Why Wikipedia Is Worried About Global 'Right To Be Forgotten' Delistings

from the book-of-laughter-and-forgetting dept

As Techdirt reported last year, the problematic "right to be forgotten" -- strictly speaking, a right to be delisted from search results -- took a really dangerous turn when the French data protection regulator told Google that its orders to delist results should apply globally, not just in France, a view it confirmed twice. The latest development in this saga is the submission of a petition to the French Supreme Court against the global reach of delisting, made by the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind Wikipedia. As its blog post on the move explains:

Although the [French data protection authority] CNIL's case is directed towards Google, the gradual disappearance of Wikimedia pages from Google search results around the world ultimately impacts the public's ability to find the invaluable knowledge contained within the Wikimedia projects. Search engines have played an important role in the quest for knowledge -- roughly half of Wikipedia visits originate from search engines.

The CNIL's most recent order, if upheld, threatens the capacity to write and share important information about history, public figures, and more. It undermines the public's ability to find relevant and neutral information on the internet, and would make it exceedingly difficult for projects like Wikimedia's to provide information that is important for society.
The fact that half of Wikipedia's visits come from online searches emphasizes the point that delisting a page from search results effectively removes it from the Internet. The Wikimedia post goes on to make all the obvious -- and completely valid -- arguments why global delisting is such a bad idea. It also mentions the following:
As part of our efforts to bring more transparency to these requests, when we receive notice that a Wikipedia article was removed from a search engine due to a "right to be forgotten" delisting request, we publish the notice in a public index for the Wikimedia community's reference.
The page not only includes interesting statistics about delisting notices, but also helpfully provides copies of the notices themselves. From these we can see the Wikipedia articles that are no longer listed in search engines, which allows us to guess the names of those who don't want information about them to be readily available, and inevitably encourages us to speculate why that might be.

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  • icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 9:37am

    Playing chicken

    In all seriousness, Google is going to have to just stand up and say "No." And when they are threatened with fines and garbage, they should just pull out of that country. Yes, it will cause Google to lose a bit of revenue, but I bet not much as the people clamor to get Google back, and the countries like France wise up and figure out that they need Google more than Google needs them. This "right to be forgotten" BS has gone way too far already.

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 9:58am

      Re: Playing chicken

      One wishes they would.
      There is so much stupidity targeted at Google because they are successful.
      We won't try to compete, so tax Google for us.
      We don't like that Google does it better, make them less useful for us.
      We don't like that Google gives us traffic for free, and somehow is making money... they must be getting it by stealing it from us... make them pay us.

      You do not have a right to be forgotten, you did something noteworthy enough that it was reported on.
      You do have a right to do better things and try to show you are not just 1 search result.
      If protecting your 'reputation' means that we have to edit history, your 'reputation' doesn't outweigh the publics right to know what happened.

      Google should play hard ball and leave countries that try to appease the bleeting masses. Let them have Bing.
      You don't have the right to abuse Google & expect them to keep taking it. Imagine the uproar (that we've seen repeatedly) when a country demands X, Google complies to the letter of the law, and then has to deal with the complaints it was unfair they stopped doing what we made against the law.

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

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 10:10am

    An unfortunate series of events

    As the US Gov't and various agencies thereof have forced themselves and their rules on other countries around the world, a US based business has a hard time saying "your laws only apply in your country".

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 10:28am

    Well, considering France is slowly forgetting their core values (liberté, egalité, fraternité) it isn't surprising they aren't worried about things going down the memory hole.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2016 @ 10:52am

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

    ...

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

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 5:57pm

      Re: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

      those who cannot remember the post are condemned to repeat it...
      (repeat ad infinitum or ad absurdum, your choice...)

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

  • identicon
    Emma goldman was a witch, 27 Oct 2016 @ 10:53am

    Surprise!

    NOT, laws designed to make google forget your stupid drunk selfies is not used for that but is instead used by people that have done criminal or board line criminal things to make sure people cant know about it.

    Privacy for me not for thee for the state, the rich no one else. all of this is consistent with google and there capo collaboration with all of the states.

    people are mostly to narcissistic to write laws.

    OPEN BOARDERS FOR ALL!
    DOWN WITH THE STATE!
    UP THE PEOPLES COUNCILS !!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2016 @ 11:08am

    this whole 'right to be forgotten' has only been dreamed up to try to keep the mis-deeds of the rich and famous out of the headlines. funny how anything an ordinary person does is reported on for months and is available for years!

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

  • icon
    timmaguire42 (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 11:23am

    But which Tim Maguire is me?

    Just for fun I just googled my name--tim maguire and timothy maguire--and searched through 4 pages without finding a single entry that is me.

    So suppose I get a court to order Google to delist me. How are they to make that happen when there are so many other tim maguires out there? How is Google to know which ones are me?

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 3:19pm

      Re: But which Tim Maguire is me?

      Shush or the demands for complete deanonymization and internet identity cards will be back with a vengeance. (It might seem counterintuitive for the right to be forgotten system, but it isn't really.)

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

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 27 Oct 2016 @ 12:50pm

    regulating the truth

    Countries have tried for thousands of years to regulate the truth, and they always fail.

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

  • identicon
    William McDuff, 27 Oct 2016 @ 1:00pm

    The Soultion

    I've always felt that the solution to this rule is to get another company to pass the same law as France, but have it legal for only a month, then arrange to send a request to Google for the politician above the data protection regulator to be 'forgotten' for a bit. Preferably in election season. :)

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 2:12pm

    This system is asinine and stupid

    So let me see if I have this straight: people are filing "right to be forgotten" notices with Google to de-index Wikimedia rather than filing the notice with Wikimedia itself?

    As has been said many, many times, the "right to be forgotten" is actually "take me out of Google". If people really wanted to be forgotten, they would go after the original source of the information, whether that's a magazine, newspaper, or public website. Then when the website "forgets" the information, there's nothing for Google (and Bing and Yahoo) to index.
    Instead, people are filing claims with Google, which simply breaks the indexed link, but does nothing to remove the original data.

    I'll say it again: this system is asinine and stupid.

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

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 9:24pm

      Re: This system is asinine and stupid

      In order to avoid being accused of censorship, the "Right to be Forgotten" system works by just removing links from search engines (generally Google, I don't know if Bing or Yahoo have gotten many requests). To put it simply, the requesters can't ask the actual website to remove truthful information. I still call it censorship since it's government forcing a private entity to stifle their speech (even if that speech is just, "Go there to see what those people said about that person you asked me about.") but, that's just me.

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

  • identicon
    Big Sister, 27 Oct 2016 @ 3:08pm

    The government can tell you everything you need to know.

    So quit wasting your time on those unofficial sources, like Wikipedia. We're working on getting them forgotten.

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

  • icon
    Hugo S Cunningham (profile), 28 Oct 2016 @ 7:51am

    Right of reply page-- a reasonable compromise?

    I share the general opposition to a "right to be forgotten" that would mainly benefit swindlers, stalkers, and dishonest politicians. As a compromise: how about a "right of reply" page which would show up at the top of a subject's link listing? This would be the subject's chance to address unfavorable links, eg (1) the link is false; (2) The link is ancient history; (3) the party who put up the link is a sociopath, with links to prove it (something that would be impossible if the sociopath had a "right to be forgotten"); etc

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

  • identicon
    Ron, 28 Oct 2016 @ 11:10am

    Let Wikipedia Be FREE and Stop Regulation and Biased Media

    The issue is that the media is evil and creates too much negativity and this is the consequences. If we play nicer than perhaps we wont have to worry about this European regulation.

    Let Wikipedia BE FREE

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2016 @ 11:03am

      Re: Let Wikipedia Be FREE and Stop Regulation and Biased Media

      Problem is that Wikipedia depends on sources from biased media.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Oct 2016 @ 4:25pm

    This is completely retarded censorship. Delisting Wikipedia pages about people that participated in Big Brother television shows!

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


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