back to article Expanding Right To Be Forgotten slippery slope to global censorship, warn free speech fans

Europe's top court will tomorrow hear a case that could extend the scope of right to be forgotten rules globally – which free speech campaigners warn would amount to mass online censorship. The French data protection agency (CNIL) is pushing to broaden a landmark 2014 ruling (Google Spain v Gonzalez et al) that said Google …

  1. m0rt

    "Free speech campaigners counter that allowing this to happen would effectively grant European regulators the power to censor the world's internet."

    We aren't talking about removing it from the net. We are talking about removing it from google.

    Since gobble get to pretty much decide what they want to do for rankings anyway, I couldn't give a rodent's posterior.

    The net is getting bigger, fuller with useless and useful data. So all we do is hand the reigns (intended) to a few, if not a couple, of big players, to determine what it is and is not relevant, useful, etc.

    If we postulate that anything that is ever recorded should be available for evermore (based on what reason I cannot fathom - 'because we can' is not a reason) then that in itself would infer that we should actually leave as little a digital footprint as possible, because the alternative is as mindnumbing as this comment.

    Imagine 50 years from now. I mean cat images aside. They are always worth it.

    1. Joeyjoejojrshabado

      Yes

      "We aren't talking about removing it from the net. We are talking about removing it from google."

      Yes and no. This particular case (you're right) is about de-referencing from Google search results and extending that requirement globally. The issue for free speech etc. is that it sets a precedent for someone using that same right in the same way when it comes to the source material.

      1. m0rt

        Re: Yes

        So herein lies the crux, then.

        Should anything that happened, or at least, a version of what happened, anytime, always be available on the internet?

        1. Do we think that internet/web *should* be a source of truth?

        2. Is the internet/web capable of being a source of truth?

        3. WTF is truth anyway? Whose truth?

        Personally, I think the internet wins because it is a way of democratising world wide communication, anyone can post anything.

        Personally, I think the internet loses because it is a way of democratising world wide communication, anyone can post anything.

        The internet/web is just a tool. It will reflect humanity. It, in itself, shouldn't be ascribed mystical/divine rights.

        Except when it comes to cats.

        1. big_D Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Yes

          @m0rt no, no cats, only dogs! ;-)

          1. m0rt

            Re: Yes

            Pfwaw...

            You and your pre-failed schism attempts.

        2. JohnFen

          Re: Yes

          "Should anything that happened, or at least, a version of what happened, anytime, always be available on the internet?"

          That's the wrong question. The right question is "should people have the right to point to content on the internet?" That's the actual issue being debated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yes

            @JohnFen,

            That's the wrong question. The right question is "should people have the right to point to content on the internet?" That's the actual issue being debated.

            Hmm, well, increasingly "Should anything that happened, or at least, a version of what happened, anytime, always be available on the internet?" is being seen as the right question. The changes to the Communications Decency Act are a big indicator that this is the question now being asked, rendering the question about search results moot.

            It's part of the trend that has started with "let the companies try and sort their shit out", and because that's not working it is now possibly moving on to "make the companies pay for the damage they cause", and when that too proves to be an incomplete solution it will move once more on to "let's fully regulate OTT service provision, just like we do with telephones (i.e. legal ID of subscribers as a condition of service)".

            The fact that companies don't seem to be able to spot this trend is, I think, amusingly ironic. One might argue that there is no trend in that direction, but that'd fly in the face of the available evidence (government inspired ad boycotts, government policy papers on fining / taxing social media companies, existing regulation of telephony services, pressure and statements from law enforcement agencies, the general failure of AI content filtering, the on-going grumblings from advertisers about the placement of their ads next to objectionable content, etc).

            I'm not suggesting that regulation is a nice, soft, cosy thing (it isn't; it's not meant to be, it is dealing in nastiness). Given the choice between regulation set out in law in a democracy and full-on Chinese style Great Firewall total government censorship system (another technically valid approach to controlling what's online), I'd choose lawful regulation every time.

            Is there some positive spin that can be put on regulation? Well, the companies would no longer be responsible for content, the users would be, and the change in liability would not be the companies' fault. It'd make the Internet a legal quagmire for users (it already is, it's just that they almost always get away with ignoring that at the moment). It'd be a level playing field - all companies would be affected equally, so there's no impact. Users would no longer tolerate analytics being deployed on their lives; so perhaps this would wean the companies off ad-funded and onto a subscription-funded basis (they'd save a ton of overhead along the way).

            A further possibility is that it might enrich the industry / users. The aviation industry has grown enormously over the past few decades, thanks entirely to a strong regulatory regime transforming the business of commercial flying into the safest form of transport. Regulation could help the tech industry grow even more, by helping cleaning up the Internet.

            In short, there may be some unexpected bonuses.

            And if we're inevitably going to get regulation of OTT services, perhaps that'd be better done in a coordinated, global manner rather than piecemeal. Perhaps the companies should be asking for it, just to get it coordinated. Fighting it would make the many iterations of adaption between today and then very expensive.

            1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Yes

              "The aviation industry has grown enormously over the past few decades, thanks ENTIRELY [my emphasis] to a strong regulatory regime transforming the business of commercial flying"

              Eh? Seriously WTF? What about the explosion in popularity of flying in 3rd world and developing nations?

              I think you must be some sort of big-govt fan. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for strong regulation of flying, but the general worldwide lift in personal incomes, the massive reduction in costs, these have more to do with the "explosion" in the industry than the regulation.

              1. LDS Silver badge

                "What about the explosion in popularity of flying in 3rd world and developing nations"

                Besides developing nations, there are also low-cost companies in the West.

                Low-cost companies can have those low prices exactly because planes are now much safer and cheaper to fly than they would if no strong regulatory regime existed.

                That's true in many other fields, and it's no surprise now big producers are trying to attack regulations because they could increase profits if they could pass costs and risks onto customers again.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Yes

        But that is the pointm Joey. Google has to delist it, because the infromation is no longer relevant or is errneous, but the original source cannot / does not have to take it down (E.g. it is public record). So there has to be a fine balance, the information cannot be removed (freedom of speech), but itis no longer legally relevant, therefore it shouldn't be turned up in search results.

        Think of it another way. In the past, the information was printed in a newspaper and after a time, it was "forgotten", because most people had thrown out their newspapers or they had been used to wrap last night's fish and chips in. A few people saved cuttings and major libraries saved entire copies (or transferred them to microfiche). All was good with the world. The average person wasn't confronted with the information every time they looked out the door, but anyone doing legitimate research could still find the information.

        Now we come to the Internet and the search engines remember "everything", but rank it according to their special sauce, not according to legal relevance. Therefore the courts are stepping in to say that this information is no longer relevant and is detrimental to the persons who's names are being searched for - i.e. the informaiton is now legally irrelevant and cannot be used in making any decisions; therefore, if you apply for a job, for example, and you have a spent conviction, it cannot be used against you, but if Google still returns it as a top result for your name, the personnel manager can't "unsee" it. That would leave the personnel department in hot water, if they refused you the job and it came out that they had seen this information.

        On the other hand, if someone is doing a biography, they can still go to the source and search their archives directly (newspapers, court archives etc.) and find the information.

        (And it isn't just Google, it is any search engine.)

        1. stiine Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Yes

          Relevant to whom?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Yes

          >Now we come to the Internet and the search engines remember "everything"

          Search engines don't 'remember' everything. They simply maintain a heap of stuff they regularly trawl from live websites. So it isn't Google et al who 'remember' your 20-year-old transgression, but some third-party website that allows search bots to crawl all over their site, giving the same access to their 20-year-old stuff as they give to the new and 'current' stuff.

          So the real need is for search engines to better curate the search results and for websites to have some form of public/historical records tag that causes the underlying data to be treated differently by the search engines. All sounds simple until you consider what searches for people such as "John Kennedy" should be returning on their first page...

    2. JohnFen

      "We aren't talking about removing it from the net. We are talking about removing it from google."

      Which, in a way, is worse. In this sense, the RTBF is intellectually dishonest. If the content is that bad, wouldn't it make more sense to actually force it to be taken down rather than saying that nobody can tell you where it is?

      One of the reasons that it doesn't require this is because the outright censorship involved would be more obvious.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        @JohnFen we are talking about legal records here, these can't be taken down, because they have to be available, but after a certain time they become legally "irrelevant" for any future decisions about the names person, therefore the de-referencing of them in the public search engines.

        If you really want to know, you can still go to the source and search that locally, but for general searches it would be illegal to include the results.

        Anything that was really bad (i.e. liablous, inaccurate etc.) can be taken down at source, or if it is public record, a retraction with the same prominence published - but how is search engine to know that the retraction now has to be returned as the first result? That is the problem we have, public record is there, but in the past after a "natural" amount of time, it fell into obscurity, unless you really did the leg work to find the information, which is how it was supposed to work. Search engines, on the other hand, mean this natural order of things no longer happens and artificial ways are being found to ensure people's rights are violated.

        The RTBF is the only solution that has been put forward so far to maintain the legal requirements of irrelevant information not being returned as top results. It isn't ideal, but it is better than nothing, which is what the search engines are offering.

        And that is the problem, Google, Facebook and Twitter seem to be saying that laws (RTBF, election laws, adertising laws etc.) don't apply to them, because they work at such a scale that it would not be economically viable for them to ensure they don't break the law. Whereas the courts are saying that these companies should have put the relevant checks and balances in place before they got to big and those checks and balances would have grown with the scale... Of course compliance with laws is awkward, and if you have ignored it until people come knocking at the door with fines, it is going to be much harder to implement than if you had actually designed your system to work within existing laws in the first place.

        Also, there is a caveat that prominent personalities cannot have information removed, because it is in the public interest, as long as the information is correct - which a court has to decide and then, in most cases, the original material will be taken down, so it won't affect the search engines anyway; unless they have cached the information and don't clear it out in a reasonable time.

      2. Zane-insane

        "Which, in a way, is worse. In this sense, the RTBF is intellectually dishonest. If the content is that bad, wouldn't it make more sense to actually force it to be taken down rather than saying that nobody can tell you where it is?"

        That would be better, but in reality tracking down the owners and making them to do this would often not be possible. Particularly if they locate themselves in a country to bypass their responsibility. Your average person would not have the resources to successfully remove the content that should be removed. Of course, part of the issue is how Google chooses to index results and their interpretation of relevancy.

    3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      "I mean cat images aside. They are always worth it."

      That was almost worth not down-voting you, because, well, cats rule. But the rest, yuk: have a downvote.

      1. m0rt

        @clunking fist

        ""I mean cat images aside. They are always worth it."

        That was almost worth not down-voting you, because, well, cats rule. But the rest, yuk: have a downvote."

        'Yuk'?

        Ok, far better to expound on yuk and explain where you feel I am wrong to ask the questions or intimate what I had.

        The nature of the internet means that people will use it both 'rightly' and 'wrongly'. Which are both subjective. There is no moral arbiter of what can exist on the internet, regardless of what anyone says. Once something is up, if someone wants it up it will stay up. Legal or anarchistic. Whatever you *think* should happen, in a singular governmental or private organisation you have rules. Those rules, for the most part, both arose and allow that social structure to exist without resorting to a free for all, in which things couldn't function well.

        No, put aside, for a moment, the different, ahem, philosophical ideas from various locations, the idea that we can, to some degree, have various rules that allow for a balance of process that works for all.

        Will this get abused by the more powerful? You betcha.

        Does this allow those with less backing or resources to also take advantage of this? Defintely.

        However, current norms within the global make-up mean that whatever is setup, will equally be abused and used justly in varying measures. The only other constant is anything can exist on the internet. In which case, usually only the powerful have any hope of getting changes. And they do, to protect themselves, companies, governments or those with Law firms on retainer.

        At the same time that also levels out the playing field, in that it gives an avenue for those that fight against those more powerful than them to use the internet/web as a platform to get arguments or injustices out.

        Either method has pros and cons from any position, except anarchists (Which I am not necessarily against, btw). The argument that any kind of rules applied to the interwebs should not be applied because it allows for precedent, and will be used to control people and play into the hands of the powerful is not really a mature argument. Whatever tool available, the printing press, newspapers, popular opinion, has always been thus controlled to some degree to that party. But at the same time, there has also been protections used to reduce abuses.

        Does mean to say those abuses won't happen, but the same laws that restrict you also restrict those others.

        Should the internet be allowed to have whatever content it wants?

        No - obviously because there are some sick things out there. But whatever rules are in play, various justices will still get out, because a law is just a statement that is used to justify actions that come about in consequence. Doesn't stop anyone from doing it.

        If google *just* indexed the web based on a publically available algorithm, I doubt this law would even be thought about. But then we would also be swamped with people gaming the net. Then there would be other search engines that do other things to filter out what they don't want you to see, or include what it is they think you want to see. And they would be gamed, and so on.

        The internet will end up regulated, whether we like it or not. To take an oposing position of 'regulation is bad' because of what it can end up with is to not engage and fight a losing battle. In which case you will end up on whatever underground network results to get around that regulation. (Dark web etc, I hate that expression btw).

        But to say 'Yuk'? I would rather you could downvote me as many times as you wanted.

        This maybe a little disjointed, I apologise for that. It is early, still, and I wrote a lot and I should edit this but I don't have time.

  2. LDS Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find"

    And should Google be allowed? Google is not a non-profit organization with a known set of rules and algorithms open to everybody to check if they're fair or not.

    It's a for-profit organization with its own agenda, especially a commercial one that bias it towards "popularity" and not "precision".

    And I'm sure any search result about Google's executives and their relatives and friends are accurately censored to avoid any bad result...

    Putting too much power in its hands is more dangerous than having courts ruling about the right to be forgotten.

    1. a pressbutton

      Re: "should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find"

      And should Google be allowed?

      Yes.

      You do not have to use google.

      The other side of the point is that if you do not use google, or similar which will also be subject to the same rulings, you will not find it.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "You do not have to use google."

        It's applicable to any search engine. Google is here the problem because it's by far the most used in the Western part of the world, and in some other countries as well.

        Search engines became a too important part of everyday life to think they can work as they please and without respecting the law.

        Or do you believe, for example, car makers should be allowed to build cars like the Pinto and burn buyers, because, you can avoid to buy a car - even if the closest grocery is now miles away?

    2. A____B

      Re: "should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find"

      "And I'm sure any search result about Google's executives and their relatives and friends are accurately censored to avoid any bad result..."

      Google definitely applies this to itself as an organisation

      For example: Try to find the contact details for Google's Data Protection Officer. For a search engine company they seem not to be able to find this info (I'm sure they wouldn't seek to hide it deliberately). Oh and writing to their head office [in my case in the UK] gets a boilerplate non-answer and statements that Google LLC may hold some information.

      So, yes, Google does apply different standards for itself vs for ordinary folk.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find"

        The only problem with that rant is that Googling "Google data protection officer” tells me (7th result down on the first page) that Keith Enright was appointed as their DPO back in May.

  3. JimmyPage
    Boffin

    Google split ?

    I wonder if there's a solution in separating Google the search engine, from Google the ad-slinger ?

    Ad-slinging requires the Googly goodness which fucks around with the nature and order of results returned. There's no question that Google have had their sticky little fingers in the pot, and can hardly claim "wot, me guv ?" when told that if they can manipulate those search results, then they can jolly well manipulate these search results.

    However, if a search engine is just returning a list of what's there - warts and all - then it has a pretty good defence of being a common carrier. Unless we are going to start reindexing dead-tree archives ?

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "However, if a search engine is just returning a list of what's there"

      Just, the way you order the list could be biased. How do you rank result? Popularity? Date and time? Relevance - for what meaning of "relevance"? How do you ensure the contents of the list are "correct" - for what meaning of "correct"? Should all sources be treated equally? Look at how SEO companies can manipulate the list - should SEO be made illegal?

      There's a big problem - search engines, especially the biggest one, became the gateway and gatekeepers of information - far more than TV and newspaper became in the past century, and even them, could cover just a small subset of people.

      When what they show becomes a source of "truth", and people start to make their decision on what the return, they become a huge liability, the more so if their inner workings are unknown and fully controlled by a commercial entity - even if it is separated from other operations like ads-slinging.

      There are many questions that have no easy answer - but surely the wrong one is "Google knows better, let it operate as it likes".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How do you rank result?

        as the user requested ?

        If you want to get really pernickety about it, you could require Google to ask "How do you want to see results ordered" for every search, so it couldn't be accused of any bias ?

        1. Tabor

          Re: How do you rank result?

          “you could require Google to ask "How do you want to see results ordered" for every search”

          Interesting thought, I tried it, but the big G doesn’t seem to understand a basic sql query.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "as the user requested ?"

          While it could be simple, for example, if the user ask "by date", what if the user ask for "relevance"? Who selects what is "relevant"? Which algorithm is being used? Is it biased? Has bugs? It becomes quickly a minefield.

        3. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          Re: How do you rank result?

          "How do you want to see results ordered"

          By price, starting with the cheapest.

          What? So I like a bargain.

      2. JimC

        Re: should SEO be made illegal?

        Its a nice thought. I'm not sure I can see a downside. I'm certainly struggling to think of one...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Such a Google split is fantasy

      If there was a Google that provides only search results, and another that sells ads, how the hell does the search-only Google make money? Are they supposed to operate at a (large) loss for the good of the world?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remove Google from the Net?

    Bring it on.

    Can't come soon enough. If they won't abide by the laws of the places where they operate then they should either pay up without complaint when they get fined or just shut up shop and go home. I'm sure that Trump will give you a tickertape welcome.

    The world would be a better place without their data slurping.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: Remove Google from the Net?

      That sounds a lot like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      I am with everyone who considers Google to be a threat. However, laws like the GDPR don't apply just to Google. Something isn't necessarily good just because it hurts Google. It may hurt everyone, after all.

  5. RobertLongshaft

    Ah Google.

    "we support free speech when it suits us but we're actively censoring the search algorithms to push our political agenda"

    We either have full unadulterated free speech for all supported by the tech giants or we have none at all, you don't get to have your cake and eat it.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Ah Google.

      "you don't get to have your cake and eat it."

      You're talking about gay cake, aren't you?

      I'll get me coat.

  6. Christoph

    If any nation state can demand global removal of search results, how long will it be before the Vatican (a recognised nation state) requires removal of all search links to stories of Catholic priests abusing children?

    (And maybe later to anything promoting contraception, abortion, divorce, rights of women, etc.)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "requires removal of all search links to stories of Catholic priests abusing children"

      Do you mean that a priest wrongly accused of abuses - it happens - will need to be damned for eternity in Google's Hell?

      The right to be forgotten applies to individuals in specific searches, not to a blank removal of everything.

      And beware, one day it could happen to you too....

      1. Christoph

        Re: "requires removal of all search links to stories of Catholic priests abusing children"

        "Do you mean that a priest wrongly accused of abuses - it happens - will need to be damned for eternity in Google's Hell?"

        They should be treated exactly the same as any other individual found innocent after being wrongly accused. They should not get special privileged treatment simply by having powerful friends - any more than any politician should.

    2. ratfox

      Actually, it's easy. The influence countries can exert on Google depends on their ability to fine Google. If Google makes a ton of money in a country, and has offices there, the country has leverage. A country might also be able, to some extent, to prevent Google from making money there even if they have no office, by blocking ads or taxing to death contracts with foreign ad services. Vatican has no office, and Google makes hardly any money there, so no problem.

      As long as the countries where Google does most of its money agree on what search results are acceptable or not, Google will just do whatever they all want. If these countries start to disagree, it might well be that at some point, Google will decide by themselves to separate into multiple smaller companies by countries of influence, so that each company can follow the local rules without being sued by other countries. If I remember correctly, Yahoo Japan is already powered by Google, so they could build on that model to avoid issues with inconsistent laws across countries.

    3. strum

      >If any nation state can demand global removal of search results, how long will it be before the Vatican (a recognised nation state) requires removal of all search links to stories of Catholic priests abusing children?

      They would have to make a legal case (publicly) for that to happen.

  7. sinsi

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be so happy if it's extended worldwide.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be so happy if it's extended worldwide.

      and Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow(*), President of Turkmenistan.

      (*) No, I have no idea how to say that.

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    If CNIL wins would it mean ...

    that Barbra could force Wikipedia to remove this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect ?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: If CNIL wins would it mean ...

      "If CNIL wins would it mean ...

      that Barbra could force Wikipedia to remove this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect ?"

      Not unless she's an EU resident.

      1. stiine Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: If CNIL wins would it mean ...

        You do realize that the law applies to persons in the EU, not just citizens of the EU, right?

  9. Velv
    FAIL

    ENOUGH

    When is sense going to prevail and the law force the removal of the original content, not the search results

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: ENOUGH

      "When is sense going to prevail and the law force the removal of the original content, not the search results"

      Because THAT would really and truly be censorship

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: ENOUGH

      Actually, there are instances when the law can force the removal of the original content - but that needs the content to be illegal.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: ENOUGH

        Actually, the content does not have to be illegal in order to have it taken it down at source.

        The right to erasure (GDPR Article 17) can be exercised by the data subject (and only by the data subject or their legal guardian or representative if they are under age or incapable) on either the search provider or on the sourcing data controller, but only in respect of the processing they themselves perform.

        So exercise against Google would, if successful, require prevention of a search result appearing, but exercise against the sourcing data controller (again if successful) would require deletion of the original material.

        There is a provision (Article 17, paragraph 2), albeit limited by 'practicability', that requires a data controller to inform any parties with which it has shared the data of the exercise of the right. So supposing that spidering and listing by Google constitutes sharing, exercising the right against the sourcing data controller might be more effective than exercising it against Google, as the sourcing controller would be expected to inform Google of the exercise of the right. If Google were so informed and did not follow suit, it would have to explain why if challenged.

        The primary real question is therefore whether a sourcing data controller is 'sharing' with Google, as there is not necessarily a contractual sharing relationship. Indeed the sourcing data controller may not even be aware of Google spidering and recording their site, as Google operates autonomously without reference to the sourcing data controller and will spider and record any site it sees fit. There is, however, an expectation - indeed a presumption that a web site made public will be added to Google's site database. Whether this constitutes data sharing in law is the point I feel should be clarified first and foremost, as it would help to define the obligations of the different parties to the data subject.

  10. David Pearce

    When concealing the search to hide the information in another country where the persons crime is not allowed to be forgotten, Google are then possibly breaking the law

    1. ratfox
      Paris Hilton

      I don't think any country has ever required Google to return specific search results?

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Google are then possibly breaking the law

      Which law requires search engine to return actual, correct and relevant results? If any exist, Google would already be bankrupt because of the fines, and all its executives would be in jail.

  11. Harry Stottle

    What's the alleged point?

    can someone please explain what is SUPPOSED to happen as a result of google's "delisting"?

    I came across this BBC Page a few months back, in a similar context. It lists all the pages google has allegedly delisted.

    I tried a dozen or so of the links. You get to the BBC story. It's usually fairly obvious who would have an interest in suppressing the story. So then I went to google and pasted in their name to see what would come up. In all but one case the BBC story itself came up in the first page of results. In ALL cases, some other equally damaging reference to the person/story also appeared on the first results page.

    So what exactly is the alleged effect/benefit of the delisting?

    1. ratfox

      Re: What's the alleged point?

      So what exactly is the alleged effect/benefit of the delisting?

      It's not always the person you think that requested the story to be delisted for their name. Sometimes, it has been people who just commented on the article.

      That said, it could be that people were not thorough when they did their request; if I understand correctly, they need to list every single url that they want removed, so they might have forgotten a few or dismissed them as not worth the trouble.

  12. ayank

    Extending national sovereignty is a terrible idea...

    The problem here is one of extending one nation's sovereignty over other nations involuntarily.

    Remember that Google France is a distinct legal entity than Google USA, both of which are owned by Alphabet. What the EU court is deciding is whether or not Google France can be held legally liable for actions of Google USA, simply because both are owned by Alphabet.

    That's a huge problem, because, as Free Speech advocates point out, it means that countries such as Russia can then enforce their laws on Google USA or Google France due to Google Russia being subject to Russian law. That is, Russia can simply threaten Google Russia's very existence if Google USA doesn't comply with Russian demands.

    This isn't International Law here. This is attempting to extend one particular country's law over other country's, in a de facto sovereignty grab.

    The EU court should VERY carefully consider this and reject the idea. Pretty sure that the EU doesn't want EU companies being held hostage to US law, even though they never sold a single product in the USA?

    1. Alan Mackenzie

      Re: Extending national sovereignty is a terrible idea...

      > This isn't International Law here. This is attempting to extend one particular country's law over other country's, in a de facto sovereignty grab.

      No, not at all. Compare with the law of confidentiality: if you leave the country and divulge secrets somewhere else, then come home again, you'll be liable for penalties, whether civil or criminal. Is that also a sovereighty grab? If not, what's the difference?

    2. LDS Silver badge

      " countries such as Russia can then enforce"

      If you chase money in authoritarian states, you surely have to sell your soul to the devil.

      Actually Apple & C. are already censoring their operations in China. And Google is planning to return to China abiding to the regime censorship. Why they are OK with full scale censorship when it fills their bank accounts, while fighting microscopic removals of information no longer relevant in EU? That's pure hypocrisy.

      I would pull out from any of those states.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: " countries such as Russia can then enforce"

        You're missing the point. "Self-censorship in order to participate in the largest economy in the world" is what you should have used in place of "censoring their operations in China". At which point, the accountant in you would have realized that leaving 1 in 5 of the worlds population to competitors would be foolish in the extreme.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "the accountant in you would have realized that leaving 1 in 5"

          Sure, just for a bunch of money you're letting authoritarian states have their cake and eat it, while you use those money to lobby in democratic states against democratic rules. What is more foolish, in the long term?

  13. codejunky Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Yup

    "European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find when they use a search engine."

    And why not? Because the ministry of truth cannot be trusted to tell the truth.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not do it the old fashioned way...

    ...by sending Google a DMCA takedown notice to force them to remove the offending content?

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/23/corporations_dmca_abuse/

    Even Google's own vice president has been accused of doing the same:

    https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/who-filed-fake-copyright-infringement-complaints-against-agencyspy/114112

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not do it the old fashioned way...

      You are so right.

      Why aren't more people complaining how Google France search results have been censored for years by the DMCA? Why would the DMCA apply on French soil, and Informatique & Liberté not apply on US soil?

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what Internet users around the world find when they use a search engine."

    And the point is being well and truly missed. European data regulators aren't deciding what internet users around the world find. They're empowering individuals to decide what should not be found about themselves. It's a big difference. It's about individual data subject's rights.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if freedom of speech is predicated on a private company's ability to host/censor the message then the private company should no longer be considered private and should become a public service.

  17. Roboiii

    Breath the free air indeed.

    Seriously F#ck europe. Orwell & Huxley were so correct.

  18. Zane-insane

    Rights for the ordinary man

    This isn't about state censorship, there's sufficient safeguards in GDPR for this in terms of public interest. This is about privacy of individuals. Google is already removing results across all sites due to copyright infringement, so there is already precedent. They are only fighting it because this is of the benefit of ordinary members of public rather than big business.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Rights for the ordinary man

      @ Zane-insane

      "Google is already removing results across all sites due to copyright infringement, so there is already precedent."

      And this is why sceptical people say 'give an inch and they take a mile'. This is why in the UK we dont want ID cards. The US dont want more gun regs. Even a legitimate situation of copyright can be used as an excuse to power grab.

      "This isn't about state censorship"

      Honest. Yeah right pull the other one it has bells on.

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