back to article 'I'm for free speech!' brave Boris bellows, bewildered by 'right to be forgotten' bluster

Has Boris Johnson been paying too much attention to Jimmy Wales while the Wikipedia co-founder bangs on about Europe's so-called "right to be forgotten"? On Monday, the Mayor of London claimed the European Court of Justice's ruling that made Google subject to European privacy laws was suddenly bad news for freedom of …


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  1. JimmyPage

    Maybe he was thinking of

    Damnatio memoriae ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe he was thinking of

      Is that the same as Darius Guppy, something which Johnson would probably like to be forgotten?

    2. Steven Roper
      Big Brother

      Re: Maybe he was thinking of

      Damnatio memoriae ?

      Or, as Orwell more succinctly put it, unperson.

  2. Richard Tobin

    I think people can ask Google to remove search links from its index regardless of whether the information is "old, irrelevant and not in the public interest". You don't need a law to be able to ask for something. So what exactly does this "existing data protection law" do?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You may have hit on something there....

      Is "nothing" the answer you were dreading?

    2. Anthony 13

      Ummm ... read the article?

      "Such a refusal would simply force the complainant to take their gripe to their national data protection authority – such as the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK – and any decision taken at that level can be fought over in the courts."

      I.E. Assuming Google refused the ICO request, ultimately a court could order the information be removed. Without the law, you could never get that far ...

    3. NumptyScrub

      quote: "So what exactly does this "existing data protection law" do?"

      Possibly the UK Data Protection Act 1998 is the one being referred to. In that respect, you already have the right (as a data subject) to request that the data controller cease processing any personal data of yours held by them that (upon being processed) could cause "damage or distress" (Section 10 of the DPA)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        And Google could respond by removing it and replacing it with a front page link saying "Embarrassing details about Mr X available on our Irish server click here"

        Since Google don't do any business in the UK, according to their tax return, there isn't much the UK could do.

        1. Matt 21

          I don't think you're right

          The Spanish chap got his data removed and I don't think Google do much taxable business there either. I think the point of the ruling is that Google are considered to be doing business in the EU and must therefore abide by its rules.

          1. John Sturdy

            Streisand effect

            However, in this case, the information he was seeking to remove was brought from a position of relative obscurity to wider public awareness.

            1. Squander Two

              Re: Streisand effect

              The Streisand Effect is named after Streisand inadvertently publicising an aspect of her life that was true at the time she was publicising it. The Spanish bloke has successfully publicised the fact that he was bankrupt a long time ago and is no longer. That might still be regarded as an own-goal (I have no idea; we'd need to ask him), but it's certainly not the same thing.

  3. Elmer Phud

    How much 'free speech' does he want?

    "When reports about Stephanie first surfaced in the press in 2010, Marina threw Johnson out of the marital home for several months and removed her wedding ring. It was the second time she had locked him out – resorting to the same tactic as six years earlier when Johnson was exposed as having had an affair with fellow journalist Petronella Wyatt, which resulted in one abortion and a miscarriage. "

    From The Indy.

    1. Levente Szileszky

      Re: How much 'free speech' does he want?

      As much as his case officers (=big business, corporate entities and their ilks) want...

  4. Allan George Dyer

    He wants people to weed out the truth?

    As in remove the unwanted stuff, leaving the lies to grow?

    Please, someone call the Metaphor Police!

  5. cracked

    Who is storing and who is processing?

    Once, for a bit, I was a person responsible for collecting, processing - sometimes creating - and storing personal data for use by others (a data controller).

    The same law that made me responsible - for stuff like deletion - is being used to make Google responsible now. The judgement finds search-engines are data-controllers (but does not define - because no case was brought, I assume - what other web entities might also be data controllers).

    In today's judgment, the Court of Justice finds, first of all, that by searching automatically, constantly and systematically for information published on the internet, the operator of a search engine "collects" data within the meaning of the directive.

    The Court considers, furthermore, that the operator, within the framework of its indexing programmes, "retrieves", "records" and "organises" the data in question, which it then "stores" on its servers and, as the case may be, "discloses" and "makes available" to its users in the form of lists of results.

    Those operations which are referred to expressly and unconditionally in the directive, must be classified as "processing", regardless of the fact that the operator of the search engine carries them out without distinction in respect of information other than the personal data.

    Very well detailed here and here (-8

    Incidentally, I don't remember "constant" or "automatic" being necessary for classification as a data controller? Anyway ...

    Back when the law was created, few publishers created, processed and stored data for retrieval/use by others.

    Newspapers did not have a search function.

    And so ...

    Question(s) for Team Register: Was the decision to use an in-house (?) search mechanism, on the El Reg website - rather than one operated by an external, regulated data controller - intentional and/or wise? And was that decision taken for good, or evil, purposes? (-;

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