Former NSA Lawyer Asks Google To 'Forget' All Of Techdirt's Posts About Him

from the making-a-point-about-bad-laws dept

Former NSA counsel and surveillance/security state hypeman Stewart Baker has had just about enough of Techdirt making “distorted claims” about his statements for the “purposes of making money.” To counter this, he’s sent a “right to be forgotten” request to Google stating the following:

https://www.techdirt.com/blog/?tag=stewart+baker

Reason this link violates the right to be forgotten:

This link is inappropriate. It compiles stories making many distorted claims about my political views. Political views are a particularly sensitive form of personal data. The stories are written by men who disagree with me, and they are assembled for the purpose of making money for a website, a purpose that cannot outweigh my interest in controlling the presentation of sensitive data about myself.

Baker’s certainly not hoping for Techdirt’s posts on him to be de-listed (although I imagine he’d indulge in a chuckle or two if they went down). He’s mocking the ridiculousness of the “right to be forgotten” ruling Google is now attempting to comply with. He has submitted other requests as well over such things as outdated photos and “inaccurate” statements as the kickoff to an informal “hack” of a bad law.

I feel bad for Google, which is stuck trying to administer this preposterous ruling. But that shouldn’t prevent us from showing quite concretely how preposterous it is.

I propose a contest. Let’s all ask for takedowns. The person who makes the most outrageous (and successful) takedown request will win a “worst abuse of privacy law” prize, otherwise known as a Privy.

Stewart’s takedown request targeting Techdirt is mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it does highlight the sort of abuse that should be expected when government bodies attempt to force the internet to bend to their will. Granting a “right to be forgotten” pretty much ensures that a majority of the requests will be no more legitimate than Baker’s.

Multiple advocates for the law have compared it with the infamous DMCA takedown notice, something that has also been routinely abused. But at least the DMCA takedown carries with it the (almost never enforced) charge of perjury for issuing bogus takedowns. The RTBF form simply asks for a copy of the submitter’s identification. There’s nothing in it to discourage abuse of the system. If you don’t like something someone has said about you on the web, just fill out a webform.

While we at Techdirt disagree with most of what Stewart Baker says, at least his position on privacy remains consistent. His “Privys” — an “award” given to the worst or most hypocritical abuser of privacy laws — have generally been awarded to worthy recipients, usually people who tend to think these laws exist to save them from their own embarrassments.

As for the “right to be forgotten,” it appears as though requests may be forwarded to Chilling Effects. On June 6th, this test post showed up in the database.

A request has been made to remove one or more links from a search page under European “right to be forgotten” rules, following Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos, Mario Costeja Gonzalez.

The body of the post contains nothing but the word “TEST” but this seems to indicate that an attempt will be made to publish takedown attempts. At this point, it’s impossible to say how much information will be redacted, or if the European Commission will even allow this sort of transparency. Google is also toying with appending messages to the bottom of search results pages indicating that link(s) may have been removed due to “RTBF” requests. If this works like DMCA requests do, then a link to Chilling Effects database will be provided. These measures won’t necessarily deter abuse, but they will make it much easier to track.

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Comments on “Former NSA Lawyer Asks Google To 'Forget' All Of Techdirt's Posts About Him”

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49 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 1. Read article 2. Post comment

In particular read this bit, which makes it pretty clear his goal wasn’t to get anything pulled, but to highlight how ridiculous the idea is:

‘I feel bad for Google, which is stuck trying to administer this preposterous ruling. But that shouldn’t prevent us from showing quite concretely how preposterous it is.

I propose a contest. Let’s all ask for takedowns. The person who makes the most outrageous (and successful) takedown request will win a “worst abuse of privacy law” prize, otherwise known as a Privy.’

vancedecker (profile) says:

Yes, keep it going TD! Keep kissing massa’s ass! All praise be to Google. All praise be to our corporate masters!

You don’t like comment you made 20 years ago when you were just a kid? NO? TOO BAD! What would all the senseless bitches discuss on their mommy blogs? It’s a serious topic, and you must be screened, retroactively, for everything google manages to index. What would HR do all day?

“Oh? the NSA is doing the same thing.”

“NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNO! That’s different!”

-another silly stupid brain damaged TechDirt reader

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“You don’t like comment you made 20 years ago when you were just a kid?”

You know, there were archives before the Internet Archive and search engines before Google. I can still (rather easily) find comments that I made online over 30 years ago. There are numerous public and private archives of mailing lists and Usenet newsgroups from that era, and they’re not going away. (One project, http://olduse.net/ is reposting them.)

There is no way to make those go away. No legislation, no litigation, no court orders, nothing is going to ever make those go away. There are and will be copies squirreled away on disks and CDs, USB sticks and tapes, all over the planet, and they’ll be copied to new media as old ones age out. (1600 BPI 9-track -> 8mm -> DVD -> flash, for example.) And nothing will ever stop anyone from re-releasing them — say, as a torrent — should they choose to do so.

That paragraph isn’t a value judgment on whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s a reality assessment. And this farsical EU “right to be forgotten” is in direct conflict with reality, which is why — regardless of its theoretical merits or lack thereof — it will never, ever happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Same thing?

Google indexes publicly available information on websites that people choose to post where the Robots exclusion standard can be used to prevent the Google indexing.

The NSA takes every piece of data it can without any official or unofficial form of disclosure agreement for systems and communications where citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Google isn’t perfect, but you can block them with robots.txt and you can decline to post to websites that allow Google indexing.

You can’t escape from the NSA’s data collection without having to go off grid.

But don’t let reality get in the way of your FUD.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

TechDirt Takedown

Dear Google,

Please take remove all references to TechDirt on the Internetz as every mention maligns me with their spurious reference to ‘tech’. As a person with a high percentage of Neanderthal DNA, and living high on a mountain in a cave and using only tools created by my ancestors, tech is not even in my vocabulary, and is therefore insulting to my personage.

Sincerely,

Joe Dirt

Anonymous Coward says:

“Multiple advocates for the law have compared it with the infamous DMCA takedown notice, something that has also been routinely abused. But at least the DMCA takedown carries with it the (almost never enforced) charge of perjury for issuing bogus takedowns.”

Also, at least the DMCA is trying to address a real offense: unauthorized copying. “Right to be forgotten” doesn’t even deal with a real offense: Posting truthful information is not itself illegal, even in places like the UK where the laws are so fucked up that those accused of libel have to prove their statements are true.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think the whole idea of the “right to be forgotten” is to make it so that revealing truthful information is in some cases illegal – just as the idea of “copyright” is to make it so that creating a copy of a piece of information is in some cases illegal.

Both “rights” are created only by government and law; if the government and the law says it’s forbidden, then it is by definition illegal.

The dispute (or part thereof) is about whether, to what extent, and/or with what penalties or other remedies such things should be illegal.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: not european

I expect better from a US-based lawyer:

Did you read the article?

“Baker’s certainly not hoping for Techdirt’s posts on him to be de-listed (although I imagine he’d indulge in a chuckle or two if they went down). He’s mocking the ridiculousness of the “right to be forgotten” ruling Google is now attempting to comply with.”

andypandy says:

Why

Oh why are people still using google to search the internet, they are slowly becoming the most useles search engine out there and hopefully someone will come along very soon with a search engine that does what google does but better, with a statment that they are a search engine nothign more and that they search the internet for content that the user is searching for and refuse to be the big brother and block any searches or restrict any searches like Google does.

I liked the fact that i could do a search on google and do so for images and places and quickly do a google maps search etc, Google is very useful but others are catching up and using the same robot files Google uses to do searches.

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