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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:22pm

    Just once, I'd like to companies that have to comply with stupid rulings to go and block ALL searches for the countries the rulings apply to. Let them get a glimpse of what the Internet looks like when it's censored.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    One question

    Does the EU think that similar requests from North Korea/China/etc be respected? Because that's the logic here.

     

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  3.  
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    Vel the Enigmatic, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    -it would probably cause some public uproar where said companies would get demonized too, instead of the people who are really to blame. The EU Regulators among others.

     

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

  4.  
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    AJ, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:26pm

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:31pm

    This is why

    to argue that the removals should be global, not just for Europe


    For all of those people who commented here wondering why we in the US were getting upset about the RTBF stuff -- this is why. We already have more than enough censorship here. We don't need to import yours.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:36pm

    Re: One question

    That is actually an interesting experiment.
    If the EU thinks it can control the entire world of Google search results, give the EU a taste of the Great Firewall of China for a few months.

     

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

  8.  
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    CK20XX (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    You know, a mature person faces his embarrassments, learns from them, and perhaps ultimately comes to laugh at them. An immature person tries to run from his errors or cover them up. By making it easier and legal to be immature, it's like the EU is determined to weaken us as a species...

     

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  9.  
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    RadioactiveSmurf (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Let's be honest here. The EU made a terrible ruling and instead of correcting it they are doubling down. They want Google to stop embarrassing them with the truth

     

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  10.  
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    Vel the Enigmatic, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:44pm

    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.

     

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  11.  
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    Miles Barnett (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:48pm

    Next Up...

    The next step is for these EU Regulators is to demand that all these articles about this stupid decision be forgotten.

    The people in power have the most to gain from this ruling, so you can bet your ass they're going to support it.

     

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  12.  
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    David, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    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.

     

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  13.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: One question

    My fear is that they'll be perfectly fine with it.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:02pm

    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.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

    Re: This is why

    This is horrible precedence and crappy politicians going the wrong way about things. I don't think europeans want what they are trying to do here.

     

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

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:12pm

    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...

     

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  17.  
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    JWW (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:12pm

    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?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    just like in the USA, there are certain people who think they know better than anyone else and that they should be able to dictate what everyone else should do.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: This is why

    depends, is your government ok with it? (yes I know, rethorical question...)

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    Re: If anyone in any country can delist a link

    I want advertising delisted. It is my life and they are imposing cookies and canvas fingerprinting on me. I want them to forget me.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    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

     

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

  22.  
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    Mike Brown (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Next Up...

    I, for one, would firmly support the right of the right to be forgotten to be forgotten.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: One question

    I'm willing to wager that they want their own great firewall that they can control. They probably wouldn't be so fine with some other country controlling it.

     

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

  24.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: One question

    Just apply it to the regulators.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: One question

    Censorship is fine as long you're the one doing the censoring.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    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.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Brian, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 2:57pm

    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.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    I'm beginning to think that all of these tech companies need to pool together and buy a country , create a state somewhere , even an Island.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 3:21pm

    "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?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Hitler, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 3:23pm

    Fuck the EU

    The EU can take its pissy little tribunal and shove it up its ass. The EU is not the world and fuck anyone who tries to censor what the rest of the world knows. I want Google to have a new website that only lists the links the EU wants removed. Fucking pussy legislators

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Balkanization is the inevitable result of all of this.

     

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

  32.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    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.'

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Eponymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 6:29pm

    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.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 10:46pm

    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.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 10:46pm

    Re: Re: One question

    Google *

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 11:02pm

    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.

     

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

  37.  
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    Hamish, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 12:55am

    petition

     

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

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    I'm going back to altavista.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 6:15am

    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?

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 7:29am

    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.

     

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

  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 9:36am

    Eu regulators can go pound sand.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    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.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    So you are saying that censorship to protect an individuals privacy is not censorship, interesting.

     

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

  44.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 26th, 2014 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    "It is nothing even close."

    If it's nothing even close to state censorship, then please explain the difference. I'm not seeing it at all.

     

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

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 3:40pm

    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.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    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.

     

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

  47.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 26th, 2014 @ 4:24pm

    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.

     

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

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2014 @ 7:45pm

    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.

     

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

  49.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 28th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    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.

     

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

  50.  
    identicon
    BigKeithO, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    DING-DING-DING!!

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    I think you just described the MPAA's and RIAA's secret wet-dream, and their exact plans for the future of the Internet. :)

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 6:07pm

    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.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2014 @ 9:50pm

    Re: Re:

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

     

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

  54.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jul 28th, 2014 @ 11:12pm

    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.

     

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

  55.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Jul 28th, 2014 @ 11:18pm

    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.

     

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

  56.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), Jul 28th, 2014 @ 11:24pm

    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.

     

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


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