Another Right To Be Forgotten Request Backfires Completely

from the the-only-way-it-was-ever-going-to-play-out dept

When the EU Court of Justice issued its "right to be forgotten" ruling, it seemed to forget that there are many more parties involved than simply the aggrieved person standing in front of them. There are those whose articles are being delisted, many of which are journalistic institutions that aren't going to simply lay there and allow some third party to selectively edit their publications.

The Bolton News (UK) just received notification from Google that one of its stories was due to be vanished from Google's search engine. Needless to say, this request has produced another story highlighting the original story the filer(s) wanted delisted.

A STORY in The Bolton News has come under the spotlight of the controversial new "right to be forgotten" ruling…

The 2010 story details a court case in which Ben Barlow, Christopher Mahoney and Christopher Brennan were jailed after they pleaded guilty to violent disorder. They had attacked a group of soldiers who had all served in Afghanistan. The victims told the court they were more frightened in the pub than they had been on the front line.

[...]

In the attack, the thugs glassed paratrooper Adam Evans in the neck and stabbed him in the leg. Another of the soldiers, Jamie Morton, who was kicked and punched on the ground, said he feared he was going to die.

At the trial of the three men, Judge William Morris said: “These victims were all injured. Mr Evans was very gravely injured indeed.”
Someone thought this story should just go away. The Bolton News thought otherwise. Now, whoever wanted the original story delisted has another article to add to a future request. But judging from editor-in-chief's comments, adding Bolton News links to a right to be forgotten request is going to be a waste of time.
“As the editor of a newspaper, I believe passionately in the freedom of the press and I will fight any attempts to remove legitimate content…

“Clearly, people who aren’t happy that stories which we have legitimately published should not have the right to have them removed from a Google search, in my view."
It sounds like the Bolton News will simply highlight each request as it comes in, defeating the requester's attempt to bury bad news. Many other journalism outlets have taken the same stance in the last several days, turning the EU court's ruling into one of the most self-defeating decisions ever rendered.

The only way to prevent this is for the EU court to start taking action against journalistic entities who subvert the spirit of the ruling or ordering Google to stop notifying those affected, neither of which should even be considered by the legal body. The original ruling was terrible enough, especially in its blissful ignorance of how this "right to be forgotten" would work in practice.

Things can be forgotten, even on the internet. But it's organic. Whatever the steady flow of content doesn't push aside will likely succumb to link rot at some point. Newspaper websites (a favorite target of right to be forgotten requests) experiment with paywalled archives or otherwise make their older articles unavailable (often just sloppy maintenance or coding), solving many of these complainants' problems for them. Issuing a request is pretty much guaranteed to bring it all right back to the surface. Forcing this organic process will almost always backfire, something requesters should keep in mind before filling out Google's webform.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    RadioactiveSmurf (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 7:44am

    Right to be remembered

    It's facinating watching this whole thing blow up right in the face of the UK court that enacted this rediculous law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    They always forget the Law of unintended consequences

    Otherwise known as the 'B...Bu...But I didn't mean it like that' effect

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    bmarsh (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    Maybe the EU court can use this law to forget this law was ever enacted?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:29am

    Dear Google,
    I hope you are well. I hate to be a bother, but I see my name listed in TONS of searches on your site. Think you could be a doll and remove them for me? My name is Adolf Hitler. Thanks! Kisses!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:31am

    Good on Google

    By Google telling the sites that are getting pages deindexed, it allows full public shaming and Streisanding of the original content. This stupid EU ruling may have a good side effect by highlighting those butthurt by journalists writing about their actions.

    For those who want their comment for an article deleted, how about asking the site to delete your comment instead of deindexing the whole page?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    Someone should really submit that request.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    mr. sim (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    the court is just going to have to admit that they can not remove any request involving the erasing of criminal or civil charges. honestly the court should have known the sheer amount of criminals who would try to use this to wipe their crimes from the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Call me Al, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    Re: Right to be remembered

    EU court not UK.

    We can be blamed for many things but not this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:02am

    No right to hide convictions

    Whatever one's view on the right to be forgotten, such a right should never grant convicted criminals any right to censor private speech concerning their lawfully imposed convictions.

    Under the First Amendment, we have an absolut right to repeat that John Smith was convicted of theft and shame him forever.

    It can't be libel if it's true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    Re: No right to hide convictions

    There is a 'tiny' problem with your argument.
    There is no first amendment in the EU.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:22am

    This is a double-edged sword in that it could also be used by crafty individuals to *keep* themselves in the news ("any press is good press").

    Perhaps manipulations of this law could eventually be stymied with some sort of dynamic url system, where urls systematically change over time, ensuring perpetually "freshened" entries in web-crawler caches (although this would pose some challenges to long term hot-linking, etc.).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    (although this would pose some challenges to long term hot-linking, etc.).

    Depends on whether or not Google is diligent enough that they de-index the target of a 301 or 302 redirect from a page subjected to the right to be forgotten as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Gil Fulbright, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    First Kentucky next the World.

    Maybe the court and politicians for EU were just trying to pay some lip service to the people of the EU. You know make it look like they are doing something when in reality they aren't able to or don't want to do anything.

    ~I'm Gil Fulbright and I approve this message created by someone else

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    RadioactiveSmurf (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Right to be remembered

    My mistake. Thanks for the correction

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:57am

    love it ! ! !

    surprised any media whore has the wherewithal to do such a thing, but MAJOR kudos to them for doing so...

    enough media outlets did this, it would not only render that decision moot, but make the 'offended' parties think twice about stirring up more bad pub...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re:

    It would be awesomely funny. *looks at the form*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: No right to hide convictions

    No, the EU legal system is one big amendment. Mostly German.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Krish (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

    Re:

    Calling this an unintended consequence does a disservice to real, bona fide unintended consequences. You're going to hurt their feelings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 17th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Enough egg to make a couple dozen omelets

    The judges who threw together the disastrous 'Right to be forgotten' thing have got to be seriously put out at this point. With Google telling people/groups when something is about to be de-listed, their ruling has caused the exact opposite of what they wanted, showcasing just how stupid it really was.

    Given that, and despite the 'neither of which should even be considered by the legal body' line in the article, I would not be surprised in the least if they try and go back and order Google to stop informing those affected, since to do otherwise would be to admit to having ruled wrong the first time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 6:18pm

    This request proves what has been said before about the "right to be forgotten." The interests of the victims and the public in knowing that these guys were convicted should outweigh the interests of these guys in being forgotten. The story doesn't belong to the convicts, but to the victims. Unless the victims want it forgotten, the convicts should have no recourse in its remaining in the public memory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 8:07pm

    The name of this law should be changed to the right to be censored.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 8:31pm

    Re:

    More properly referred to as Mike's "Streisand Effect", in spades.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Mark Noo, Jul 17th, 2014 @ 10:42pm

    News stories disappear all the time

    I have reblogged stories that resulted in broken links and a lost images in a matter of days.
    These things are theoretically here forever, however, if they don't get any attention, they disappear quite quickly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 3:44am

    Interesting. Do you notice that every time you write about how the "right to be forgotten" fails you actually report a success story?

    - First there is no censorship here. Google search engine is about algorithms, not free speech (this is Google+). I don't have a source but I remember Google saying that the search results are computed by algorithms and Google is "not guilty" for whatever the rsult is.

    - Critics usually point out that the "stupid European judges" "censor" the search engine but not the newspaper. This would be censorship. News in newspapers are done by real people, right?

    - But ... no sorry, if oue equate "Google" and "the Internet" it's just your fault. Everybody could visit the relevant newspaper and look what they have and the newspapers could even set up a search engine for their archives. Ok, they don't.

    - The "right to be forgotten": I think everybody should have the right that things he or she did are forgotten after some time. Just as the guys at Joe's Diner stop talking (and laughing) about this stupid thing you did in high school. Before Google this happened automatically. Now "not forgetting" is part of a business model (yes, no free speech - just money)

    - What the European judges really said that personal information can be removed from Google if it's "out of interest". Example: Did anybody here knew about the Spanish guy starting this? So why should anyone care? This is "out of interest".

    - Of course also people more public try to remove information they don't like to see but as long as these persons are in the public the information are still "of interest". Such people are just streisanding.

    - Summary: the judges said something like "Google shall not replace real human's memory".

    If you are interested in any information Google is removing from their search results ("convicted John Smith") feel free to post it on Google+ ("John Smith convicted criminal" and no one - even not the European Court - is keeping you from this. This is (I think) free speech and can be added to Google's search results.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 18th, 2014 @ 7:51pm

    Re:

    Sounds like someone has something embarrassing to hide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Fahirrsch, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: No right to hide convictions

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2014 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: No right to hide convictions

    The EU court has no jurisdiction outside Europe.
    Why does Google even comply outside the court's jurisdiction?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re:

    More properly referred to as Mike's "Streisand Effect", in spades.

    There's the Streisand Effect of each individual takedown request, but there are also the unintended consequences of the judgment itself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    Re:

    First there is no censorship here.

    The government demanding that a private entity stop disseminating particular information isn't censorship? What is your definition of censorship?

    Everybody could visit the relevant newspaper and look what they have and the newspapers could even set up a search engine for their archives.

    That doesn't mean telling Google they can't list those links isn't censorship.

    I think everybody should have the right that things he or she did are forgotten after some time.

    Of course you have the right to think that, you should just understand that means everyone would have the right to restrict what everyone else is allowed to talk about. The right to be forgotten is fundamentally incompatible with the right to free expression, and personally I find the latter FAR more important than the former.

    What the European judges really said that personal information can be removed from Google if it's "out of interest". Example: Did anybody here knew about the Spanish guy starting this? So why should anyone care?

    So the ruling only applies to those cases where it isn't necessary in the first place?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2014 @ 9:30pm

    Looks like Christopher Brennan is the one who requested it. The original article and the new article both come up in the top three on google.com for all three, and for the other two on google.co.uk. For Mr. Brennan, the google.co.uk results only bring up the new article, with no sign of the original.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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