Google Struggling To Deal With Right To Be Forgotten Requests -- Will Now Delete Wikipedia Page From Search Results

from the but,-uh,-it's-editable dept

Late last week, Google responded to the concerns raised by some EU regulators regarding how it is implementing the new "right to be forgotten" rules. Google's full response is well worth reading going into a fair bit of detail, highlighting how there are a lot of non-trivial decisions to be made in this process -- brought on by a ridiculous European Court of Justice ruling. As part of it, Google notes that the process is entirely one-sided and they only get information from the person wishing to delete information from search engines:
We generally have to rely on the requester for information, without assurance beyond the requester’s own assertions as to its accuracy. Some requests turn out to have been made with false and inaccurate information. Even if requesters provide us with accurate information, they understandably may avoid presenting facts that are not in their favour. As such, we may not become aware of relevant context that would speak in favour of preserving the accessibility of a search result. An example would be a request to remove an old article about a person being convicted of a number of crimes in their teenage years, which omits that the old article has its relevance renewed due to a recent article about that person being convicted for similar crimes as an adult. Or a requester may not disclose a role they play in public life, for which their previous reported activities or political positions are highly relevant. We have also seen examples of data subjects who indiscriminately submit many URLs that are displayed as search results for their name, even though some URLs are actually about another person with the same name.
As if to highlight the difficulty, Google is apparently now set to disappear a Wikipedia page from its index due to a right to be forgotten request. But, of course, Wikipedia pages are open and constantly editable, so it seems weird to order that the page be removed entirely from the search engine when someone could just edit it instead. And, if the edit gets reverted, well, perhaps it's because it's factual information that is perfectly fine to include in Wikipedia and in Google.

The article does not reveal the particular Wikipedia page or any further information, but highlights just what a ridiculous ruling the original ECJ ruling was. Google is a search engine. Its entire purpose is to help people find what they're looking for -- not to judge whether or not it's appropriate for someone to be seeking that information in the first place. And then, once you include the editable nature of Wikipedia to the mix, you're creating a situation that is doubly ridiculous, since there are so many other options for how to deal with the issue.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:07pm

    For supposed developed nations our governments seem hellbent on proving were just as backwards as everyone else

     

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

  2.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    The right to be forgotten!

    OK, so Europe wants to be forgotten. Should we do that? Did they play some significant role in history, or are they asking us to forget that too.

    The problem with opening this Pandora's box is the picayune things people want forgotten with no consideration of unintended consequences.

    My vote is all or nothing. Should that become the prevalent point of view, what would Europe choose, all, or nothing?

     

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

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:41pm

    When it's easier and more cost effective to just pull your service out of a country...

     

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

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    I am sorry. Your Google search of "Europe" has not been found. Please check to see if your spelling is correct and try again.

     

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

  5.  
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    Shmerl, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:56pm

    Censorship institutionalized

    Europe really got on the weird side of things with this one.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 5:15pm

    Everyone in Europe should start using Altavista if they want to make sure they get all the good dirt on someone.

     

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  7.  
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    Adam Bell, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 5:23pm

    What astonishes me that when it is clear that a court does not understand what it is dealing with that there is no recourse, no "what the court has ruled is impossible to do" hearing or panel. Technology is way past the average aging judge.

     

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  8.  
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    JP Jones (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 5:27pm

    I'm still struggling to figure out where the "right to be forgotten" comes from. For example, if I watched my friend get hopeless drunk and make out with an [overweight homely individual], do they have the right to make it so I can't tell all my other friends about it? Or does he have the right to make me forget about it completely? What if I wrote it in my journal, could he have the court confiscate it and destroy it?

    If not, why does the internet get special rules? Honestly, if I were Google, I'd just stop working completely in Europe. They can definitely afford it, and may end up breaking even by saving tons of time and effort (and lawyer money) trying to comply with an impossible demand.

    Then let's see how long it takes EU to repeal this silly law.

     

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

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 6:03pm

    Request to Forget the Judiciary who made this decision

    Suggestion: Submit requests to all of the bureaucracy to forget the judiciary that made this ruling. Such as the driver licenses, payroll, banks, property ownership records, birth certificate, medical records, all their previous employers, and credit card companies.

    Oops, is that pounding on the door, are they there to evict you? Has your car been repossessed? Are you no longer getting paid? Sorry we cant treat you without proper credentials.

    Unless you want to go live in the wild, or become homeless, you dont want to be forgotten in society.

    More and more all the bureaucracy and associated information is handled online. Forcing the net to forget you would be unwise.

     

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

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    I for one, think this law could be awesome. But, it is currently too limited in scope. Have it apply to ALL search engines, to be fair. Not just Google, but also Bing and Yahoo.

    And the ones that do credit reporting.

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 6:12pm

    Re:

    a bad month of income shouldn't destroy the next 7 years of my financial life.

     

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

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 7:42pm

    Censorship. Plain and simple.

     

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

  13.  
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    Coogan (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 9:15pm

    Hold on a sec. You mean to tell me that a bunch of technologically illiterate politicians passed a sweeping law affecting the entirety of the networked world, and didn't give a single thought to the ramifications and unintended consequences of such a law?

    NO. FREAKING. WAY.

    It's like thoughtful deliberation and civil debate have gone out the window with the governments of the world.

     

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

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 10:40pm

    Re:

    Altavista died a long time ago didn't it?

     

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

  15.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:48am

    Re: The right to be forgotten!

    You might want to think that "Europe wants ***" statement through.

    "Europe" as a single entity does not exists. There are the European parliament, regulators, member states. And then there are the people who live in Europe.

    Equating them is as stupid as saying "all Americans support the israeli genocide" or "all Americans support worldwide surveillance and purposeful weakening of security protocols"

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 2:27am

    Google would be wise to raise awareness in the EU by having short blackout periods of service with an explanation in layman's terms of what is going on. Even though perhaps some portion of the population might vaguely support a right to be forgotten, I venture a guess that a reckoning of the overhead involved would trump this right in the minds of most reasonable people here.
    Perhaps after a blackout of all searches for any person's name, with a "sorry, we have temporarily disabled all searches for people, and here's why..." would be enough to raise audible ire towards this maddeningly ridiculous legislation.

     

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

  17.  
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    Jenda, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:37am

    Re: You make it sound as if you thought the opinion of the population matters

    That's not the way eurodemocracy works!
    Even if some old constitution required the EU to ask the citizens anything, they'd repeat the vote as many times as necessary to get the answer they want.

     

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

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:51am

    the person who this was really done for has dropped the rest of the world right in it, that's for sure. this whole thing needs to be wiped out completely. the 'justices' who brought the law in should be ashamed of what they have done and rescind it forthwith, not keep trying to hold others accountable for trying to follow yet another bad law.

     

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

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    Well it worked out well for him, now nobody knows that Mario Costeja Gonzalez hit financial troubles in 1998.

     

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

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    This law needs to be called "the right not to have public records about oneself found with specific search terms in only one of several available online search tools".

    Hmm ... now I see why "right to be forgotten" has caught on.

     

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

  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re: The right to be forgotten!

    ""Europe" as a single entity does not exists"

    I think he meant the EU, which certainly does exist as a single entity.

    "Equating them is as stupid as saying "all Americans support the israeli genocide" or "all Americans support worldwide surveillance and purposeful weakening of security protocols"

    No, it's more like saying that the US government supports those things.

     

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

  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    It does apply to all the search engines. It's just that virtually no one uses them. The scope of the law and intent are fine, but the implementation is a complete failure. The real objective was to prevent the internet from having a"perfect" memory. What the EU really wanted was things not accessed after x years be deleted. However, since there isn't a way to make files auto-delete they tried to make them impossible to find. While not as good as deleting the actual content this still might have worked but they did away with the objective portion of if not accessed in x years. Instead they made it subjective by allowing individuals make requests. This opens the way for all sorts of intentional abuse and accidental censures.

     

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

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:13pm

    I am so @#$^%@$#% tired of this.

    I can't find shit on Google anymore. I'm about done using it.

    Amazon is just as bad. I was looking for a book that my mom has from the PBS TV show Zoom back in the 70's.

    She can find the book on Amazon.

    What does Amazon give me? Only computer books, and World of Warcraft books.

    I realize that I do like those things, but guess what? SOMETIMES I HAVE SOMETHING SPECIFIC I AM SEARCHING FOR, AND STOP GIVING ME MY 'PREFERENCE' SEARCH WHEN IT'S CLEARLY SOMETHING THAT IS NOT IN MY NORMAL CATEGORY OF INTERESTS.

    So tired of not being able to find anything...like shit doesn't exist, when I know it does....

    Proof: I did these searches at home. I didn't try them at work until today....

    At home "Do a Zoom Do" brought me nothing except tech blogs, and computer related books.

    At work just now, it finally brought me this: http://handmadelibrarian.com/2011/03/14/did-you-do-a-zoom-do/

    WHICH IS WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR!

    Proof2: Sick of being sick book. At home, brought me home remedies and doctor info

    At work: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sick-Being-Book/dp/0590321196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407265928&sr =8-1&keywords=sick+of+being+sick+book which is exactly what I was looking for.

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "What the EU really wanted was things not accessed after x years be deleted."

    ...and how is that intent "fine"?

     

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

  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:57pm

    Re: I am so @#$^%@$#% tired of this.

    "I did these searches at home. I didn't try them at work until today...."

    I had no problem finding it with Google. Since you're getting different results at home vs at work, I'm guessing that you're logged into a Google account at home when you search. Don't do that -- Google does this idiotic thing where they try to customize your search results according to your past searches. Never use Google search when you're logged in, it screws everything up.

    Or, even better, don't use Google search in the first place.

     

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

  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: I am so @#$^%@$#% tired of this.

    Duly noted.

    With all those thousands of people working at Google, you would have thought at least one person would have considered that people would want those options, and be able to judge on the fly if a person is looking for something to entertain themselves, or if they have a specific object they are looking for.

     

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

  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    heh, more like duckduckgo, ixquick ;)

     

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

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    For more historical revisionism of course, delete all intelligent 911 debate off the internet, leave the controlled opposition Lenin would be so proud of in. It's brillant! So the kids born in the '00's have no idea what us early 30's cranky people are cranky for.

     

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

  29.  
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    Rekrul, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Dear Google, my name is "John Smith", please make all the information about me on the internet go away. Thanks.

     

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

  30.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 12:40am

    Re: Re: Re: The right to be forgotten!

    equating the us government with the people living in _america_ (a continent) is still stupid, just as equating the EU leaders with the people living in europe (again, a continent).

    Did they play some significant role in history
    Europeans and european nations played a significant role in history much earlier than the EU came to be (like.. wiping the native residents of a continent and inhabiting it with immigrants...). That's why I concluded he did not mean the EU.

     

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

  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The right to be forgotten!

    I don't see where anonymous anonymous coward was equating the EU leaders with the citizens.

    "That's why I concluded he did not mean the EU."

    I concluded he meant the EU because he's talking about the RTBF.

     

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


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