back to article Right to be forgotten should apply to Google.com too: EU

Europe’s data protection watchdogs say there’s no need for Google to notify webmasters when it de-lists a page under the so-called "right to be forgotten" ruling. The Article 29 Working Group (A29), which is made up of the EU’s national data protection authorities, has also agreed that such de-listing requests should apply to …

  1. Alister

    “Our remit does not include dealing with complaints from organisations which have had search results to their websites removed from a search engine,” an Irish DPA spokeswoman told El Reg last month.

    Ah good, so no legal redress at all then, if my website is suddenly removed from the search rankings.

    Nice to see there's a proper "due process" in place...

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Yes, that's bound to happen a lot especially with sites like yelp and other "crowdsourced" business evaluation platforms. Also, if you rely on a blog for revenue or advertisement -or just plain old vanity- you may not want to say anything negative on anyone lest your cherished A-rank goes down the drain*.

      And of course in genuine slander cases, getting around the link removal is only a matter of changing FDQN at most. Perhaps even only the name of the webpage. Given the flurry of free blogging platforms around, get ready for a game of the whack-a-mole that never ended

      There's something that I don't understand in this affair: to ask for a link to be removed you need to perform a search on Google and get the link as a result, right? So at this point, why not just send a nastygram to the target of the link to have the offending material removed at the source? Google should really be responsible only for their own cache (which is already lots).

      Well of course the source may be located in place where they don't care about your nastygram. What we really need is a state-operated all-encompassing filter, only then we'll be safe from the big, nasty interwebs.

      * I know, right. But apparently for some it's more important than their very life. Or this of their neighbours at least.

      1. ratfox
        Megaphone

        "There is no need"

        So, is Google allowed to do it? Or is it not allowed to do it?

        And about the results on google.com, do they need to be scrubbed in all cases, or only when the search comes from a European IP? Because I suspect the US are going to be quite nervous about the idea that a European court can decide what they are allowed to find in their search results.

        I think the regulators are walking on eggs, and deliberately left quite a lot of uncertainty in their announcement. This is far from over…

  2. Ashton Black

    So....

    Goodbye Google.co.uk. Hello Google.com, or Google.ca, Google.au etc etc ?

  3. wag

    Unnecessary by their own admission

    "But the rules are not new; the obligations have applied to websites since 1995. The difference is that it now applies to search engines."

    So if the obligations already apply to websites, such content should be dealt with by issuing a request to the publisher themselves to take down the offending content. Then the search engine bots would automatically remove the links - hence there's no need for this stupid "right to be forgotten" ruling at all.

    1. Raumkraut

      Re: Unnecessary by their own admission

      So if the obligations already apply to websites, such content should be dealt with by issuing a request to the publisher themselves to take down the offending content.

      This is exactly what is being done, since the search listing is the content in question.

      It's not a question of the information being available on other sites, and it never has been. It's a question of what Google, and other search engines, show on their own websites.

      1. Aedile

        Re: Unnecessary by their own admission

        You're missing the point. Google doesn't really have their own data; they show other people's data.

        Analogy (probably a bad one): Assume Google is a map and the bad info is town A. As long as the town exists it shows up on a map. If the town is destroyed the map will no longer show it. So the point was: if the right to be forgotten law already applies to web sites then people already have a way to destroy the town (info) and hence have it removed from Google. The problem is that town A can't be destroyed in one request. To destroy the town you have to contact each building owner individually (representing each website discussing the info). As such, it is very time consuming and painful.

        So what the new law tries to do is order the map to delete town A, even though the town remains standing, to make it simpler for people. Does this mean people can't get to town A? Not even a little bit. However, it does make it harder to find except by the lucky or the determined.

        In the US the view is we'd rather have accurate maps and if you don't want to be on the map then you must destroy the town (which is even harder here due to the first amendment).

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre
          Happy

          Re: Unnecessary by their own admission

          if you don't want to be on the map then you must destroy the town (which is even harder here due to the first amendment).

          Someone got all tangled in their own analogies it would seem.

    2. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Unnecessary by their own admission

      If I recall correctly, Mario Costeja Gonzales, whose house was sold to remedy a tax delinquency, tried to have that removed from the web site of the newspaper that published the original public record of government action. That failed, and the fallback was to force Google (and presumably other search engine operators) to devise a way to hide it.

      Politicians, including judges, do not necessarily understand technology or allow it to operate as intended when they do.

  4. Duncan Macdonald
    Thumb Down

    First Amendment ?

    How does the EU law trump the US constitution for a website located in and operated by a US company ?

    1. phil dude
      WTF?

      Re: First Amendment ?

      I quite agree. Basically there is a prevailing "political" movement to control information for "our benefit".

      The only group it benefits are those in power who have the resources to find the information by other means.

      I am sympathetic to lives being ruined by out of date or incorrect information, but letting the powerful pick and choose what we can read, is never the answer.

      They already have too much control.

      P.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First Amendment ?

        > letting the powerful pick and choose what we can read, is never the answer.

        > They already have too much control.

        Yes, I agree. Letting Google (~95% search market share) have too much power to pick and choose what we read is certainly a bad thing.

        Perhaps we, as citizens, should have some measure of control over what such powerful corporations say about us. Perhaps if there were a legal measure we could use, to make sure that the information Google has about us is kept accurate and relevant...

        1. Number6

          Re: First Amendment ?

          I assume this is one reason why Google tell people when they've had a link blocked, so that it is not done quietly and behind closed doors. The other would be that by drawing attention to it, the Streisand Effect may well discourage people from requesting blocks.

        2. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: First Amendment ?

          "Letting Google (~95% search market share) have too much power to pick and choose what we read is certainly a bad thing."

          This is quite backwards. In this case Google's position is that for the type of information at issue it should NOT be required to control what you read.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. phil dude

          Re: First Amendment ?

          Doesn't matter.

          The First Amendment exists because of the bloody Europeans anyway. Specifically it was the stain-on-humanity royals and their toadies who were the drivers, but all of Europe still has this "superiority by position" approach to the world. The EU is a case-study in how not to run a government.

          Yes, the UK may have been in the driving seat for American independence, but the Founding Fathers had centuries to choose from arbitrary state oppression, Mad George III just happened to be on the desk at the time.

          Businesses want to limit your information because it allows them to present object X for price A while being of quality Y and worth price B. And since there are so many competing interests taking a little bite of the pie, the amount of information is ALREADY smaller than it should be. Look at the current fights going on.

          Internet: Lies about speed. Lies about costs of infrastructure. Lies about spying.

          Food: Lies about content. Lies about the effect.

          Pharms: Lies about what is known. Selective data publishing.

          Computers: Lies about the software and hardware flaws. Restricted information used to force upgrades on consumers.

          Flim/Music/Media: Lies about copying to cover out-moded business practices. Selective publish practices

          Google is a search engine that happens to be the current best. All that is required is that they (Google) do not stop a competitor emerging with a better product.

          However, as good as Google is , it simply is not good *enough* for humanity to advance.

          P.

    2. Raumkraut

      Re: First Amendment ?

      If they want to operate in the EU, and shuttle a great deal of their money through the EU, then they need to play by EU rules.

      The option to exit the EU market is always open to them, if they decide the rules are too onerous.

    3. SteveK

      Re: First Amendment ?

      How does the EU law trump the US constitution for a website located in and operated by a US company ?

      Possibly in much the same way the US government thinks that its laws override local laws in countries such as, say, Iceland or Ireland?

    4. Pseu Donyme

      Re: First Amendment ?

      >How does the EU law trump the US constitution ...

      I seem to recall that the relevant bit in the US constitution begins with "Congress shall make no law" i.e. this is a negative right, a restriction on what the US (or state) government may do, not a positive right the same is obliged to uphold. Hence no conflict here.

  5. Ralph B

    Waiting for the day

    I'm waiting for the day when someone manages to sneak the Article 29 equivalent of "rm -rf /" passed Google.

    Do you suppose Google does backups of their indexes? Or would they just crawl it all again?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Puzzling

    ... no need for Google to notify webmasters when it de-lists a page

    So the webmasters concerned aren't to be told that they are holding content which is offensive to someone? I'm sure some would be upset about that.

  7. Daggerchild Silver badge

    There's only one way to decide...

    So, if a EU court says Google has to delink something, and the US source gets the US court to order Google to relink the something.. what happens?

    Does *every* country have jurisdiction over the content of Google.com now? Russia? China?

  8. heyrick Silver badge

    Wait, what?

    So if there was something on my website that somebody objected to and requested it to be "forgotten", this can take place and the person hosting the material is no longer to be informed?

    I can understand this is perhaps to stop the website owner from changing the link or bringing it to everybody's attention; but the flip side of the coin is that without any sensible form of due process (person makes a request, search engine evaluates and decides (or something like that)), it would make it piss-easy to fire off requests to silence legitimate criticism and concerns.

    It's nice to see the morons making these decisions have no grasp on how "that there internet thingy" actually works. There's no reason to approach Google at all (other than that they are big, American, slightly evil), if the problem is dealt with at source (the offending web page) then the Google problem takes care of itself. No page, nothing to index.

    But, gee, that's all complicated and involves lawyers and stuff. It's much easier to fill out an online form and click a button, right?

  9. KingStephen

    Misleading

    It's very surprising to see how many people talk about this in terms of "websites being blocked" or websites "disappearing from the search engines" or similar. This ignores the fact that all that's removed from anywhere is a specific link from a specific personal search.

    For example, there's a report on a prominent mafia trial where a contemporary news report wrongly associates an innocent person to the crimes. That person has successfully applied to Google and now if you search on that person's name, reference to the trial will not be shown. Search any of the other people involved and it still will be. Search for info on the trial and it still will be.

    The website is not being blocked and nor is anyone's access to the information. The search results for the innocent person are no longer being tainted by wrong information, and I think that's the point of the ruling.

    We should not believe all the outraged yelling about censorship from Google or their acolytes, and should try and understand the application of this ruling properly.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: Misleading

      "The search results for the innocent person are no longer being tainted by wrong information, and I think that's the point of the ruling"

      Absolutely. But will that be the *implementation* of the ruling, going forwards? Especially as 'innocence' will always be protested, and will be validated firstly, and often only, by a commercial employee (without the court powers to acquire any additional information necessary to increase accuracy) where each judgement is at a cost to the company, with no apparent benefit to expending any more effort than actually necessary.

      Because I'm pretty sure *I* could exploit it. Just take an inconvenient fact and ring it in Google's results index with fake evidence passively contradicting it, then request the 'incorrect fact' be removed (You think a Google employee *won't* just reach for Google first?).

      Basic wikiwar strategies now apply, but this time you get to silently edit global perception. W00t!

    2. P. Lee

      Re: Misleading

      >For example, there's a report on a prominent mafia trial where a contemporary news report wrongly associates an innocent person to the crimes.

      But I don't think this is the common usage, is it?

      My concern would be that I would rather have wrong information returned by my search engine, than one that has been massaged by money or politics. How long until we get a request that Google removes all links which "brings the government/company into disrepute"?

      It is tragic for those maligned, but I think there is a better way. Rather than removing the links, how about flagging links which have successfully gone through an arbitration process with an "inaccurate" flag. That puts greater pressure on the originating website to remove the data if they don't stand by it, rather than have their name associated with being wrong. Plus it provides some correction to previous inaccurate reporting.

      It also removes the "censorship" criticism and the ability for people to get information removed because they are embarrassed about their previous conduct.

  10. earl grey
    Trollface

    what about the wayback machine

    You going to make them delete the same stuff?

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: what about the wayback machine

      No, they just have to show different versions of the same pages to different clients depending on where they are coming from, and what laws have come into effect there since that page was recorded. Simples!

  11. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    As far as I can see....

    ...these appalling regulations and associated legislation will continue, until no one is allowed to say or think anything nasty again.

    Won't the world be lovely then?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: As far as I can see....

      Not quite. We can say and think all the nasty things we like.

      Nobody else will be allowed to read it, though.

      It kind of reminds me of The Daily Mail's approach to kiddie porn where they scream and shout at Google for indexing such things. Well, getting Google to remove the links to the content does not remove the content itself, so it seems a rather "out of sight, out of mind" approach.

      Same thing here, nobody is dealing with the phones, we're just cutting random pieces out of the phonebook instead...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

  • Google has more reasons why it doesn't like antitrust law that affects Google
    It'll ruin Gmail, claims web ads giant

    Google has a fresh list of reasons why it opposes tech antitrust legislation making its way through Congress but, like others who've expressed discontent, the ad giant's complaints leave out mention of portions of the proposed law that address said gripes.

    The law bill in question is S.2992, the Senate version of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which is closer than ever to getting votes in the House and Senate, which could see it advanced to President Biden's desk.

    AICOA prohibits tech companies above a certain size from favoring their own products and services over their competitors. It applies to businesses considered "critical trading partners," meaning the company controls access to a platform through which business users reach their customers. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta in one way or another seemingly fall under the scope of this US legislation. 

    Continue reading
  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading
  • Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near
    Overhaul of Chrome add-ons set for January, Google says it's for all our own good

    Special report Seven months from now, assuming all goes as planned, Google Chrome will drop support for its legacy extension platform, known as Manifest v2 (Mv2). This is significant if you use a browser extension to, for instance, filter out certain kinds of content and safeguard your privacy.

    Google's Chrome Web Store is supposed to stop accepting Mv2 extension submissions sometime this month. As of January 2023, Chrome will stop running extensions created using Mv2, with limited exceptions for enterprise versions of Chrome operating under corporate policy. And by June 2023, even enterprise versions of Chrome will prevent Mv2 extensions from running.

    The anticipated result will be fewer extensions and less innovation, according to several extension developers.

    Continue reading
  • End of the road for biz living off free G Suite legacy edition
    Firms accustomed to freebies miffed that web giant's largess doesn't last

    After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.

    "For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."

    Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.

    Continue reading
  • It's a crime to use Google Analytics, watchdog tells Italian website
    Because data flows into the United States, not because of that user interface

    Updated Another kicking has been leveled at American tech giants by EU regulators as Italy's data protection authority ruled against transfers of data to the US using Google Analytics.

    The ruling by the Garante was made yesterday as regulators took a close look at a website operator who was using Google Analytics. The regulators found that the site collected all manner of information.

    So far, so normal. Google Analytics is commonly used by websites to analyze traffic. Others exist, but Google's is very much the big beast. It also performs its analysis in the USA, which is what EU regulators have taken exception to. The place is, after all, "a country without an adequate level of data protection," according to the regulator.

    Continue reading
  • UK competition watchdog seeks to make mobile browsers, cloud gaming and payments more competitive
    Investigation could help end WebKit monoculture on iOS devices

    The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday said it intends to launch an investigation of Apple's and Google's market power with respect to mobile browsers and cloud gaming, and to take enforcement action against Google for its app store payment practices.

    "When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in a statement. "As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice."

    The decision to open a formal investigation follows the CMA's year-long study of the mobile ecosystem. The competition watchdog's findings have been published in a report that concludes Apple and Google have a duopoly that limits competition.

    Continue reading
  • Google recasts Anthos with hitch to AWS Outposts
    If at first you don't succeed, change names and try again

    Google Cloud's Anthos on-prem platform is getting a new home under the search giant’s recently announced Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) portfolio, where it will live on as a software-based competitor to AWS Outposts and Microsoft Azure Stack.

    Introduced last fall, GDC enables customers to deploy managed servers and software in private datacenters and at communication service provider or on the edge.

    Its latest update sees Google reposition Anthos on-prem, introduced back in 2020, as the bring-your-own-server edition of GDC. Using the service, customers can extend Google Cloud-style management and services to applications running on-prem.

    Continue reading
  • Google offers $118m to settle gender discrimination lawsuit
    Don't even think about putting LaMDA on the compensation committee

    Google has promised to cough up $118 million to settle a years-long gender-discrimination class-action lawsuit that alleged the internet giant unfairly pays men more than women.

    The case, launched in 2017, was led by three women, Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease, and Kelli Wisuri, who filed a complaint alleging the search giant hires women in lower-paying positions compared to men despite them having the same qualifications. Female staff are also less likely to get promoted, it was claimed.

    Gender discrimination also exists within the same job tier, too, the complaint stated. Google was accused of paying women less than their male counterparts despite them doing the same work. The lawsuit was later upgraded to a class-action status when a fourth woman, Heidi Lamar, joined as a plaintiff. The class is said to cover more than 15,000 people.

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • Brave Search leaves beta, offers Goggles for filtering, personalizing results
    Freedom or echo chamber?

    Brave Software, maker of a privacy-oriented browser, on Wednesday said its surging search service has exited beta testing while its Goggles search personalization system has entered beta testing.

    Brave Search, which debuted a year ago, has received 2.5 billion search queries since then, apparently, and based on current monthly totals is expected to handle twice as many over the next year. The search service is available in the Brave browser and in other browsers by visiting search.brave.com.

    "Since launching one year ago, Brave Search has prioritized independence and innovation in order to give users the privacy they deserve," wrote Josep Pujol, chief of search at Brave. "The web is changing, and our incredible growth shows that there is demand for a new player that puts users first."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022