senator from Chicago, IL, who was proposing to run for President, who had these matters to be accounted for:

-- His ties to a sleazy felon and fixer who had "assisted" him in buying a lavish mansion, said fixer taking a loss on the deal

-- A wife who worked for a local hospital where her role was to find ways to dump lower-income, uninsured, lower-profit African-American patients off onto other medical centers

-- Worshipped for years at a church which had an explicitly stated racially "white" theological underpinning, and whose pastor damned America from the pulpit

-- Helped privatize local housing projects, handing them over to people who were major campaign contributors of his, and having the housing fall into horrible disrepair afterward, including black families living in unheated apartments with broken windows through brutal Chicago winters

Of course, the press would have gone into utter ballistic cyclonic shitstorm mode if any white candidate had been linked to any of these things, much less to ALL of them, and more yet.

But it is true that Obama has been treated differently on account of his race.

That is, he has been treated far, far, far more _leniently_ than a white candidate of comparable background would ever have been treated. And that leniency and special pleading that he was extended as a candidate has now been allowed to extend through six years as President.

Re:In an alternate universe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453195)

But but but, he's the smartest man in the room!

His IQ is so high it CANNOT BE MEASURED!

How dare you spread such lies about the great king and lord Obahhhmaahhhh.

MMM mmm MMM, Barack Hussien Obama
MMM mmm MMM, Barack Hussien Obama
MMM mmm MMM, Barack Hussien Obama

Great (1)

antitaxes (3747067) | about 5 months ago | (#47453207)

An expunged conviction is still factually something that happened. Under the First Amendment, it's never libel to state a true statement of fact. If the matter is of public concern, the plaintiff in any defamation action must prove that the statement was false. And if the plaintiff is a public figure knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for truth must be proven. In addition to the robust First Amendment protection of free speech, there is 230 of the CDA, the federal Speech Act barring enforcement of most foreign libel judgments and local anti-SLAPP laws. I really can't see any ground for any legal action in the US that would be consistent with the First Amendment. Also courts have held that the First Amendment does not permit liability for republishing facts of old expunged convictions.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453397)

The European Union doesn't care about our First Amendment or our libel laws, or any of that. They're not part of the USA.

Re:Great (1)

CrAlt (3208) | about 5 months ago | (#47453505)

Well good thing this guy lives in NJ.

Re:Great (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 5 months ago | (#47453701)

But that doesn't matter. It is only wrong when the US expects other countries to help enforce American law and it is just as wrong when the US fails to help other countries enforce their laws. How could someone with a 4-digit UID not have figured out that simple /. rule?

go after the main article then, not Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47453279)

If it's legitimate slander, then go after the people publishing it, not a search engine.

If you can't get the original article taken down, then you have no business trying to get search engines to forget it.

Will Google visit his site? (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#47453319)

What happens when Google visits his site? Is that another take down request? I see the possibility of infinite recursion here.

Re:Will Google visit his site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47454861)

if they are competent they have a "no google allowed" in their robots.txt. If google is competent, they remove their site withoutn that sign. I'd bet on the latter ;-)

Re:Will Google visit his site? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47455505)

That's Google's problem. If they didn't want to deal with the social issues of becoming the internet's de facto official directory, they shouldn't have made themselves the internet's de facto official directory.

1st Amendment (1)

FuzzMaster (596994) | about 5 months ago | (#47453723)

Freedom of speech and of the press guarantee the right to publish FACTUAL reports regarding events, current or historical. In the absence of misrepresentation of the facts, there's no reason that these articles should be "erased" from Google's search index. Of course, even with the erasure, other sources will rise to provide this information, e.g., this new site.

Perfect domain name for this: (0)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 5 months ago | (#47454145)

streisandeffect.com

I predicted this (0)

penguinoid (724646) | about 5 months ago | (#47454625)

10 days ago, I wondered [slashdot.org] how long it would take someone to make a website to anti-censor google. I guess I got my answer.

Only certain search words, not entire pages? (1)

opine (3682421) | about 5 months ago | (#47454873)

I believed the requests were only to remove certain key words? So if someone puts up an article about Forest Whitaker and Battlefield Earth, F.W. could get his name removed from the search results in that context. However, the original article would still contain his name, and you could still find the article if searching for Battlefield Earth.

Re:Only certain search words, not entire pages? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 months ago | (#47455479)

It's not even keyword based, it's just based on a URL.

For example, if you see a Google search result links to a URL that breaches the European Data Protection Directive relating to your personal data you can simply ask them to de-index that URL. You can't ask them to censor certain keyword combinations, that's not how it work.

Solution (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#47455117)

Change your name into John Smith.

Alternative solution: use your own name in so many different and unrelated places on the internet, that people must believe there is at least 2 or more of you with the same name.

But why? (1)

osiaq (2495684) | about 5 months ago | (#47455517)

I cant find a single example how this can be helpful, not harmful

DOXBIN! KILL IT WITH FIRE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47455613)

and what about fucking.... fucked up... fucking insane...

DOXBIN?

google isn't doing a damn _thing_ about doxbin! google caches and serves thousands of social security numbers, stolen cc #'s by caching

DOXBIN... now through the truly evil darktor.com servers....

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