back to article Google NOT REQUIRED to wipe 'sensitive' search results after all

The European Union's Court of Justice has agreed with Google by saying that search engine providers should not be held responsible for the type of personal data that appears on web pages it processes. Even though Google is required to comply with European privacy law, the company is not obliged to remove sensitive legal …


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  1. Pen-y-gors
    Thumb Up

    Seems pretty sensible

    It's reasonable that after a certain time it should be possible for misdeeds to be *officially* "forgotten" - i.e. the idea of spent convictions - after x years previous offences cannot be mentioned in court or in job applications, CRB checks etc.

    BUT that doesn't mean that history books can be re-written. If someone is convicted of something and the proceedings are published in a newspaper, then no-one could expect all copies of that newspaper to be searched out and destroyed once the conviction is spent. Ditto if someone mentions in a book that someone was convicted of x.

    So it's reasonable that if information has been legitimately published on a website, then that is it. It has been published (no different to a book or newspaper) and, so long as the facts are correct, and it is legitimate public information, there should be no right for anyone to demand or order that the information be removed, no matter how old it is. And similarly there should be no reason for an index of published material (e.g. Google) to remove the link either. The guideline should be that whatever rules apply to a newspaper should also be applied to a search engine.

    1. Khaptain

      Re: Seems pretty sensible

      I agree with the gist of what you saying but there is a very large difference, Google makes the information publically available on a global scale "forever".

      It is not quite so easy to dig up information from old newspapers unless you are willing to trudge down to the library and even then there are no search facilities, such as those proposed by google.

      Example :A young man that has commited a minor crime will get punished for his crime and more than likely his name will appear in the local rag. That same young man realises that he has done wrong, he is smote by regret and decides to turn a new page in his life and work for the good of the community for the next ten years ( which no-one informs the newspaper about) .

      That same young man goes to get a job, his future would-be employer has never heard of the man before and gives him a job because he looks like a good lad. All things remain hunky dory.

      Given the same situation when the very small crime is written into the anals of Google. That same employer will then do a quick google search and find only the "bad" side of what the young man has done. No one ever wrote about the good work he performed for 10 years and will therefore have a very negative image which could be considered as unfair ( in effect he would get punished several times for the same crime).

      Newspaper news is basically fogotten about after only a few weeks, unless of course it was a major crisis. Google information is eternal and Google potentially makes money from evey search.

      I am not defending the wrongs of anyones crimes but everyone can change and become good citizens. Most of us need a second chance at least once in our lives..

      Another situation : A young girl gets raped. 10 years from now a quick search on her name and the first thing that we see is that she got raped 10 years ago. I can imagine that there are a lot of people that really don't want that information so readilly available.

      My examples are kind of crap but I am sure that everyone catches the drift.

      I am also glad that all my idiot years were long before google was even a spark of an idea.

      1. David 164

        Re: Seems pretty sensible

        I do think employment laws needs to be tighten up to prevent potential employers from going on fishing exercises on the internet with candidates names.

        Anyone that names a rape victim, which is protected by law, should have a tonne of legal bricks thrown at them anyway, which did happen recently involve in fans of a footballer who named the rape victims being arrested and it could be argue that Google and Twitter and other sites owners, being publishers and all, should have the responsibility to take such content if it turns up on servers they own.

        I wouldn't actually mind the same protection being given to anyone who commits a crime under the age of 21, with judges having final say if the crime was committed between ages of 18 and 21.

        But this goes into a bigger question, should a private entity be involve in policing the internet, we wouldn't expect a private company to police our streets would we, in fact their active campaign to fight the privatisation of police forces, so why do we expect private corporations to police the web, especially stuff that isn't even on their servers, let alone expecting them to police the whole internet.

        I think there is an effort by the government to shift the burden of policing the internet onto private companies with virtually no or very little discussion on whether the public actually want policing duties being carried out by private entities or do that want it carried out by the police force, like most crimes prevention and investigation is done.

  2. h3

    I thought Europe didn't have a definition of the public domain bad wording because it confuses it with what America used to have. (The Disney extension acts have got rid of it).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sensible judgement IMHO

    Google is in this case just a 3rd party pointing at offending content, it is not the actual hoster of the data. To remove data from searches means playing the usual whack-a-mole game.

    What I do find very interesting is that this Court has turned this "victory" into a seriously Phyrric one by establishing the legal premise upon which it is determined that Google has an EU presence, and thus is required to comply with EU law.

    Kelly mentioned that Google is in trouble with the French, but that's mildly understating the pile of manure they got themselves into when they didn't bother to answer to the letter of the EU Article 29 Working Group. It means Google is in trouble in all of the 27 countries that undersigned this letter - France is merely a bit quicker in starting the legal process.

    Sensible ruling, fantastic precedent, not so fantastic for Google but they knew this was coming anyway or they wouldn't have spent so much money lobbying.

    1. David 164

      Re: Sensible judgement IMHO

      Actually I think Google was smart not to answer the letter, if they did acknowledge the letter they be admitting that Article 29 Working Group actually has any powers in law to investigate Google to begin with, which they don't, the EU has no enforcement powers over the data protection.

      By allowing this to go down to each country legal systems, Google can then pursue divide and conquer tactics, Google not going to win every court battle but it will win some if not most of them, I certainly see them winning in the UK, if it wins enough, then it can negotiate with the group from a position of strength.

      Which is why the group have chosen France to go first, there lower courts judges have normal ruled against Google, they are hoping a early victory will force Google to the negotiating table, it wot because Google have a high success rates in France higher courts and will automatically appeal any decision by the lower court. An the group have probably decided if they cant win in France they not going to win anywhere else.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worried about losing back up data ?

    Don't - The NSA has it all taken care of FOC.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worried about losing back up data ?

      Coming soon: NSA cloud computing - free backup service.

      Sign up today *

      * we already have your personal details.

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