Thomas Goolnik Really Wants To Be Forgotten: Google Disappears Our Post About His Right To Be Forgotten Request

from the we-await-next-week's-notification dept

Last week we wrote about receiving our very first Right To Be Forgotten notice from Google, disappearing an earlier post that talked about articles in the NY Times that had been disappeared thanks to other RTBF requests. Yes, someone used a RTBF request to remove our article about the RTBF which was referencing other articles that someone had removed via a RTBF request.

And… yesterday we received a notification that this new article was also chucked down the memory hole thanks to a RTBF request, so that anyone who searches on a particular name in Europe will no longer see that article either. At this point, it’s fairly clear that it’s Thomas Goolnik who is making all of these RTBF requests, as he’s the only individual named. We don’t think either of our articles should be removed even under the EU’s laws that allow for a RTBF, because those laws only apply to out of date/irrelevant information, and the fact that Goolnik has just now made a RTBF request in an attempt to censor us and to edit his own Google results is not obsolete information and is entirely relevant and newsworthy.

I figure it’s highly likely that it won’t be long before we get a notice telling us that this article, too, has been removed, so I’d like to add a special note to the Google RTBF reviewer reading this post: We are purposely not mentioning the details of the original story that Thomas Goolnik would no longer like to be associated with. Even if you believe that information is no longer relevant, this article does not discuss that. Instead, it discusses newsworthy and relevant information about Thomas Goolnik today, which is that he’s filing a series of right to be forgotten requests to Google on any story that mentions his attempts to use the RTBF to delete his history. The original EU ruling clearly states that that when a search engine is evaluating a RTBF request, that it should see if the data is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” This is not about irrelevant information from the past. This is about what appears to have happened this week or last.

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Comments on “Thomas Goolnik Really Wants To Be Forgotten: Google Disappears Our Post About His Right To Be Forgotten Request”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Lessons from George Orwell's 1984

All supporters of RTBF (Right To Be Forgotten).

You really need to learn the lessons of history from George Orwell’s 1984.

When the Ministry of Truth wanted to make something, or someone be forgotten — they did it! You need to adopt their tactics. Then everyone will be happy. (Because you tell them that they are happy.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I never heard of him before now

DuckDuckGo in the UK, puts the Techdirt articles at the top of the search, but within the first page it becomes obvious someone wants the world to forget that he settled with the FTC for selling domain names that only worked for people who installed software to use an alternative domain name system. One wonders what his next business idea is?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: I never heard of him before now

via duckduckgo wikipedia entry:

DuckDuckGo emphasizes getting information from the best sources rather than the most sources, generating its search results from key crowdsourced sites such as Wikipedia and from partnerships with other search engines like Yandex, Yahoo!, Bing, and Yummly.[5][6]

DuckDuckGo is built primarily upon search APIs from various vendors. Because of this, TechCrunch characterized the service as a “hybrid” search engine.[20][21] At the same time, it produces its own content pages, and thus is similar to Mahalo, Kosmix and SearchMe.[22]

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Assbaggery

Pro-tip: Calling someone an assbag (or whatever) doesn’t contribute to the conversation and just gets you reported.

Actually going into details re: And this is why what you’re doing is assbaggery and you shouldn’t actually contributes.

Bonus: Try doing that without the name-calling and you may find yourself taken entirely more seriously.

Or maybe you get jollies from just calling people names to the point that no-one takes you seriously at all. In which case, carry on.

Fred says:

Re: Re:

I really don’t know why this troll even bothers, knowing full well he/she/it will be voted down and made a laughing stock. Insulting language is really scraping the barrel and normally shows a distinct lack of intelligence with the perpetrator having nothing constructive to say or offer. Suggest the person concerned flushes themselves down the nearest toilet at the earliest opportunity.

Baron von Robber says:

Oh my

I hope nobody posts any link about Thomas Goolnik at other search engines!;_ylt=AnuQaaH4qBTGQ2d1Z3K0edqbvZx4?p=thomas+goolnik&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-901&fp=1


Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Oh my

Which points to

So it’s a person that was convicted due to frauds it seems. Maybe he’s trying to get forgotten in Europe to apply the same trick there? In any case the fraud convictions wouldn’t be enough to make me think of him as a bad person (I do believe people deserve to be reintegrated and have full rights once they finish paying for their crimes) but this isn’t the type of attitude that builds trust. And as you pointed out there are plenty of workarounds to find said info.

On a side note we seem to be in need of a Chilling Effects for everything in Europe.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: convicted due to fraud

If he’s served out his sentence, he deserves to be reintegrated and have full rights.

But just because he has full rights doesn’t mean people oughtn’t take into account the fact that he was convicted of fraud and his current attitude about it.

To my mind, attempting to make that fact disappear indicates that he hasn’t yet accepted that he did wrong and was justly punished for it.

Which seems to me currently relevant to trusting Mr. Goolnik.

It’s one thing if a ex-con says “I did wrong, I acknowledge it, I’m sorry”. I might give that guy a chance.

But if he says “conviction? what conviction?”, I know he hasn’t given up his evil ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh my

Neat! I didn’t realize Dogpile was still around 🙂

I bet you can also find stuff about Thomas Goolnik here: although I’m guessing that might redirect inside the EU to a local version.

And then of course, you could search and find some interesting results. Searching for “Thomas Goolnik ftc” on returns interesting stuff too, and the FTC stuff still shows up even when just searching for “Thomas Goolnik”.

I did an experiment, and pulled up and from a browser using a UK egress point: the differences are mostly the TechDirt articles and the NY Times articles are gone (this one’s still there). Yes, the NY Times article talking about the disappearance of the previous article is also gone.

Something else I find interesting is that there is nothing on Wikipedia about all this. A search on Wikipedia for Thomas Goolnik turns up… nothing.

Anonymous Coward says:

“disappeared”, “Chunked down the memory hole”, “removed”. It would be nice if you at least included the disclaimer from last time:

“it’s important to note that the stories themselves aren’t erased from Google’s index entirely — they just won’t show up when someone searches on the particular name of the person who complained.”

Cut down on the hyperbole.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hyperbole? So let’s suppose you are hiring someone to work in your house and you are in Europe. Then you decide to check if that person ha any presence online, if they are clean. You know, just in case. Then you get no meaningful results not because there is nothing to see but because that convicted murderer paid his/her time in jail and got out. Sure everybody deserves a second chance but would you like to be in that type of situation?

Or worse yet, the person is in a lawsuit as the defendant against whatever crime but the courts find the stories about it to be irrelevant to the greater good (you know, minor charges and so on or it’s in another continent, you pick the reason). Is it fair in any way?

I can hardly see any hyperbole here. RTBF are a complete travesty, an Orwellian one and should be reported and kept under fire.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you know Google is acting on RTBF notices, why would you use Google to search for a potential employee? Just do what a commenter above did and use Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or even AltaVista.

It still blows my mind that the RTBF only affects ONE search engine rather than disappearing the actual source of the information.

Baron von Robber says:

Re: I wish you'd forget this particular silliness,

Actually, I had forgotten about this, but then Thomas ‘derp’ Goolnik got Google to ‘forget’ about Thomas ‘derp’ Goolnik. Techdirt noticed that Google ‘forgot’ about Thomas ‘derp’ Goolnik whom Thomas ‘derp’ Goolnik apparently defrauded some people. Then I remembered Thomas ‘derp’ Goolnik.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

So when/if these ne’er-do-well’s violate the law again, does this mean one has standing to pursue the EU?

While allowing people to rebuild after past bad acts, it does seem to allow them to easily white wash their past misdeeds and sets others up to be harmed even if they attempt due diligence in researching someone they are dealing with.

If the EU actively allows criminals to hide their history making it easier for them to target new victims one should hold them responsible.

While one can hold up a noble goal of helping someone who did something stupid once reclaim their life, the flipside is this allows criminals to keep committing the same crimes without a public being able to be informed & safer.

Pronounce (profile) says:

Google Reviewers?

Who says a Google RTBF reviewer is human? As a point in case I noticed that Google Maps blurs faces, and I thought that humans did that until I saw the face of a statue blurred, and so now I think it’s face recognition software that does the blurring. I bet Google uses software to do RTBF and not humans. Software won’t recognize your footnote to the reviewer, and will again fail the Turing Test.

New Mexico Mark says:

Another idea

Forward this article (and related ones) to U.S. other media (print, radio, TV) for research and promulgation, except encourage them to dig up and post all details Goolnik wants disappeared — and even ones he hasn’t thought of yet. That way we will be documenting this silliness for historical purposes. This is one I’d love to see go viral.

Anonymous Coward says:

We need to get THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of websites up all with identical content.

Taking bets we can make Thomas Goolnik either give up this worthless crap or have to spent every single waking hour trying to find the (automated) links that spring up every time one is taken down on google.

A simple crawler can search for a story, and if it’s taken down it informs a CGI script to book ANOTHER link of the same item at a slightly different URL…..and on and on….

JF (profile) says:

Now that Google has lost their appeal would TechDirt be willing to sue in the US if Mr. Goolnik tries to memory hole the story? Could make history if the US rules it is a first amendment issue and rules opposite of the EU. Who’s rules does/should Google follow?

john nasher says:

haha you wont be forgotten

Times Articles Removed From Google Results in Europe


Google has notified The New York Times in the last month that links to five articles have been removed from some search results on European versions of its search engine to comply with Europe’s “right to be forgotten.”

The notifications offer vivid examples of the issues involved in Europe’s decision to allow individuals some measure of control over what appears online about themselves.

Of the five articles that Google informed The Times about, three are intensely personal — two wedding announcements from years ago and a brief paid death notice from 2001. Presumably, the people involved had privacy reasons for asking for the material to be hidden.

The other two Times articles are less about personal details than about reputation. And it is this concern — even if the facts are fairly reported — that represents a big difference between the way Europe and the United States regulate, or do not regulate, how information is presented online.

Unlike in the United States, where freedom of expression is a fundamental right that supersedes other interests, Europe views an individual’s privacy and freedom of expression as almost equal rights.

As a matter of policy, Google does not reveal who asked for the material to be shielded, or even what search terms will cause the articles to disappear from results.

A little online research — with the help of search engines — showed that each article had a person with a connection to Europe. Google and privacy lawyers are at loggerheads over whether anyone in the world can ask that material be hidden from European search engines, or only people in Europe.

One Times article that is being shielded from certain searches in Europe is a report from 2002 about a decision by a United States court to close three websites that the federal government accused of selling an estimated $1 million worth of unusable Web addresses. The complaint named three British companies, TLD Network, Quantum Management and TBS Industries, as well as two men who it said controlled the companies: Thomas Goolnik and Edward Harris Goolnik of London.

The case was later settled. Thomas Goolnik did not respond to messages left via social networking sites.

Since May, when the European high court made its initial decision on the right to be forgotten, Google has received roughly 140,000 privacy requests connected to more than 500,000 links, according to the company’s top lawyer. So far, the search giant has approved around half of the requests.

The bulk do not involve news websites. This summer, Google told several European media outlets, including the BBC and The Guardian, that links to some of their online articles had been removed from its European search results. Yet in a bizarre twist, the company later reinstated some of the links to The Guardian’s articles after that paper challenged Google’s decision.

In the last of The Times articles, a feature about a 1998 production of “Villa Villa” by the ensemble called De la Guarda, it was much harder to divine the objection. Not a review, the article explored how the antic, acrobatic show was managing “to get a generation raised on MTV interested in seeing live theater.”

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