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On Forgetting the Facts: Questions From the EU For Google, Other Search Engines

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the here's-a-description-of-the-thing-you-want-undescribed dept.

Censorship 186

The Wall Street Journal lists 26 questions that Google and other search providers have been asked (in a meeting in Brussels earlier this week) to answer for EU regulators, to pin down what the search engine companies have done to comply with European demands to implement a "right to be forgotten." Some questions were asked directly of representatives of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, while the regulators want answers to the others in short order. From the article: Regulators touched on some hot-button issues in six oral questions and another 26 written ones, with answers due by next Thursday. They asked Google to describe the “legal basis” of its decision to notify publishers when it approves right-to-be-forgotten requests, something that has led to requesters’ being publicly identified in some cases. They also asked search engines to explain where they take down the results, after complaints from some regulators that Google does not filter results on google.com. That means that anyone in Europe can switch from, say, google.co.uk to Google.com to see any removed links. Among the questions: "2. Do you filter out some requests based on the location, nationality, or place of residence of the data subject? If so, what is the legal basis for excluding such requests?" and "16. Does your company refuse requests when the data subject was the author of the information he/she posted himself/herself on the web? If so, what is the basis for refusing such requests?"

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Slippery Slope (3, Interesting)

CaptQuark (2706165) | about 4 months ago | (#47541513)

This is a very slippery slope. Trying to balance the rights of individuals to remove incorrect information about themselves and trying to remove unflattering information about themselves. Having a process to verify the individual, the reasons for wanting the information removed, and is the public interest best served by removing the information.

I'm sure there are many public figures that would love a chance to remove some of the news items about themselves.

~~

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 4 months ago | (#47541529)

The European courts have set a precedent on the basis that the number of cases would be small, and that living people would thus be available to conduct detailed research on each one.

Naturally Google have been hit with something like 250,000 requests because of course people are trying to have every bit of material about them removed. And by people of course, it's a surprising number of lawyers, CEOs and companies.

Re:Slippery Slope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541569)

> surprising number of lawyers, CEOs and companies.

And child molesters. Most of the requests have been from their kind. That is why the Republicans here support this so hard.

Re:Slippery Slope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541613)

> surprising number of lawyers, CEOs and companies.

And child molesters. Most of the requests have been from their kind. That is why the Republicans here support this so hard.

And don't forget the rapists and murderers. That is why the Democrats here support this so hard too.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47542251)

And people ask me why I consider it immoral to vote...

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 months ago | (#47542491)

And people ask me why I consider it immoral to vote...

Because you'd prefer a King who rules by Divine Right and doesn't need to try to hide his misdeeds, since there's nothing you can do about them anyway? Or are an anarchist who thinks any kind of governance is a bad thing?

The choices are unelected leaders, elected leaders or no leaders. If you find electing them immoral, then one of the others must, in your opinion, be a superior choice, since picking the best available option isn't immoral. So which one is it?

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Arker (91948) | about 4 months ago | (#47542573)

"The choices are unelected leaders, elected leaders or no leaders. "

That's not actually an exhaustive list to start with, and even if it were it still conceals differences. Perhaps it does not matter so much exactly how the 'leaders' are chosen, but instead their competence, loyalty, and relationship with the law? Perhaps even more important than their personal properties are the properties of the office itself, as Lord Acton observed?

The kings were filthy thugs, but they never dreamed of being able to visit the sort of horror on their 'subjects' that modern states have visited on their supposed citizens, in e.g. Nazi Germany, the USSR, Turkey, and many other places over the last 200 years. They simply did not have that kind of power.

Re: Slippery Slope (0)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47541793)

Surprising??? You must not read the news much!

Re:Slippery Slope (4, Informative)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47541571)

Know what else is a slippery slope? This [pcmag.com] .

According to Reuters, one topic of conversation will be the fact that results are only censored on European versions of Google, like Google.co.uk. So EU Web users can simply go to Google.com for full results, which some argue defeats the purpose of the ruling.

So, Europe would like to be able to affect what everyone sees, not just what Europe sees. I understand the need for privacy, but how certain are we that this won't devolve into plain old censorship? Are there some case histories that have been problematic that we should be aware of? The EU seems to have Google in their sights, but I'm not sure what Google did to get them quite so riled up. I remember Google's accidental collection of wifi info (the more cynical may put "accidental" in quotes, but it looked rather inadvertent to me. Besides which, the data was in the clear to begin with). Then there's the anti-trust issue, if I recall correctly, which I never quite understood either.

Have there been other incidents? Why the hell do they hate Google so much? I'm not exactly a Google fanboy myself, but it's probably good for Microsoft and Apple to have some serious competition.

Re:Slippery Slope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541601)

So, Europe would like to be able to affect what everyone sees, not just what Europe sees.

Another interpretation would be that they expect companies which operate in the EU* to follow EU laws, not just pay lip service while ignoring them in reality. Why would Google be exempt from the "right to be forgotten" on non-EU domains? If they ran a site that hosted snuff films, would it be legal as long as it was on a domain name in a country that does not outlaw snuff films?

Google is free to shut down their EU satellite offices and pull out of the EU entirely, as a corporate entity, if they really feel this law is unreasonable; they are *not* free to ignore the law for spurious reasons.

* Google's career site shows satellite offices in 24 European countries. I'm too lazy to check which are EU members and which aren't, but certainly quite a few of them are.

Re:Slippery Slope (1, Flamebait)

mindwhip (894744) | about 4 months ago | (#47541675)

Related question... why does the USA hate Samsung so much?

I find it interesting when its the USA instead of Europe (or any other nation/entity) doing this kind of global policing that's perfectly fine with US government (and therefore by extension most Americans and American companies) but the second the shoe is on the other foot its a different matter entirely... for example not all countries have the same laws on copyright/patents but USA expects everyone to comply with their view of how the world should be.

The answer to both questions is almost always where the money is. US Agencies favour Apple as they are a US company. EU dislike Google (and some other 'globals') as they use creative accounting to avoid paying a fair amount (sometimes paying nothing) of local taxes in most countries.

PS: I don't agree with the decision... I just find the attitudes interesting.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541717)

(I am the grandparent poster, and a USian.)

I... don't think the US hates Samsung at all? Certainly Apple fanboys do, but I don't think that adheres to any national borders -- I expect Apple fanboys in Europe or elsewhere hate Samsung as well. Perhaps I'm wrong. Regardless, Samsung's phones and tablets sell perfectly well in the US.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541925)

Didn't a US president "pardon" Apple from infringing on some Samsun patents?
http://www.fosspatents.com/2013/08/obama-administration-vetoes-itc-import.html

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47541805)

Well, I don't hate Samsung at all, but Apple has some pretty dedicated fans, or at least a ton of folks who love their iDevices. So, when the companies do legal battle, Samsung will naturally generate some hate. And given that one is the natural "home team" versus the "away team", it probably makes sense that more will root for Apple than Samsung, all else being equal. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.

Note that I said I don't "hate" them, but that doesn't mean I "like" any of them either. I've always found it fascinating how people feel the need to leap to the defense of a multi-billion dollar mega-corporation to defend its products or policies (phones, console wars, etc), but have never understood it myself. I'll pick out the best product that works for me, and if the company tries to screw me over, I'll look for a competitor's products.

Re:Slippery Slope (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541767)

Or how about you stop trying to control what data is on their servers, no matter where the servers actually are? I live in the US, and I see people from other countries bitching all the time about how the US likes to play world police, and how they abuse companies and try to take information that isn't even in the US. But suddenly, when Europe does the same shit, it's okay? No, it's not okay, no matter who does it.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541635)

I like Google.
There was a day when I didn't. Google was new, and their results were inferior. I heard that Google had potential to get better as they crawled more of the web. Bah. Lots of technical companies had potential if certain scenarios worked favorably.
But, in the end, their proponents were right. Google provided superior search results in an era where Altavista let me down.

Google is an American company, providing search results to me, an American. If EU wants to censor (and I do call this ridiculous "right to be forgotten" censorship) content from the .co.uk domain, they might or might not have some say over what happens with such domains. The way they should try to do that is to control the .co.uk domains, not Google.com.
What they certainly shouldn't have any say about is what happens when an American search engine like Google.com provides results from a query made by me, an American.

If a company like Google stops providing good search results, like what Altavista did, then it may be time for me to make another switch. I'm sure that *some* American company would be capable of scanning public websites (including EU domains) and using American freedom of speech to help point me to those public websites. I hope that I don't need to try to locate such a company. I hope that Google's search results do not become inferior.

The EU should not have the power (or even try to have the power) to force Google, an American company, to provide inferior service so that I, an American, become dissatisfied with their info. What Google does for me is to provide info from Google.com. The EU should have no say about that.

If the EU actually tries to do that, then they are being unethical. Granted, America hasn't been entirely pure with the way our government (especially the NSA) has been doing certain things. I'm not trying to compare EU to America or anything else, to figure out who is worse. I am saying that I hope that the EU doesn't be unethical in this way. Otherwise, I will be inclined to lose interest in dealing with the EU, just as some Europeans have been losing interest in dealing with Americans because of the American NSA's activities.

I am beginning to admire Antarctica's form of government more and more.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541653)

The EU should not have the power (or even try to have the power) to force Google, an American company, to provide inferior service so that I, an American, become dissatisfied with their info. What Google does for me is to provide info from Google.com. The EU should have no say about that.

Google is not just an American company. Its headquarters are there, certainly -- but it maintains satellite offices and exists as a corporate entity in many other countries, including many in the EU. Google is free to not open offices in a given country (or union of countries) if they do not wish to abide with local laws. They are not free to open an office and then ignore local laws.

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 4 months ago | (#47541811)

How exactly do "local" EU laws affect what an American citizen accessing google.com from within the US? Exactly what gives the EU any jurisdiction over that?

Are you suggesting that because BMW sells cars in the US that the US government can require that the cars that BMW builds in Europe for sale in Europe be built to US standards instead of European standards?

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

umghhh (965931) | about 4 months ago | (#47541905)

Global companies dealing with muricans have to complie with many requirements that muricans put on them that affect their business globally not only on US market.

I read a book once. It is a long story about rambling on trough country side. One of the ramblers stole a caw from a farmer. Asked by other why did he do it , he answered that when he steals all is well, only when somebody steals from him, it is then very bad and requires punishment. One cannot expect too much from Muricans so go on with your rambling.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541931)

It is not like the US doesn't do the same bullshit:

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

The United States does not block Cuba's trade with third-party countries: other countries are not under the jurisdiction of U.S. domestic laws, such as the Cuban Democracy Act (although, in theory, foreign countries that trade with Cuba could be penalised by the U.S., which has been condemned as an "extraterritorial" measure that contravenes "the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs.")

Re: Slippery Slope (1)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47541959)

They already have a better way to manage this than via which TLD the query is run against. On YouTube, it is apparent that they use IP address to determine the location of the client (that is, software client. Let's leave the argument about users being the product and the advertisers being the clients for another thread!) and thus block content in territories where they have been asked to prevent its distribution. Why not implement the same here?

Re: Slippery Slope (1)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47541971)

Actually... Scratch that! IP address based location would probably work, but not exactly as implemented on YT. IIRC, searching for restricted material on YT still brings up the search results, and even brings up the individual pages, it's just the video content itself that's blocked.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541673)

Your premise that Google is an American company is functionally flawed. They have an internation presence. If they want to scale that back to just the USA, then fine. They can join me in derision of EU law. What they can't do is operate there and disregard the law. As much as I dislike the EU, EU law (or law in general), I see that as a good thing.

There should be consequences to internationalism and this - as well as NSA BS on our side of the pond - can be the route by which nations determine what sort of businesses they wish to attract. Will we be secure like money in a Swiss bank (used to be) or will it all devolve into kleptocracies?

If nothing else, this opens a niche for a pure US search engine (and pure search engines in every country that is beholden to laws of just one country).

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47541795)

If their EU offices are incorporate in those countries and google otherwise operates outside thst subsidiary, only the portions operating in Europe needs to worry about it.

Re: Slippery Slope (2)

JWW (79176) | about 4 months ago | (#47542621)

The problem is this:

There will be a case where a factual based post, possibly with added opinions, will be posted by an American, but the subject of that post, a European, will want it removed from the search results due to the right to be forgotten. If Google removes this result from google.com, the American poster will have standing to sue google for removing their post because of foreign law. Now google being a private company, can do what they want, but what if Google wants to keep the Americans post listed and is only removing it to comply with EU law? Then Google would not challenge the American posters case, they would let it go through the courts. The decision by the courts would be that Google be allowed to list the American's post so as to not violate the posters free speech rights.

Free speech is one of the most important natural rights of man. I don't give a damn about Europe's "right to be forgotten". That right is shit compared to the right of free speech.

Re:Slippery Slope (3, Informative)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 4 months ago | (#47541691)

If Google is censoring their results, they could do so no just on the basis of which version of Google receives the request, but on the basis of the requesting IP address. That would be a showing of making the attempt to comply, and Google could argue that people who make the effort to use a VPN are like people who get on a train and leave the EU. It's up to the EU to treat with the countries at the other end of the train ride if they want their same law to apply in those places as well.

Meanwhile, someone who isn't Google and doesn't have offices in the EU will surely make up a page of links to this information. If the page generates traffic, someone will pay for add space there.

And then the next step is... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 4 months ago | (#47542337)

Meanwhile, someone who isn't Google and doesn't have offices in the EU will surely make up a page of links to this information. If the page generates traffic, someone will pay for add space there.

And then the next logical step is for the EU to impose some sort of sanctions on the infrastructure and payment services involved if any of them have any connection to the EU -- just as the US government has done with things like DNS and payment services that are conveniently within its jurisdiction.

I'm not sure I like where this is all going. I'm sure we can all agree that overall the Internet has been a great advance for humanity, and in recent years governments from all over the world have presumed to carve it up and control it in their own interests, almost invariably to the detriment of people somewhere else (or, in some cases, their own people).

However, we are going to have to confront some difficult philosophical and ethical differences sooner or later, because clearly we also can't have a situation where the Internet is somehow above the law, but we don't always agree on what that law should be. Frankly, the US government have been throwing their own weight around for years, and Google have been doing things that push the boundaries of typical European legal and ethical standards for a long time too. Neither has shown any particular concern or remorse about the effects of their actions abroad, and neither has suffered any significant negative consequences so far, with the possible exception of the Snowden fallout. Sooner or later the rest of the world was going to push back.

In as much as this marks a change in the general acceptance that the US can export its laws and ethics but won't be subject to anyone else's, that is probably a good direction to move in. It will force the issues of Internet governance and extra-territorial law enforcement into the open, where at least we can scrutinise and debate them honestly, instead of everyone's government doing sneaky things often without much public scrutiny and often because of coincidences involving which infrastructure happened to fall somewhere they could get at it.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 months ago | (#47541823)

The adverts I see on google.com are exactly the same as the adverts I see on google.co.uk. They tend to be for British companies or companies that sell to people in the UK.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 months ago | (#47541929)

So, Europe would like to be able to affect what everyone sees,

You are jumping to conclusion there.

Europe would like its laws to be honoured by corporations doing business in the EU. If Google was ordered to remove X, but it is still present if I simply go to google.com instead of google.co.uk, then Google has not complied with the removal order.

It is absolutely technically possible to filter based on source IP address country. They can do it for advertisement, so there's absolutely no excuse for not doing it for legal compliance.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542055)

Of course Europe wants to affect what everyone sees, and what everyone does too. And Europe is perfectly within its divine right to do so. You see, Europeans are Nazi Übermensch, the Herrenvolk (the Master Race for the non-Aryans who cannot speak German). They are destined to rule over the whole world, forever. Heil Europa! HEIL EUROPA! SIEG HEIL!

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 4 months ago | (#47542279)

Microsoft and Yahoo are affected too, they were at the meeting. It's not an attack on Google, it's an attack on the freedom of the truth.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 4 months ago | (#47541639)

But no information is being removed, just the search results to that information are removed.

Re:Slippery Slope (4, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 months ago | (#47541685)

But no information is being removed, just the search results to that information are removed.

In an information database as vast as the internet, what is the difference? There's enough people who will happily believe that if it doesn't exist on Google then it doesn't exist.

More of money=power. (1)

ReekRend (843787) | about 4 months ago | (#47541711)

Yes, very much so.

Also anyone with the resources/money can still find any of this information. This "privacy through obscurity" will shift informational power back towards those with money, rather than the obviously preferable democratization of information the internet had enabled and encouraged.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541705)

Which is what makes this ruling stupid. They're essentially making an index illegal...

If someone wants information about themselves gone, they should contact the holder of the info... e.g. if there's a wrong news article, then have the individual contact the news company and clarify the matter. The EU regulation should mandate some contact and procedures for each news organization, etc., (or perhaps each website should have a valid email address, etc.). Google is a very wrong place to "remove" information (since...it doesn't actually "remove" information---just requires using a non-mainstream search engine to find).

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47542259)

And your right to free speech is not infringed on, just your ability to reach people so they would listen is removed.

Re:Slippery Slope (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 months ago | (#47541679)

I have yet to hear of a single case where a removal request revolved around incorrect information.

Mostly it's people who see their careers threatened by their own past illegal or immoral actions being known.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

ReekRend (843787) | about 4 months ago | (#47541719)

Yes, and it's indefensible. I'm sure we'd all love to have the world forget about our past mistakes, which would be nice in a completely one-sided way. It fails to take into account anyone else affected by those mistakes, who will now lose the ability to search and reference events that legitimately affected their lives.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47541815)

Others can still search for the information. They just need to use different terms.

For instance, suppose a fire was set on vacant property and it got out of control burning another property. Supposed the police accused the owner of arson for the insurance money. Now suppode that 20 years later, that owner wants it all to be forgotten. You could sesrch for yhe area, fire, time, statements made by witnesses and so on to find the information about it.

Re: Slippery Slope (1)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47542073)

Then there's the flip-side of that argument... What if the police subsequently dropped the accusations because they found the real culprit, but because it was never reported in the public domain, it's not available for Google et al to index. Because the sites reporting the original police accusation are reporting fact, you can't use libel laws to force a take-down. Based on your argument, you seem to be saying that it's OK for the first, falsely accused, individual to suffer in perpetuity as a result of a false accusation. Am I misinterpreting your comment, or did you not consider that side?

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 months ago | (#47541827)

You are entitled to get incorrect information removed. That is not new and not controversial, that is why it isn't considered newsworthy.

Not a Slippery Slope (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 4 months ago | (#47541713)

This isn't a slippery slope, this is simply a cliff. There is no right to be forgotten, because it would mean I don't have a right to remember and thus share that memory.

Think about it, if I printed a memoir in the 1960s, and have, perhaps negative, anecdotes of various people, would that book have had to be recalled from the shelves a few years later just because the right to forget kicked in? Oh right, internet. Changes everything.

The human species is going to have to grow up a little. First as an audience and consumer of the net, and realize that just because it's on the internet (or even wikipedia) doesn't mean it's true. It also has to realize what people said in the past doesn't always pose a true reflection of their current selves - that people change and evolve. Especially from a younger age like 13.

Second, it will have to grow up as individuals and realize, when you put it out there, you put it out there. And no nanny state can fix it.

They can only provide the illusion of fixing it. Because search engines outside the EU are going to ignore this. And savvy people inside the EU will be able to access those with ease, while the heavy handed censorship will only provide the drones with comfort they are taken care of.

Guess what a person's right to be forgotten would turn into in the US? Corporations, who are people, would jump in it.

Why is this being pushed so hard now anyway? Well, Germany got it's hand caught in the cookie jar along with the NSA. It's BundesNachrichtenDienst (BND) works alongside with and is just as if not more invasive than the NSA.

Of course, Merkel gets to put on her show and dance about being outraged her phone is tapped, but she says nothing about how complicit she is in tapping everyone elses phones in her country.

And don't think the EU countries are any more innocent in this.

So instead of really protecting the right to privacy, by people who want privacy in the here and now, by pushing bulletproof encryption standards without backdoors and other actual net positives for their citizens, they just put up this debate of this none-issue that feels really good but does nothing except what government is typically good at - banning certain behaviors from private entities and censoring hot potatoes from public eyes. Ony it's third speciality, making a tax for this, is missing and probably coming. Perhaps an ISP tax that will "help monitor and enforce your privacy online", which is code for another 1000 workers at the BND trading people's naked selfies.

So putting this as some slippery slope is unhelpful. It implies that this is an actual issue that needs to be hammered out. No. It's just bullshit sand-in-the-face for those who don't see what's really going on.

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541911)

This isn't a slippery slope, this is simply a cliff. There is no right to be forgotten, because it would mean I don't have a right to remember and thus share that memory.

You have your right to remember, even nasty stuff about other people. But not the right to publish that in a database open for all to see forever. That is the difference. A memoir published in 1960 is not a problem. It may be archived in various libraries - but its content is not available through the few clicks of a name search.

Having unpleasant stuff on Google, linked to your name - it is the modern equivalent of the pillory. Lets say you did something stupid in a party when you were 15. Everybody who was there, remember that you urinated on the living room wall. They have the right to remember. And perhaps they tease you about it occationally. But 25 years later, the snapshots still appear on page 1 when googling your name. It prevents promotions and other career moves - even though you have grown up (and long since paid for the damages).

Knowing some stuff, and publishing the same stuff in a searchable database, is not the same. That is what this is about. If you don't like "corporations as persons", please push to overturn that. In stead of making life harder on real persons.

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 months ago | (#47541927)

Second, it will have to grow up as individuals and realize, when you put it out there, you put it out there. And no nanny state can fix it.

It is mostly not about stuff people put out there themselves. There are people out there who can't get a job because they were wrongfully accused of molesting a child 10 years ago, and the searches turn up the accusations, but not the acquittal (mostly because press rarely writes about it).

Of course, Merkel gets to put on her show and dance about being outraged her phone is tapped, but she says nothing about how complicit she is in tapping everyone elses phones in her country.

While you are right on this, I doubt it has much to do with this law. This law has been in the works since 1995 and was passed in 2012 if I recall correctly (many EU laws go into effect delayed, or require national laws to be passed to implement them). It was on the table long before anyone knew the name Snowden, and if at all then the NSA scandal only affected some final touches.

Target Welcomes Snowden (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47542203)

It was on the table long before anyone knew the name Snowden

Target knew in the mid-1990s. Target Welcomes Snowden [target.com]

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#47542013)

There is no right to be forgotten, because it would mean I don't have a right to remember and thus share that memory.

That's not what the right to be forgotten is. It would more accurately be described as the "right to be forgotten by commercial entities".

In the EU we have data protection laws that affect anyone collecting personal data for business use. For example a company with a client database must take steps to ensure that it is protected and people's personal data is not leaked, and that it isn't sold for profit without consent. There are rules concerning things like credit reference agencies keeping data on things beyond the period which they can legally be considered, e.g. bankruptcy that doesn't have to be declared after 5 years. Subjects can also request that their data is removed if they no longer have any relationship with the company, e.g. if you close your Facebook account they must remove all your old data too.

In this case Google crawls the web for information about people. They must treat that information according to data protection rules. It doesn't matter if the information is a matter of public record. An old bankruptcy might have been written about in a newspaper, but that doesn't mean that a credit reference agency can report it after 5 years. People may remember, they may not, that's just life and a measure of how noteworthy the individual is. The point is that when they apply for a new business loan the credit reference agency isn't allowed to remind the bank. Even if the bank employee remembers they can't use that information in their decision, and if they do they won't be able to justify it to the regulator later since the credit report didn't mention it.

People use Google to research other people. Google is extremely good at finding and sorting information about people. Why should Google be allowed to opt out of rules that affect credit reference agencies, for example?

Note that your personal right to remember is completely unaffected. You are not required to forgot or remove information from your personal web site.

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (1)

SQL Error (16383) | about 4 months ago | (#47542083)

It doesn't matter if the information is a matter of public record.

Yeah, it kind of does. Striking something from the public record is state-sponsored censorship, and that not only leads to evil, it's an evil in and of itself.

Who is commercial? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47542211)

It would more accurately be described as the "right to be forgotten by commercial entities". [...] You are not required to forgot or remove information from your personal web site.

But where does a "personal web site" end and "by commercial entities" begin? At the use of modest ads to pay for the cost of hosting?

Who is commercial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542353)

The difference is more in how the information is treated. Did you write a news article or blog post about some person? Then it is okay to keep it (as long as it isn't slander or breaking other laws). It would be okay to keep it even if you had ads and especially if you're running a news site with publication license then you've got additional protection. Are you keeping a database and listing people from certain criteria and with additional (maybe even personal) details? Not okay.

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 4 months ago | (#47542017)

All great ethical questions have the quality of slippery slopes, and this is, IMHO, one of the most fundamentally important questions of the 21st century. About as important as the legal concept of personal property - can you own it, can others steal it or damage it, can you sell it, can people inherit it, etc.

The fact is that information is, today, more valuable than money. Indeed, look around you, companies are perfectly willing to take people's information in lieu of money. They know that they can always convert information into money later down the track.

Yet we don't have a concensus on who owns the information, for lack of a better metaphor. Is my full name and likeness my own, or some hollywood company's ? Do my weekend party antics belong to Facebook? Does Google have the right to claim and organize all the rumours about me ? If I generate information just by existing and living my life, and this information has a monetary value, isn't it mine in all its forms? Should I not have the right to control it, as well as the responsibility of it. I have such rights with my children, and such responsibilities, also with my everyday actions in conducting my life (which is exactly the information that ends up being collected).

These are not easy questions, but they are vital, and the EU / Google skirmish is a very important one. I'm a humanist. I believe laws and ethics should always be chosen by human beings, and favour human beings, at the expense of robots and legal entities such as companies and organisations, all else being equal. Of course I oppose Google on this.

The human species is going to have to grow up a little. First as an audience and consumer of the net, and realize that just because it's on the internet (or even wikipedia) doesn't mean it's true. It also has to realize what people said in the past doesn't always pose a true reflection of their current selves - that people change and evolve. Especially from a younger age like 13.

It doesn't work like that, which is part of the complexity. For making everyday decisions, people must make a choice all the time on what to trust, on the internet. Why? Because people's actions occur on the internet. It's the same medium. People buy things, apply for jobs, deal with their governments, and hang out among friends. On the internet. It's a wild mix of truth and false. Have you ever been on a public place early in the morning? There are janitors who clean up the trash. Otherwise we'd be knee deep in shit everywhere, everyday. Growing up and holding your nose is not an option. The internet is starting to smell. It needs janitors.

Second, it will have to grow up as individuals and realize, when you put it out there, you put it out there. And no nanny state can fix it.

It's not as simple as you think. You haven't thought of the other side of the coin. When others put it out there (about you), it's out there too. And Laws must fix it. This is nothing new. Do you think the Jews put out stories in the world that they themselves are evil, are thieves, have crooked noses, and live like rats in filthy houses, shitting in their own kitchens while they eat? They did not, the Nazis did. And because the Nazis put it out there, it became true. As true as necessary to make ordinary people believe it, and do their bidding.

Google collects all these stories about everyone indiscriminately. Some are true, some are not. Google's actions must be stopped. There must be an ethical, legal way to clean up information over time, and it must apply to all companies, Google, your local comic book store, etc. It is an important issue, and a very difficult one. Google can stay in business, but there must be some limits. And when in doubt, I favour human beings over companies, always. YMMV, but to say it's bullshit or a non-issue is putting your head in the sand.

You suggest people should just accept the new reality, that we should live in a world where anybody can say anything about anybody, true or not, by writing it in a web page or a SQL database. Where this information can be sold, can be used to discriminate against people, can be used for statistics to make up facts and political discourses, etc. You're worried we'll end up in a nanny state if this isn't allowed. Well, I'm worried we'll end up in a Goebbelsian paradise. Thus the slippery slope. For better or for worse, information is the new environment in which we live, in the 21st century. This environment fills up with (information) wasted, like every other environment where people live. It's starting to smell, and we must give people the right to clean it up.

Re:Not a Slippery Slope (2)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47542145)

The problem is that this is not just humans versus corporations/machine, this is human rights vs human rights. Free Speech Vs the Right to be Forgotten, why does the latter, which is no where codified, larger then the first which has been for centuries?

It's not as simple as you think. You haven't thought of the other side of the coin. When others put it out there (about you), it's out there too. And Laws must fix it. This is nothing new. Do you think the Jews put out stories in the world that they themselves are evil, are thieves, have crooked noses, and live like rats in filthy houses, shitting in their own kitchens while they eat? They did not, the Nazis did. And because the Nazis put it out there, it became true. As true as necessary to make ordinary people believe it, and do their bidding.

You should do things considering that it may get put out there. Why should I not be able to know that someone I may be hiring makes bad decisions just because they dont want me to know they did something stupid? Your latter argument is poor, as there are already laws that work well at getting rid of libel/slander...

Google collects all these stories about everyone indiscriminately. Some are true, some are not. Google's actions must be stopped. There must be an ethical, legal way to clean up information over time, and it must apply to all companies, Google, your local comic book store, etc. It is an important issue, and a very difficult one. Google can stay in business, but there must be some limits. And when in doubt, I favour human beings over companies, always. YMMV, but to say it's bullshit or a non-issue is putting your head in the sand.

Google does not collect stories, they collect links to stories. No When in doubt you you dont favor humans over companies, that is a confirmation bias that you have that as I pointed out above does not work, as this is about humans vs humans. The person trying to force a new reality is you. People have always had to worry about their actions catching up with them, since the time of books and word of mouth, you want to change that reality so that it no longer works, and that your actions dont catch up with you.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541779)

There is already a legal process for removing incorrect information about oneself, it's called a libel lawsuit. There should be no right to remove unflattering information about oneself as long as that information is true. There is no slippery slope between these two points. This is a cliff and they've already jumped over it.

Correct yet misleading (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47542229)

You deny the existence of a category "correct yet misleading", such as a mention of someone being accused of a particularly shameful crime but later being acquired or otherwise having the charges dropped. Google allegedly makes it too easy for human resource personnel and others who routinely perform background checks to mislead themselves about a candidate's character.

Re:Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541803)

That's why they did, shhhh, don't tell anyone! Re-elections and underage Cambodian hooker parties here we come!

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

Morpf (2683099) | about 4 months ago | (#47542119)

This is no slippery slope, this is utter nonesense! If facts stated about your are wrong, you let your lawyer send a letter, that the author has to remove or change the information. They will comply if it's reasonable, if not one can escalate and go on trail.

Long strory short: In Europe you already have means against someone unrighfully diffaming you. No need for censoriing.

Public figure mostly excluded (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 4 months ago | (#47542143)

The right to be forgotten was meant to be for normal individuals which went into a abd situation, then corrected it, but google always bring it up as first result thus meaning your chance of reintegration and finding a good job get NIL, and thus you enter a abd spiral or get your chance in life lowered. The example of that was a guy which went bankrupt paid back his debt, but still even after that the first result in google was his debt and bankruptcy, thus putting a burden on him.

It was NEVER meant for am public figure or a politician to hide their middeed or shameful action. >b>Google itnentionally allowed such removal as a kind of protest when such removal were not "granted" by the law. Google are the asshole here when they allow a public figure to remove their stuff.


Personally I am for the right to be forgotten. Previous generation including mine could do all sort of stuff including getting drunk, bankrupt, or get caught doing illegal stuff but never got punished foreever for it. It was always limited ansd people forgot, or you could move into another town. Nowadays it is different, you make a misstep, even something LEGAL but frowned upon, and BAM ! It is there for ever + longer.

A non forgetting society is a harsh society which I refuse. So excuse me if I think the slope was slippery before, when nothing was forgotten. Having a right to be forgotten remove a bit of that slope and make it more horizontal. Excellent.

Re:Public figure mostly excluded (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 4 months ago | (#47542309)

A non forgetting society is a harsh society which I refuse. So excuse me if I think the slope was slippery before, when nothing was forgotten. Having a right to be forgotten remove a bit of that slope and make it more horizontal.

Society is just as harsh in your proposed solution - you just make it harder for them to act that way by denying it information.

You could just as easily go the opposite route. Just post defaming information online about everybody who ever lived, in copious amounts, so that it is impossible for anybody to figure out what information is real and what information is not. Then, heaven forbid, people will actually have to get to know people instead of just blacklisting them because of some photos on Facebook or whatever.

Institutional hypocrisy (1)

aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) | about 4 months ago | (#47541557)

The EU directive gives at best a false sense of privacy, since the information itself isn't removed, but only the links, kind of like the way an OS might "remove" a file but still preserve its data ready to be "undeleted" (unless it's a filesystem that tends to overwrite unused blocks).

The EU regulators don't want to appear as "censors" (with the unsavory connotation that the word carries in a presumably democratic environment) so they don't go after the source. This reeks of institutional hypocrisy. Why not just go after the publishers. If they shut down the publishers, bloggers, etc, then all that Google and Bing would be left are the dead links.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (2)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47541587)

Oh, don't worry, the French are already doing that [eater.com] . Fortunately, this particular case demonstrated the Striesand Effect [wikipedia.org] can still kick a bully's ass from time to time.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

TuringTest (533084) | about 4 months ago | (#47541909)

Anyone claiming that the Streisand effect somehow harmed this guy because of the original information is now widely known , doesn't understand a damn thing about the case.

The man didn't want to hide that he was once in debt to the point of having his home auctioned - had that been his only goal, starting a legal case on it would be idiotic. The point was to remove a very prominent display that implied the false impression he was still in debt, that was shown without any context to antone who Googled his name.

Anyone looking for him now will know about tge corrections he made. As this was his goal, it's a net win for him.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47542319)

Could you follow that link of mine and double-check to see if we're talking about the same case? Because it sure doesn't sound like it to me.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#47542039)

One mistake by a court which doesn't set a precedent isn't indicative of the law or national policy.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 4 months ago | (#47542397)

From the article I linked to:

Arret Sur Images reports that this is the first example of an amateur, unpaid blogger having to pay damages for a negative review. Doudet sees this as part of a growing problem around freedom of speech. "Recently several writers in France were sentenced in similar proceedings for defamation, invasion of privacy, and so on. And I find it really serious if we no longer have the freedom to write," she says. "I don't see the point of criticism if it's only positive. It's clear that online, people are suspicious of places that only get positive reviews."

This is apparently the first instance of an amateur blogger being sued because of a negative review, which is sort of the definition of a legal precedent, isn't it? I agree, though, that it's probably not national policy, and I very much doubt it's in the spirit of the law. That's of little comfort to someone on the sharp end of a bad court decision though, and seems awfully likely to have a chilling effect to some degree.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 months ago | (#47541829)

You could also use this directive to get the source removed, but only if the publisher is based in the EU or in another country that has similar laws.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 months ago | (#47541913)

The EU regulators don't want to appear as "censors"

Legally speaking, they not only don't appear, they are not. The legal definition of censorship (at least here in Germany, YMMV) means pre-publication, government-agency control. Having a court (as opposed to a government agency) found something illegal and removing it has never been considered censorship in the legal sense.

so they don't go after the source

Actually, the reason they don't is that if the source is outside the EU, it is a very lengthy and uncertain process. Now while you hail Internet anarchy, consider what options the lawmakers have:

  1. They could sit on their thumbs doing nothing. While this option pleases the anarchist in us, you cannot expect a lawmaker to ignore lawbreakers - in fact, in most other instances of such an event, we would complain very loudly that they're lazy, corrupt bastards.
  2. They can filter at the ISP level - welcome Internet censorship infrastructure. I'm pretty sure you don't want this alternative.
  3. They understand that for 90% of the users, Google et al is The Internet, and if it can't be found in a search, it doesn't exist.

For all the whining here, the option they've taken is actually the least intrusive.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 4 months ago | (#47541977)

For all the whining here, the option they've taken is actually the least intrusive.

And the best response that could be given would be to blackhole everything EU. They want to be forgotten, then let's forget them. Removing all links to everything EU including businesses, government and humanitarian sites would fit the bill. Restrict the crawler preventing new EU stuff from being indexed would solve the problem for the future.

The EU wants to be forgotten, let's see how the EU economy survives that.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542137)

Butthurt your "side" isnt the one in absolute control anymore? Most of the EU would be better off without US on the net, they have local services which are just fine and in their own language (including search options). But keep thinking a US free internet would ruin it, dont look at the facts of the US companies (both using the net and running it) are incompetent and/or in it for the money.

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47542099)

The court is a government agency....

Re:Institutional hypocrisy (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 4 months ago | (#47542217)

The EU regulators don't want to appear as "censors" (with the unsavory connotation that the word carries in a presumably democratic environment)...

That is a solved problem. Call it "filtering" instead and not only will The Public not object but they will demand it. To protect the children.

The memory hole isn't possible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541621)

Once something is on the internet, it will NEVER go away. Live the rest of your life accordingly. Yes, it sucks if there's some inaccurate BS about you on the web. But there's NOTHING you can do to make it go away. Making a big stink about it only spreads it further.

I figure it will take another generation or so for everyone to be acclimated to living with the internet.

Re:The memory hole isn't possible (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 4 months ago | (#47541773)

You can of course contact the site and ask them to remove it.

Re:The memory hole isn't possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542149)

you mean for everyone to become coporate whores and sheep, just blisfully accepting whatever others push on them?

Re:The memory hole isn't possible (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47542381)

If you mean that it will take another generation 'til people don't believe readily what they read simply 'cause someone wrote it, then I agree.

But until people realize that 99% of what they read on the internet is bullshit, we should maybe find a way to keep people from having their lives ruined by slander.

I still can't understand this insanity. (1)

ReekRend (843787) | about 4 months ago | (#47541651)

There is no, cannot be any, justification for removing indexes of factual reference.

There may be discussions on the pros and cons of "too much" information, but that Pandora's box is already open and we have to live with it.

Re:I still can't understand this insanity. (2)

jonbryce (703250) | about 4 months ago | (#47541835)

Suppose I did a search for "ReekRend", and found an article that said you had been arrested for a suspected child porn offence. That might hypothetically be true, but what that article doesn't say, because it happened a bit later, is that the police dropped all charges after they found that someone else had stolen your credit card and used it to buy child porn. You probably wouldn't want the original article appearing every time someone searched for your name.

Re:I still can't understand this insanity. (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 4 months ago | (#47542501)

Isn't that why a law this this should address the source, rather than the index? In your example, the original article should be updated with an addendum in the title or header, just as print news often publishes a clarifying piece. Hyperlinks to the article would immediately make it clear what the truth is. Because the Right to be Forgotten targets search engines instead, it's being used (and abused) by people who actually did something wrong and want it erased. People should be left to determine for themselves what information is relevant, not what you or I demand them to believe. It's like the old adage that respect is earned. I can't force you to respect me, but I have a lot of control about what you think about me. Maybe that's still not enough for some people, but I'll say this: nothing good has ever emerged from censorship of the truth.

Re:I still can't understand this insanity. (1)

TuringTest (533084) | about 4 months ago | (#47541855)

There is no, cannot be any, justification for removing indexes of factual reference

Suppose someone covers the walls all over your neighbourhood with signboards saying "See at <URL> photos of ReekRend [your real name here] picking his nose/drunk as a skunk/bathing nude at the beach that night/whatever" that is factual but inconsequential, though makes you and your loved ones ashamed of something in your past, up for anyone visiting you to see them. Would you want those to be removed, or would you be OK with those being a permanent feature of your street?

Now does it make a difference if the signboards are virtual?

Re:I still can't understand this insanity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542157)

You dont understand rehabilitation i see. you would rather every little thing follows everyone on a neon-sign to their death. That is OK, this is simply american vs european culture. But we dont want your punishment culture so if a company want to operate here, it will do so by our laws - we will then live with google leaving europe if they prefer that over following the laws.

Dickslexic (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47541769)

issues in six oral questions...

I kept reading that wrong for some reason.

Why are they asking Google? (2)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 4 months ago | (#47541771)

Aren't these the kinds of questions the EU should have been asking themselves before passing the law? The fact that so many of these questions need to be asked should show them just how poorly conceived and written the law is in the first place.

Re:Why are they asking Google? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about 4 months ago | (#47541817)

Well they had to pass it before they could read it!

Re: Why are they asking Google? (2)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47541885)

My guess is, different groups involved here. IIRC the "law" in question is in fact case law, not (as yet) codified in statute or treaty. As such, the current state of the law (with all its lack of limitations, clarifications, etc) is the result of judgements made by the judiciary. IANAL so I won't start delving into the rights and wrongs of whether they should have the power to make judgements that interpret the law in such a way that they extend/expand it to such a great degree, but what I will say is that I believe that, should the decision be taken that the law is important enough to warrant codifying in treaty/statute, that codification should NOT be in the hands of the judiciary. My guess is that someone fairly senior in the EU bureaucracy has determined that this matter is getting enough column inches that it warrants codifying in an attempt to bring a degree of clarity (or, and I guess that this is just me being overly cynical, they've run out of things they have been tasked with and need to find something to do to use up remaining budget/resources to justify its maintenance/increase in the next round of budget negotiations). The obvious first step in this is to determine how the major players are interpreting and implementing the judgement thus far. They will likely then determine whether this is the interpretation of the judgement that they want to see applied, and codify legislation either to maintain the current way the industry is operating, or to encourage it in their preferred direction. Of course, the whole process is somewhat iterative, inasmuch as it only being a matter of time before some case hits the courts due to a disagreement over interpretations of this new law, and we'll be back to judges again (potentially on and on, ad infinitum). Tl;dr... The questions weren't asked when the law was written because the law was never envisaged as covering these sorts of situations. Judges interpreted the law as encompassing them (this is within their power) but did not rewrite the underlying law (as this is NOT, or at least shouldn't be, within their power).

Re:Why are they asking Google? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#47542097)

The law was actually passed in the mid 90s. They have been trying to update it but had trouble getting consensus from all member states. I expect this will spur them on a bit.

What about my right to search? (1)

Rashdot (845549) | about 4 months ago | (#47541825)

I think I'll switch to google.com, my local version is crippled because of EU law.

Re:What about my right to search? (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 months ago | (#47541891)

What about my right to search?

There is no such right, except in your imagination. There is a right (at least in my country, probably similar ones in the EU as a whole) to get information from publicly available sources. So the government cannot stop you from searching at all. But it can intervene in the information available if that information breaks laws. For example, copyrighted content, state secrets, but also information a court has found to be libel or slander.

And quite frankly speaking, for the cases this law is intended for (let's not focus only on the abuses, as most idiot journalists do because it makes for better headlines), the right of an individual to not have their life ruined by, say, completely made-up allegations of child abuse and rape quite clearly trumps your right of finding false and misleading information.

Re: What about my right to search? (1)

countach (534280) | about 4 months ago | (#47541951)

Well, depending on where you live there may be sme kind of right to free speech. In the US it is fairly explicit. In the UK and commonwealth countries there have been rulings that say there is an implied right to a certain degree of free speech. So is there a right to search, which is really a form of free speech? Well, there may well be.

Re:What about my right to search? (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 4 months ago | (#47542305)

You're wrong. This law isn't about slanderous claims, defamation, or copyright infringement. There have been laws that address that already. This law involves the removal of factual information--censorship of the truth. That's the key difference.

Re:What about my right to search? (1)

SQL Error (16383) | about 4 months ago | (#47542339)

What about my right to search?

There is no such right, except in your imagination.

Freedom of association.

And quite frankly speaking, for the cases this law is intended for (let's not focus only on the abuses, as most idiot journalists do because it makes for better headlines), the right of an individual to not have their life ruined by, say, completely made-up allegations of child abuse and rape quite clearly trumps your right of finding false and misleading information.

That would be libel, and is adequately covered by existing laws. Excessively covered in the UK.

Re:What about my right to search? (1)

Rashdot (845549) | about 4 months ago | (#47542433)

What about my right to search?

There is no such right, except in your imagination.

It must be my imagination that people in other countries may have more rights to search the internet than me.

I realize that universal human rights are not recognized in large parts of the world, but I was hoping at least the EU would.

Re:What about my right to search? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47541965)

I think I'll switch to google.com, my local version is crippled because of EU law

So, you'll use the one crippled by the DMCA?

Re:What about my right to search? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 4 months ago | (#47542409)

So ... we need a search engine where the search results are not crippled by EU "right to be forgotten" legislation and US "no right to get your content" DMCA. Hmm. Where the heck could we find a really free search engine.

How about baidu? I mean, I at least as long as I don't plan to search for Tiananmen Square or Tibet it should give me more accurate results...

Spent convictions (2)

KevReedUK (1066760) | about 4 months ago | (#47541937)

One point I haven't seen raised in the debate thus far is that of "spent" convictions.

Here in the UK (and possibly other EU jurisdictions, I don't know), if you are convicted of a crime and have served your sentence, after a defined period the conviction will cease to appear on most employment-related criminal records checks (with obvious exceptions for high-risk roles such as those working with the young/vulnerable) and no longer have to be declared. This defined period varied with the severity of the crime involved/sentence served.

Historically, this meant potential employers in the lower-risk roles didn't know of convictions from a long time in the past unless the applicant volunteered the information, the HR staff involved had a far greater than average memory or could be bothered to pop down to the library and trawl the (barely indexed) microfiches of old newspapers on the slim chance that one of the current batch of applicants may have been convicted in a case considered significant enough to make it into the press. Now, it's just a couple of minutes on Google (or your other search provider of choice) to get this information that was considered unobtainable without compulsion or formal regulated checks when the law covering spent convictions was enacted.

This change is pretty fundamental, and MAY have been at least subconsciously involved in the court judgements that led to this discussion. That being said, IANAL. I do have a vague recollection of the statute being called the "Rehabilitation of Offenders Act" (there was a section about it and why it didn't apply on a set of security clearance application forms I had to complete over a decade ago, which, being a 20-year-old without so much as a speeding ticket, I only skimmed due to its irrelevance to me. Hence why my recollection is merely somewhat vague on the specifics), but I'm sure that if I'm wrong, some lawyer lurlikg in the /. undergrowth will jump in and correct me (and even if I'm right, will still likely jump in to add the date the act was passed).

Re:Spent convictions (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 4 months ago | (#47542351)

Question: Does this law prevent someone from declaring a "spent conviction" on an application and an employer from asking about it or using it against the applicant? Or does it require the conviction records to be expunged from public records? Even in the US, there are laws addressing equal opportunity and employee discrimination. Even if an employer discovers a past arrest or conviction through a background, that cannot be used against the applicant to deny them a job. There are exceptions, for example a repeat child sex offender probably wouldn't get a job in a day care center, but even in that circumstance, the employer could still get dragged into court in a challenge.

China likes this (1)

jeti (105266) | about 4 months ago | (#47541983)

+1

National Boundaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542043)

"They also asked search engines to explain where they take down the results, after complaints from some regulators that Google does not filter results on google.com. That means that anyone in Europe can switch from, say, google.co.uk to Google.com to see any removed links."

Duh. Because these arrogant European do not own the world. Despite the fact that they have repeatedly tried to conquer the rest of the world they do not make the laws in other lands. Those of us in the USA and other countries are not bound by European law outside of Europe. Bravo to Google for not forgetting things outside the European theater. Europeans and live in their little fantasy world where they rewrite history but the rest of us will take our dose of reality full strength.

Re:National Boundaries (1)

aaribaud (585182) | about 4 months ago | (#47542105)

these arrogant European do not own the world

Nor do these arrogants "USA and other countries" (merrily forgetting there is something else in the world than Europe and the USA plus its satellites) who think there is no second chance ever, and no right to ensure one's personal data are correct, and no rigth to privacy either -- to mention only some of the personal-data-related rights that are given to me by my own European country (note that, as some have said, other European countries may have these rights in a less formal way, as a result of case law) and that I can successfully use to deter French spammers while I still have to suffer US ones. :/

(amusingly, if you take one step back on this "those arrogant whatevers" ping-pong game, you'll get a pretty good case of some one (one region of the world)'s freedom (to define the Right Way) stopping where it harms someone else (nother region of the world)'s freedom (to do exactly likewise). Now, let's go read article 4 of the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen. See the irony? No? Too bad.)

Re:National Boundaries (1)

dkf (304284) | about 4 months ago | (#47542163)

Nor do these arrogants "USA and other countries" (merrily forgetting there is something else in the world than Europe and the USA plus its satellites) who think there is no second chance ever, and no right to ensure one's personal data are correct, and no rigth to privacy either -- to mention only some of the personal-data-related rights that are given to me by my own European country (note that, as some have said, other European countries may have these rights in a less formal way, as a result of case law) and that I can successfully use to deter French spammers while I still have to suffer US ones. :/

You do not have the right because the government says so, but rather because you are a human being. Though that is a principle that is explicitly stated in the US constitution, it applies everywhere. However, it is a right that is made explicit in the EU and where the conditions under which the right may be infringed are perhaps more clearly stated (and better enforced) than elsewhere. There is a danger in explicitly stating rights, in that some stupid people might think you have no other rights — not true! — but leaving them all implicit has other risks in that it becomes hard to say for sure when they've been unreasonably infringed and to get other people to help you out defending them.

Re:National Boundaries (1)

aaribaud (585182) | about 4 months ago | (#47542201)

You do not have the right because the government says so, but rather because you are a human being.

Er... Indeed. But I don't think anyone here said this right was granted by a government. We do have separation of powers here too. :)

Though that is a principle that is explicitly stated in the US constitution, it applies everywhere.

You mean everywhere in the U.S., right? Because otherwise, it would be a case of trying to apply the US law beyond the borders of the US, which, I think, is the exact mirror of a (rightful) criticism in another comment about the EU supposedly trying to reach beyon the EU borders [actually, the question was misunderstood by the commenter, but that's another point].

However, it is a right that is made explicit in the EU and where the conditions under which the right may be infringed are perhaps more clearly stated (and better enforced) than elsewhere.

There is a danger in explicitly stating rights, in that some stupid people might think you have no other rights — not true! — but leaving them all implicit has other risks in that it becomes hard to say for sure when they've been unreasonably infringed and to get other people to help you out defending them.

Or even what these rights are exactly. However, concerning your fear about restricting rights to those expressed: this is pretty much handled in article 4 of the Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen (the highest French law in terms of precedence), which (roughly translated) states that one's rights should only be limited when their exercise deprives someone else from their own rights, and that these limitations should be expressed in the law. IOW, our rights start unlimited, and law only limits them -- what is not prohibited is allowed.

Re:National Boundaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47542177)

Americans whining about "national borders"? thats rich. if anything this just makes europe an even peer to america in this area (but i realise that is an issue for americans - fair is only fair when _i_ am on top and its _my_ rules)

Interesting (1)

chowdahhead (1618447) | about 4 months ago | (#47542269)

"6. Do you notify website publishers of delisting? In that case, which legal basis do you have to notify website publishers?" Laws are restrictive not permissive. The response from the search engines should be "by what legal basis do you have to prevent us from notifying website publishers?"
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