Pedophile, Embarrassed Politician And Disliked Doctor Kick Off Attempts To Delete Their Histories From Google

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

We’ve already written about a dangerous ruling from the EU Court of Justice that says that Google can be forced to stop linking to factual information about someone online. Not surprisingly, people with pasts they wish everyone would forget have already started lining up to get those embarrassing histories wiped. According to the BBC:

An ex-politician seeking re-election has asked to have links to an article about his behaviour in office removed.

A man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction to be wiped.

And a doctor wants negative reviews from patients removed from the results.

This is exactly what people predicted would happen. The EU court has more or less opened the door to widespread censorship of factual information that people find embarrassing. Those who keep cheering this ruling on as a victory for “privacy” don’t seem to understand what privacy means. Public information about bad things you did is not private information. People may not like having it online and available, but it is difficult to see a legitimate reason for pulling it off.

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Comments on “Pedophile, Embarrassed Politician And Disliked Doctor Kick Off Attempts To Delete Their Histories From Google”

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Out Of The Blue says:

A formal request...

Dearest techdirtbags and google appologists! I do hereby request that you remove all of the posts that your abusive stupid contributors and readers reported, so that everyone in the world will now realize how awesomely awesome I am.

NOT Respectfully submitted,
Out Of The Blue JD/PhD

Secret confirmation code to ensure security code:

Anonymous Coward says:

Since this applies to Google. I wonder if individuals can force Facebook to delete posts off other people’s facebook walls, if it contains information about them they do not want to be public. I suppose the same can happen with Twitter now, and every single website on the internet.

I find it ironic that the EU justices went after Google, instead of the actual websites hosting the ‘infringing’ content. I suppose it makes sense to handle it this way, if you view Google as the internet.

Duke (profile) says:

I think the later part of that article is the important bit, where the lawyer suggests that Google could just refer the requests to the ICO to deal with. As the article notes, this is about removing “irrelevant and outdated information”, I’m not sure if any of the three examples classifies, or if their right to privacy about that information will outweigh the wider public interest in the information being accessible.

Adrian Lopez says:

Re: Re:

The proper way to deal with “outdated” information is to supplement it with up-to-date information. If the outdated information is of a kind that refusing to update it basically amounts to a lie, only then is it reasonable to limit its disclosure. Furthermore, any limitations should apply only to those actually repeating the information, and never to the people indexing it.

As for “irrelevant” information: irrelevant with respect to what, exactly? If it’s irrelevant to what you’re searching for, then you’re probably not using the right search terms (Google is very careful about providing results which are relevant to your choice of keywords). If it’s irrelevant in a more general sense, however, it makes me wonder why it was ever considered relevant enough to be published.

To recognize “irrelevant and outdated” as valid standard for the law is to require that speech be relevant and up to date. That’s a ridiculous standard upon which to judge a person’s right to speak about anything.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If it the information was publicly disclosed, it is available even if someone has to search literal library stacks. All any search engine does is make finding online information easier. The problem with the ruling is it confuses one’s public life with one’s private life. What one does in public, as a business, or shared online is by default now public.

An interesting question about surveillance cameras in Europe; does anyone have the right to have footage wiped?

Adrian Lopez says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

(from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:


We at Google have responded to your request, and have listed you as both a painter, an author, and a reknown moustache trend-setter.

To complete the job, we have also re-defined “Godwin’s Law” as:
“In any Internet discussion, it is only a matter of time before someone feigns being a doge or a cat who mis-spells words like “i can has cheezburger”.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Well that didn't take long

It hasn’t even been a week since the ruling.

Ex-politician wanting links to articles about his activities in office removed? Screw you buddy, you’re a public figure, you don’t get that luxury.

Man convicted of having child porn wants links about his conviction taken down? You’re a sex offender dirtbag, you lost any “right-to-be-forgotten” a long time ago.

As for the doctor? No. Just… no.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:

Convicted in a court of law by a jury of their peers.

Public information about bad things you did is not private information. People may not like having it online and available, but it is difficult to see a legitimate reason for pulling it off.

While I’d hate to be made to pay for something stupid I did for the rest of my life, the smart thing to do is get it expunged by asking the site on which the information is held to remove it.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: I wonder...

Google, at least, has been pretty good so far about making sure local filtering laws do not impact everyone else. I think it is likely they will filter search results to accomodate these laws based on the geographical location of the user – thus making it really easy for Europeans to bypass.

Other search engines – who knows?

Adrian Lopez says:

Re: Re: I wonder...

You may be right, but some people claim it has broader implications than that. Said EU’s justice commissioner Viviane Reding: “Today’s court judgment is a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans. Companies can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else.” (source)

Jessie (profile) says:

I think the quickest way to get this fixed is for google to take a scorched earth approach. If you file to have info removed, in an over abundance of caution, in those countries where this applies, no search results containing your name will appear. That way they can argue that it is safer for google legally since they don’t regulate what is on the net. This will last until the politicians realize now no one can google their election site and that the public then knows that they had something they wanted to hide. Then the law will change fast.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: John Smiths

Per the verdict, “the search provider” can only be requested to remove:

– specific pages
– as results of searches based on the person’s name
– if the information is not still relevant to the public at large
– (and the requester can document that he is the person referred to on the page)

Google shouldn’t get to decide #3, and #4 is bloody hard, so just reject all requests and let the “privacy seeking individual” escalate it to the courts if they are serious.

The “early adapters” are probably politicians trying to make a story about themselves, and they are public figures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does this create a market opportunity for other search providers?

If there is no central clearinghouse for “amnesia” requests — so that this is basically a notice-and-takedown regime for search — does this create a market opportunity for other search engines that haven’t been noticed (and haven’t taken down links)?

Anonymous Coward says:

Policy implosion

This is one of those situations where the policies are so messed up, that they will inevitably create so much trouble that the system will basically collapse under it’s own weight– thus creating the opportunity to restore sanity.

Tragically, I find myself hoping for copyright and patent maximalists to get their wishes for exactly the same reason. It is unlikely that there will ever be any sanity in those areas until after they have completely destroyed the economy.

Dr. Dave says:

Right to Free Speech

What about my right to free speech. Why should a right to privacy trump the right to free speech. If I write post something on the internet about what a bad doctor, it is my right to have my voice heard. One right is getting trumped by another in this case.

The only situation I can see where it would not be is if I posted something about myself (ie a stupid picture) and decided it was a poor decision. This is the only situation where it seems someone should be allowed to demand something is erased from the internet, if it is even possible to truly delete.

Anonymous Coward says:

Forbidden List

Okay, so now all Google needs to do is make sure that people know what not to post on their social networks. So they’ll put up a big list of court forbidden content, like so.

“Mentioning that took bribes in the form of access to livestock in exchange for government contracts is forbidden. Also forbidden is mentioning that was given negative reviews for doing routine surgery drunk and causing no less than three people to lose limbs and two deaths. Likewise you can’t mention that was found with two terabytes of child pornography.”

Zingba says:



The whole reason the concept of records expungement even exists is the idea that people shouldn’t be held over a barrel for something they did for the rest of their lives. Naturally, there are some offenses for which there is no records expungement, some people lose the right to expungement if reoffending, etc, etc, etc… All these protocols were put into place BEFORE the internet existed and became a permanent digital dossier on people. Likewise, public records laws are rooted in a time when government records weren’t digitally available and regurgitated into peoples living rooms for fun and profit.

Does ‘right to be forgotten’ have issues to sort out? Yes, for example, the pedophile or doctor with legit complaints thing. That’s a tricky world but as with all laws, there is rarely a black and white answer. I think its possible to err on the side of free speech but while allowing a mechanism to keep peoples lives from being ruined. The devil will be in the details, idealogues won’t like it either way but the internet really changed the game and requires a fresh look at how information is distributed.

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