from the good-for-them dept
But ignoring how these new rules will almost certainly be abused for censorship and to hold internet providers liable for the speech of others is a mistake. Thankfully, the NY Times has a good editorial warning about this very issue:
The editorial also notes that the proposed rules don't make it clear whether the EU expects these rules to apply globally or just in the EU, and that could make a huge difference. As we've noted France and Google are currently fighting this fight right now. And the new rules don't provide any further clarity, which likely means people will push to use them as a sort of global censorship tool.
The most problematic measure would expand what is known as the right to be forgotten, which lets people request that businesses delete personal information that they believe is no longer relevant or is out of date.
It is reasonable to allow people to delete some information, like embarrassing photographs they posted on Facebook. But this right has been used to make it harder to find legitimate information, like old news articles. More than 350,000 Europeans have asked Google to remove links to 1.3 million web pages from search results since the European Court of Justice ruled in May 2014 that people have a right to request such deletions. (The company says it has complied with 42 percent of the requests it has received. People can appeal Google’s decision to privacy regulators and courts.)
The proposed law requires Internet companies like Google to immediately take down information while they decide whether a request for a permanent deletion is warranted. Disturbingly, news organizations and other websites would not have an opportunity to object to those immediate removals and might not even have a chance to protest permanent deletions.
The end result is the removal of truthful information from the internet, as well as fewer incentives for companies to create useful platforms for free speech. Yes, we know that the standard line is that Europeans value privacy more than free speech, but that's both too simplistic a response and doesn't even address the real issue. This new directive is going to be a tool that is abused to silence free speech and punish innovation. That's not about protecting privacy at all. It's about out and out censorship.