back to article EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'

EU countries appear to be divided on how to implement a recent European Court of Justice ruling that calls on Google and other search engines to remove certain links from their indexes. The 28-state bloc's independent data protection advisory board - the Article 29 working party - met on Tuesday to discuss how removal requests …

  1. btrower

    Never mind that

    Rather than consulting with the perps to find out what they are willing to do, they should consult with the victims to find out what they are demanding.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Never mind that

      What victims?

      You want Google or Microsoft deciding what is in the public interest?

      This whole thing is as dumb as a bag of hammers.

      1. btrower

        Re: Never mind that

        @Tom 35

        Re:"You want Google or Microsoft deciding what is in the public interest?"

        No. They are the perps. We are the victims. The courts don't have 'perpetrator impact statements' from convicted felons. They don't generally consult with the felon to get their blessing before passing sentence. If they did, the victims would be invited to the table. We have victim impact statements from the people they harmed.

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: Never mind that

          @Tom 35

          Re:"You want Google or Microsoft deciding what is in the public interest?"

          No. They are the perps. We are the victims.

          Well, the current ruling requires Google and Microsoft to decide what is in the public interest. So if the data protection authorities don't meet with them and hammer our a coherent standard, then G & M will have to continue to decide it.

          That's why they have to meet -- not for "blessing" or impact statements or because of some made-up criminal court-corporate conspiracy.

  2. Hargrove


    The invasion of privacy for profit has become endemic. Any number of companies data mine the net to build profiles of individuals which they market for a fee.

    The information is often riddled with errors and omissions. The targeted individual has no way of knowing what information has been sold to whom. Or, what damages they have actually suffered as a result of how incomplete or erroneous information has been used.

    An example: A company hiring, faced with a choice of two candidates with virtually identical backgrounds--one of whose profile is complete and one whose has blanks--will chose the candidate with the compete profile. (Without detailing the reasons, I will assert that no other decision is defensible from a business perspective.)

    Companies routinely trade in and profit from the use of an individual's name without any thought of compensation to the targeted individual. Only the rich and the famous have any ability to protect their "brand." My brand may be far less valuable, But it clearly has some value, otherwise companies could not charge for the information they peddle.

    At least in the US, the legal system governing personal information has become so convoluted that it is virtually impossible for to assign accountability.

    1. Keven E.

      Even furthermore

      "At least in the US, the legal system governing personal information has become so convoluted that it is virtually impossible for to assign accountability."

      Just wait until the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement (being negotiated in Brussels this week) "enshrines" the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

      That should clear some things up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Furthermore

      At least in the US, the legal system governing personal information has become so convoluted that it is virtually impossible for to assign accountability.

      Actually, the legal system is so convoluted that no company can credibly claim an ability to protect client information from warrant free backdoor surveillance. Strictly taken, no EU company can afford the use of a US based service provider without placing themselves wilfully in non-compliance with EU privacy law demands. But hey, that's such a large political elephant that everyone will rather vote for enlarging the room so they can navigate around it, then deal with the beast itself.

  3. John Whitehead

    Right to be remembered

    What about a right to be remembered? Suppose I'd written a dazzling comment on that Robert Peston article. Because someone else who commented wants their comment to go away, mine has to be buried too. I'd feel decidedly infringed and would definitely sue, if I could be arsed.

    1. Hargrove

      Re: Right to be remembered

      Serious response is I had not thought of that. This points up the risks associated with rushing to legislate without adequate experience and knowledge.

      I had presumed that the "right to be forgotten" would apply to individual entities, not to links to information comprised from multiple sources. BZ Mr.Whtehead. (BZ=Bravo Zulu=Well Done!)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right to be remembered

      Your article won't be forgotten. If you mention 10 people in your article, and it shows up when any of those 10 peoples names are searched, then if one of the people you name successfully exercises their "right to be forgotten", your article will still show up up when any of the other 9 of the names are searched.

      Rather than a "right to be forgotten", think of it as a "a persons right to control their own index". If the results returned by a search for a persons name have come to define that person, why shouldn't that person have some degree of control of the results of that specific search?

      Of course, there will be clashes between the budding exhibitionist "John Smith" who wants to see articles highlighting his outlandish behaviour, and the quiet family man "John Smith" who doesn't want his children finding photos from "Girls Gone Wild" when they google their Dad, but the fact that it isn't easy isn't justification for not working on this issue.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Right to be remembered

      The article is still there and if you search for the article and your name, it must still turn up.

      If you search for the article using the name of the person who requested it to be de-listed with their name, it won't appear.

      If you search for the article itself, it will appear.

      Google, MS and co. are only supposed to remove it from results for the named person, all search results that would encompass the article, but not using that name / those names would still return the article.

      So you could still find your dazzling comment.

  4. Snowy Silver badge


    If the content they link is what they want forgotten then they should have that removed before the link is removed from the index.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: but

      That isn't always possible. It should certainly be the first stop.

      But for accredited press sites, the freedom of the press has priority, as long as the information cannot be proven to be inaccurate. Therefore the person has to resort to the search engines to ask that the article doesn't appear when searching for their name.

      That way, if say you had been wrongfully arrested for murder, the news sites couldn't remove it, because it is was accurate news at the time - you were arrested on suspicion of murder. However if you were released and a police apology made, but the arrest is still the first thing that is returned for your name after 10 years, even if you have since then been in the headlines as a philanthropist, then you would have the right to have that article not returned when searching for your name, because it is not relevant or no longer relevant.

      If you search for "arrests of suspected murderers", it will probably still appear in the list, but you would have to sift it out of the millions of returned results.

      The idea is to reduce the impact on your reputation from "no longer relevant" information, whilst still having the information available for those that really want to find it.

      So a prospective employer won't find that you were wrongfully arrested by searching for your name, but somebody doing research into the murder itself would still find the article.

      Think about it in terms of the traditional press. After its immediate publication everybody who reads the paper knows you were arrested, because it was on the front page. You are released and a small article on page 12 announces you were released without charge...

      A few years later, most people won't remember either article and it shouldn't influence your job chances, for example. But an author writing a book on the case can still go to the newspaper archive and dig out all the articles regarding the murder itself, including the articles on your arrest and subsequent release.

      In effect it is a way of maintaining the status quo in a time when information is becoming harder and harder to forget, whether it should be forgotten or not.

  5. poohbear


    Is Facebook included in this 'forget me' game?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Facebook

      Any website that has any business in the EU is affected, so yes. You can request the reference is removed or failing that, that it does not appear when searching for your name.

      As Facebook isn't covered under freedom of the press, they would probably have to remove the article completely, as opposed to de-listing it from search results of your name.

  6. Gannon (J.) Dick

    ok, listen up, I'll say this one time only.

    Web Architecture means Unicodes are the only thing which have "No right to be forgotten". (Transport Protocol + Top Level Domain) = UnicodeDigit[1], followed by the other "digits". This is a one or more digit transfer [a frame], an anti-pattern - give me everything which matches the pattern. IANA made a quick buck by offering Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD's). Good scam, but it did not change Web Architecture. The "old Boss", UnicodeDigit[1], was an empty suit. Meet the New Boss, etc.

    Microsoft and Google et. al. (including the NSA) all wanted to be the Old Boss, now they all want to be the New Boss, because Bosses are unforgetable.

    See the problem ? The Old Boss was an empty suit and so is the New Boss.

    1. Vic

      Re: ok, listen up, I'll say this one time only.

      Web Architecture means Unicodes are the only thing which have "No right to be forgotten".

      Amanfrommars does it so much better...


  7. ratfox

    "disrupt the process"

    I think the only thing Google has to do to disrupt the process is to say: "We are looking forward to implement the rules exactly as you gentlemen will agree them to be." Chances of the countries agreeing on small details is practically nil.

    Maybe we will end up with some links removed from and, but not and, because minority persons are granted an additional 3 points of forgettability, but only in countries where the minority group is officially recognized as such...

  8. John 156
    Big Brother

    What is news? what is legitimate news; what is illegitimate news?

    Lord Northcliffe: "News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising"

    Lord Northcliffe was declared insane on the say so of a purported doctor in Switzerland and died shortly afterwards. The is a battle on the web between those who want the truth out and those trying to suppress and distort it; these latter who have rendered Wikipeda totally unreliable except for techie stuff now have another weapon in their armoury.

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