EU Regulators Want Google To Expand Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide And To Stop Telling What Links Have Been Forgotten

from the worldwide-censorship dept

We’ve been covering the ridiculous ruling in the EU on the “right to be forgotten,” which was interpreted to mean that search engines could be forced to delete links to perfectly truthful stories (and even if those stories are allowed to be kept online). Google has been trying to comply with the over 90,000 requests it has received — nearly half of which it has approved — and removed from its European searches. The company has been struggling to figure out how to comply with the ruling, and those struggles continue. Originally, it was going to place a notice on search results pages where links had been removed (like it does with copyright takedowns) alerting people that stories were missing. However, regulators told Google that would defeat the purpose. So now, Google’s European search results show a message on nearly every search on a “name” that results might have been removed.

Either way, once Google started removing the requested stories, it did the right thing, alerting the websites that links were being removed. Of course, that just resulted in many of those publications writing about it, and bringing the original news back into the public eye.

In response to all of this, European regulators are apparently quite angry again, summoning representatives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (but mainly Google) to argue that the removals should be global, not just for Europe and that the companies should stop informing websites if their stories were removed. One hopes that these three companies would fight strongly against either such proposal. The idea that Europe can dictate how search engines in other parts of the world work is dangerous. We’ve already noted that a Canadian court seems to think it has similar powers, and that’s going to create a huge mess. Any time courts and regulators in one country think they can dictate how websites work in other countries, that is creating a massive jurisdictional mess (where contradictory rulings may run into each other), as well as allowing oppressive states to claim they, too, have the right to dictate how the web works in more open countries.

As for blocking sites from being informed, that would clearly go against basic transparency principles, and lead to yet another huge mess for websites which will (quite reasonably) wonder why their stories have gone totally missing from Google searches (especially if forced to extend it around the globe).

Of course, the real problem here is with the original ruling. The idea that public information that is widely disseminated already can magically be made private because someone thinks it’s embarrassing and that it’s no longer important is simply a ridiculous assertion in the first place. All of the problems that have come in implementing this are because the initial premise — trying to disappear public information — is so messed up.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: google, microsoft, yahoo

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “EU Regulators Want Google To Expand Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide And To Stop Telling What Links Have Been Forgotten”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
56 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nah, just replace the search results with a message, something along the lines of:

‘Thanks to recent legal obligations imposed upon us by the EU Regulatory courts, it has become too legally problematic to allow anyone from EU countries to use our services. If you would like to object to these new legal impositions that we face, and the effects they are having on you, we have put together a simple form which will allow you to contact your government representatives, and tell them what you think.

Unfortunately, until the law is changed, we can no longer offer you access to our services, as the legal liabilities we could face are too problematic. We apologize for this inconvenience, and hope the issue will be cleared up soon.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:22pm

This is likely the only way to both comply with the ruling and comply with the local laws. You’d have to block the eu from accessing any search engines based elsewhere.

This sort of blocking in the US would run into a mess of first amendment issues for example

The entire thing is rediculous

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: One question

I think a more interesting question is what if a U.S. citizen wants to block his name from appearing in a search engine worldwide. All he has to do is potentially get a ruling in the EU saying that his name be blocked there and then his name must get blocked in the U.S. too or else Goolge will be violating EU law.

AJ says:

Actions have consequences, by removing the consequences your just going to encourage more of those actions. All this law is going to do is allow people to think that they can erase the stupid shit they do when they are caught doing it. How is that a good thing?

If you don’t want your stupid shit all over the internet, then don’t do the stupid shit in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

To be fair, there is a lot of crazy smear going viral too. As soon as something is out of the bag, you will have to live with it even if it is untrue. Suing the original poster for defamation is not gonna help one bit in that case.

The solution, as with online reputation smearing, is to change name. Putting the wine back in the bottle is just not easy as soon as it is in your stomach to defile an analogy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Actions have consequences

I agree, but I saw someone post the reasoning behind this ruling which is rather eye opening.

I most of western Europe, people convicted of crimes are not named publicly. The idea is that crime is a symptom of a failure in society, rather than something that they should take all the blame for. By not forever shaming the individual, you encourage rehabilitation.

Even criminal record checks are handled to protect the individual. If your criminal record check returns as unsatisfactory, the individual is told first so they can withdraw their application to a job.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t wait until Iran, N. Korea, and China start insisting Google needs to censor/forget their global search results. Islamist will require all Christian links be removed from Google, across the world.

What the hell are these brain dead politicians and justices thinking! They need knocked off their high horses before their totalitarian power-trip inflicts serious damage on what’s left of free society.

Right to be forgetting is a law attempting to undermine any accountability public officials face, by censoring the media.

JWW (profile) says:

Re: This is why

In fact, depending on what is demanded to be taken down, Europe fighting to have someones comment removed may violate that person’s free speech rights in the United States.

Whose laws hold precedent? Does Europe get to violate American’s rights to free speech because that have a law that censors that American’s speech on the internet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: This is why

Google could just censor everything like the EU tells them to. After all, it wouldn’t be illegal for Google, a private company, to censor its own links. The EU can’t violate the First Amendment because it only applies to the US government.

Which laws apply? All of them, of course. It might be impossible soon for some companies to operate in both the US and the EU due to conflicting data retention/data privacy laws.

They have the option of pulling out of Europe, I guess.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This is why

The EU can’t violate the First Amendment because it only applies
> to the US government.

No, it applies to any government action if taken against US citizens in the US. In this case, the EU is a government acting against a US company and attempting to censor speech inside the US. That brings them under the umbrella of the 1st Amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It is because the politicians don’t know what they are talking about. It took a massive scandal for politicians here to even acknowledge that there is something called security that may be considered important. Still the older regressive politicians are moving towards the opinion that Google is evil and has to be put in place. The problem is that they think Europe is the world and anything online is European only. Welcome to reality parliamentarians…

Vel the Enigmatic says:

What I think the real issue here is...

-is that the reason they want this to be worldwide is so politicians can give themselves a free pass to having a crud-free record for elections among other things. Namely in the EU. By doing so, they deprive the opposition of any ammo against them, leaving with nothing but heresay, rumors, and other questionable information with which to fight bad decisions and corruption.

By being corrupt, they get paid more by the people who pay them to get what they want out of the law. That’s the main reason the fight against corruption has been so long and hard thus far: the politicians wanting to get paid more than they are getting, thinking it’s not enough.

On another note, if RTBF was expanded all over the world, what’s to say it wouldn’t be used to keep us from being able to fight back against secret legislation deals like SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/CISPA that were leaked by people hopefully because it was the right thing to do. Someone could pre-empt this possibly by asking Google (more like threatening them, I’ll bet) to remove anything about said agreements as it comes up, reducing the number of people such leaks get to and thus weakening opposition.

So unless the leak spreads like wildfire and everyone has it very quickly, we might be looking at the beginning of the government censoring information to disempower people from opposing their decisions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What I think the real issue here is...

The government wrongfully passes broadcasting and cableco monopolies to private interests for private and commercial use. This is an unconstitutional abrogation of my free speech because it’s the government favoring the speech that those monopoly holders prefer while disfavoring the speech they don’t prefer. Such monopoly privileges for private purposes are also fundamentally undemocratic. In a democracy the people are supposed to be able to set the narrative and discuss the topics on a level playing field. When the government unlevels the playing field in favor of a hand full of media conglomerates by setting broadcasting and cableco monopolies this is antithetical to democratic principles. This is largely why what we have now is not a democracy and the laws we have in place are not democratically decided.

David says:

If anyone in any country can delist a link

If the EU can demand links to be removed from global search engines, I’m sure China will demand all links for Tiananmen Square to be delisted. Russia has a several links I think they would be interested in getting delisted. And I’m sure there’s a bunch of links that countries in the Middle East would like have delisted…

After everyone has all their stuff “forgotten”, what will be left on the search engines will be advertising and puffery.

Brian says:

As was stated in the article, this could be a jurisdictional mess. What happens if an article on the New York Times website is removed from Google searches, the NYT sues over the removal and US courts say Google can’t remove it? Basically you would have the EU saying Google must remove it and the US saying Google can’t remove it. What a mess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You would get a situation where it would be necessary to use an IP-tracker to determine country of origin of every user. Since that is something pretty easy to work around, they are basically going to make the internet less accessible, while the specific reason for the law is made pointless by circumvention techniques (non-search engine related linking, hiding IP etc.).

This law and its interpretation will spiral into the same kind of stinking pile of s… that the cookie directive has become.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What happens if an article on the New York Times website is removed from Google searches, the NYT sues over the removal and US courts say Google can’t remove it?

There would not be such a ruling, because Google has no obligation to list anything. In fact it would be a violation of the 1st Amendment to force them to list something. All the NYT could do is complain publicly. However, I find it extremely unlikely that Google would comply with an EU ruling in the US. The EU court would have no enforcement power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well it depends.

IF Google is found to be a monopoly, and Google has it’s own news service, it could be considered a Sherman Act violation if Google removes links to competitors services even if ordered to do so by foreign governments. Especially if the service Google removes the link from is based and/or targeted outside that foreign governments interests/jurisdiction (e.g. Europe ordering Google US, google.com, to remove a link).

Rock, hard place.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The EU would have enforcement power because Google
> has operations in Europe, and possesses assets there.

Which Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al, should sell off and abandon. Leave their search engines and services available for EU citizens to access on the internet, but get out of those countries physically.

And then they can ignore all this bullshit from the EU courts. Let the judges impotently pound their gavels and demand whatever they want. They won’t get it. Leave those governments with one option: either completely block these immensely popular services nationwide and suffer the repercussions from their citizens, or leave it all the fuck alone and let people be free.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The idea that Europe can dictate how search engines in other parts of the world work is dangerous. We’ve already noted that a Canadian court seems to think it has similar powers, and that’s going to create a huge mess. Any time courts and regulators in one country think they can dictate how websites work in other countries, that is creating a massive jurisdictional mess (where contradictory rulings may run into each other), as well as allowing oppressive states to claim they, too, have the right to dictate how the web works in more open countries.”

How is this any different than what the US does?

Eponymous Coward says:

I think it's obvious how this will go...

More and more as the EU pushes this policy there will be blowback where people route around this; through the use of bots to crawl for censored stories, and setting up sites that document those results. It plays into the adage that the internet treats censorship as damage and this will be corrected/quarantined regardless the law. In other words it just becomes this Groundhog Day starring Napster all over and over and over again seeing how politicians and governments fail to realize they can’t control this, only slow it down.

Rekrul says:

The idea that Europe can dictate how search engines in other parts of the world work is dangerous. We’ve already noted that a Canadian court seems to think it has similar powers, and that’s going to create a huge mess. Any time courts and regulators in one country think they can dictate how websites work in other countries, that is creating a massive jurisdictional mess (where contradictory rulings may run into each other), as well as allowing oppressive states to claim they, too, have the right to dictate how the web works in more open countries.

They’re just following the US’s lead. After all, the US thinks it can police the entire internet, (MegaUpload anyone?) so why shouldn’t every other country have a hand in screwing things up?

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t agree with this ruling but the amount of commenters here that seem to confuse it with state censorship is scary. It is nothing even close.

The EU weighs the right to an individuals privacy far higher than the United States does, this ruling was a reflection of that.

As for the ‘well don’t serve countries in the EU’ argument, Google makes half it’s profits in the EU it would be commercial suicide.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think it has anything to do with privacy, it has to do with protecting their ego. These sociopaths think their reputation needs to be mended so that they can continue abusing the ignorant.

When mentally stable people screw up, and everyone does, they usually admit it, apologize and move on. The sociopaths attempt to deny, rationalize and blame others for what they have done. They scream about violations of their privacy which is complete bullshit and everyone knows it. They are pathetic and yet receive coddling, it is humanistic but counterproductive in that it reinforces their behavior.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“As for the ‘well don’t serve countries in the EU’ argument, Google makes half it’s profits in the EU it would be commercial suicide.”

Hardly commercial suicide. If their revenue were cut in half, they’d still be pretty damned profitable. If they were to actually start censoring search results for the whole world, though, it would be another blow to their usefulness and reputation. That will also harm their business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s just say that Google pulls everything out of the EU, and that this invalidates any legal/economic way for the EU to control it. Guess what? Google.com is still accessible from the EU.

That means that enforcement of the RTBF will fall on wholly internal mechanisms: visiting non-EU search engines will become a prosecutable offence, which means that everyone accessing the internet will have to be identified and monitored. TOR, VPNs, and proxies will have to be criminalized. Basically, enforcing the RTBF will require 24X7 surveillance of every single citizen’s internet activity.

Way to go with that whole “privacy” thing, EU.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Jurisdiction

> websites which will (quite reasonably) wonder why their stories have gone totally missing from Google searches (especially if forced to extend it around the globe).

The EU *can’t* force Google to extend its censorship around the globe. Maybe it thinks it can, but it can’t tell an American company how it has to operate in America (or Japan or China, etc.).

Or, more accurately, it can tell Google that, but Google does not have to comply, nor is there any way for the EU to force them to.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...