It's a sad time.
I almost skipped this article since it was contributed from the U$A.
Germany's high court has sided with Google by upholding lower court rulings that rejected a right-to-be-forgotten privacy claim, and it delayed another case to seek clarification from top Euro judges. On Monday, the German Federal Court of Justice (Der Bundesgerichtshof, or BGH) said the managing director of a regional charity …
All these cases regarding the right to be forgotten seem to involve Google. Granted that Google is the Hoover of the vacuum cleaner world but there are other good search engines around; Bing has a decent following and all my ITC kit defaults to DuckDuckGo (despite the daft name). If the original articles remain available, other search engines will find it. Also, doesn't an insistence that Google "forgets" somebody mean that Google actually has to remember to filter their name from ongoing search results?
I used to work in cybersecurity and that field is not far from the anti bullying and child protection field. At policy conferences we’d rub shoulders with people from those areas (I imagine that nowadays you’d find revenge porn campaigners there too) and I once sat through a presentation from a woman whose ex boyfriend from when she was 15 or 16 had created web pages full of provocative photos of her with accompanying texts. He had also posted them to all sorts of image sites and message boards. All under her name.
After graduating from a top university she had great trouble finding a job because any prospective employer who would Google her would find pages and pages of photos of her with half her clothes on and saucy texts. She has had to legally change her name to get round this.
This happened in the US, where there is no RTBF, and I have just checked, if you Google for her old name all these photos still show up. Ten years after she had given that presentation and fifteen years after the photos had been taken.
I have been a staunch advocate of the RTBF ever since. It protects the normal people, not the dodgy politicians or crooks. Don’t forget, it doesn’t remove the articles from anywhere, protections for journalism still exist. The rule of thumb for the RTBF is that for any person or incident that is big enough to (theoretically) warrant its own Wikipedia entry, the RTBF is not going to help.
In this case, I think that a stronger law should be used to completely take down the pages, and possibly go after the ex-boyfriend. The RTBF is made for removing results on old stories that no one cares about; it would be relatively powerless against a deliberate character assassination strategy.
Oh, I definitely agree that this is a more serious case than your average RTBF case. I forgot the details of the legal routes she had pursued. This case also pre-dates the RTBF becoming legal reality as that presentation was around 2010.
At the time cyberbullying campaigners, privacy groups etc. were advocating a way that would allow people to be delisted from search engine databases but it was still largely a concept, a proposal. That it would later (via a lawsuit by a Spanish man who wanted an article on his historic personal bankruptcy removed from Google's search DB) be turned into a legal precedent and later codified in law was beyond anyone's imagination at the time.
I can, however, image that having eye catching cases such as the one I described will have made people realise that something needed to be done.
The road to tyranny is paved with good intentions.
In countries that actually have freedom of speech, the government can't force the unpublishing of anything. The most a citizen can do might be to sue for libel if what is published isn't true. But the reason countries that have real freedom of speech have it is that they made the decision that blocking the government from suppressing speech was worth the occasional collateral damage that might occur.
The road to tyranny is paved with good intentions.
This is not about the US Constitution or American law. This is exclusively for the other side of the pond. In cases such as this the database entries must only be removed for EU territory, Google can still legally show them in other jurisdictions. They may decide to remove them altogether to make it easier for themselves but I have never checked that.
In countries that actually have freedom of speech, the government can't force the unpublishing of anything. The most a citizen can do might be to sue for libel if what is published isn't true. But the reason countries that have real freedom of speech have it is that they made the decision that blocking the government from suppressing speech was worth the occasional collateral damage that might occur.This is not a government forcing anyone to unpublish anything.
Firstly, this is a purely private case between a private citizen and a private company. The government is no party in the case and is not suppressing anything. Secondly, the RTBF is not about publishing. It can not be used to remove articles or force corrections. It is limited to the storing of personal information in the databases of search engines.
Needless to say, it has no effect on Freedom of Expression (as it's called here, article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights) as it doesn't block citizens from expressing themselves or consuming the expression of others.
"This is not about the US Constitution or American law."
The OP didn't mention the US at all, they mentioned tyranny, which is a concept I suspect even Europeans have some mild feelings about.
"This is not a government forcing anyone to unpublish anything . . . this is a purely private case between a private citizen and a private company."
It's about a private citizen using the weight of government enforcement to compel a private company to do something, in this case make publicly available information more difficult to locate. I'm not fan of slippery slope arguments, but I can easily see how this process could be used abusively by a variety of actors to suppress access to information. The information doesn't have to go away, it just has to be unfindable . . . just ask your local planning department about their bypass-construction plans!
You're misstating the points you're replying to.
"This is not about the US Constitution or American law. This is exclusively for the other side of the pond. In cases such as this the database entries must only be removed for EU territory, Google can still legally show them in other jurisdictions."
Not only was the U.S. not mentioned, but this is a comparison. Countries in Europe do it this way, other countries do it a different way. The comment you replied to was contrasting these approaches and stating opinions based on this comparison.
"This is not a government forcing anyone to unpublish anything."
Wrong. You seem to have two parts to this argument. Let's look at each:
"Firstly, this is a purely private case between a private citizen and a private company."
No, this is a case between a private citizen, a private company, and a national government using a national law which is interpreted by a national court. The law decides what that private citizen is allowed to demand. The law allows the government to penalize the company if it doesn't comply. It is that law, and the government that created, interprets, and enforces it which makes this a governmental matter. It is true that the government isn't making unilateral demands, and in this case they refused to support the citizen's demands, but the law gives them power and it is that power which we are talking about here.
"Secondly, the RTBF is not about publishing. It can not be used to remove articles or force corrections. It is limited to the storing of personal information in the databases of search engines."
Wrong again. It is not about the storing of personal information in their databases. It is about storing of impersonal data, namely specific links. Which they are going to publish if it's in their database in the search results area. Which this law would make it illegal to publish. Your second phrase is wrong, and your first phrase is only technically right based on a limited definition of "publish". We have had many an argument in this forum about whether deciding and sending search results is publishing, and some of us think it is. Even if it isn't, it limits what Google is allowed to write to their search results pages. Not about personal information.
You can argue against the point in many ways. I would agree with some possible arguments. The points stated in that comment are exaggerated and not well-argued. There are lots of legitimate avenues for dispute. You did not choose to take any of them.
I'm sorry but you are wrong about this law and wrong about the principles. Look at the cases and look at how the law developed and you'll see that it revolves around personal information, not about links.
If Google has indexed an article from fifteen years ago that states that Joe Bloggs has filed for personal bankruptcy the personal information is "Joe Bloggs has filed for personal bankruptcy on 15 August 2004".
Typically the law in European countries considers that journalism protections and freedom of expression trump personal interest and so Joe Bloggs can only have the article taken down (or more likely, corrected) if he can proof the information is false. If it's not demonstrably false he can not force depublication, neither can governments.
What Joe Bloggs can do, however, is argue that he never consented to having the personal information "Joe Bloggs has filed for personal bankruptcy on 15 August 2004" stored in a database that is not covered by the same protections that protect journalism. Google Search is not journalism. Hence, he can have a search engine's record that contains "Joe Bloggs has filed for personal bankruptcy on 15 August 2004" removed from the database. That principle was later codified in the RTBF.
EU Law is very strict on privacy of individuals and on storing personal information. Storing personal information without the subject's consent or without a special derogation (an official bankruptcy register does not need Joe Bloggs' consent to store information specifically related to his bankruptcy) can land you in hot water.
Google is not allowed to collect and store such information from other parts of the law. The fact that the right to be forgotten had to be enacted as a separate section, rather than coming organically from other sections, clearly indicates that it is a separate thing. Among some of the details that make this different is the fact that Google's database does not specifically say any of this; it simply knows that a certain page happens to contain those words; the entry for a page stating "Person X declared bankruptcy", "Person X presided over a hearing for declared bankruptcy", and "Person X fought against creditors who declared bankruptcy" look rather similar. In addition, if they are required to remove access to the page, they are not required to remove it from the database. In fact, they are required to put it in another database so they know not to link to it. The parts of GDPR regulating personal information would have required deletion, which this does not.
Sorry, you are wrong, and Len is right.
The issue here is generating dossiers about people. It is illegal to generate a dossier of information about me that includes information covered by RTBF (you can argue about what should be covered by RTBF but that is a different question). That covers private investigators and other people who report information about individuals. That is the tradeoff society has decided to make: sure it means people can hide things but society has decided that is the tradeoff it wants to make - right or wrong.
Once you have that decision, it obviously covers search engines as well. If I type a question about a person into a search engine I am asking them to create an on-the-fly dossier about the person and answer my question. The fact that they do it by indexing web pages has nothing to do with it -- they cannot provide information subject to RTBF about people whether it comes from web pages or from photographs taken outside their house with a long lens.
The point is that (in these countries) information about people is special. It has to be handled very differently from other information and comes with a long list of legal requirements. That is what those societies have decided.
> In this case, I think that a stronger law should be used to completely take down the pages, and possibly go after the ex-boyfriend.
There are already laws against copyright infringement, stalking, and harrassment. The problem is that a website could be hosted anywhere in the world, including places where US laws do not apply.
Your story is of course the good reason why this law exists. However...
> It protects the normal people, not the dodgy politicians or crooks.
Most of the stories I've read about the RTBF involve convicted fraudsters trying to hide evidence that you should not allow them to run your charity / company / government. If you had RTBF in the USA I would guess the person who would use it the most would be Donald of Orange.
The RTBF wouldn't help Donald Trump one bit. It's not as if a Google search is almost exclusively the way to discover what Trump has been up to recently or decades ago. We have journalism for that and an RTBF would not block a journalist writing about all the cases he was accused of wrongdoing and publishing that far and wide. When you hear the news about what he has been up to this time, did you find that because you Googled 'What has Donald Trump done now?" or because you saw it in the headlines?
That's where that RTBF rule of thumb comes in. If someone of something is big enough to theoretically be covered in a Wikipedia entry then the RTBF is not going to make a difference.
I wouldn't rely too much on the stories your read about in the news. By its very nature news only covers remarkable cases. The only cases that make the news are attempts to be delisted by notorious people, where you feel that maybe it's a good thing if it was discoverable. If Joe Bloggs gets an entry for a fifteen year old article removed he his hardly going to go to the press to say that he has finally got that link to that article removed. It would be a form of the Streisand Effect.
It might not help Trump now, but it could have helped the Trump of 2014 who was considering running for president. Getting all the negative articles about him and his businesses (stories about his bankruptcies etc.) off Google would totally be something he would have had his lawyers do had US law allowed it. In fact I'll bet he asked and was upset when told there was no law to help and their usual threat tactics wouldn't work against a company as big as Google.
Of course it turned out not to matter because his supporters are so gullible they will believe any excuse or claim he comes up with no matter how ridiculous. But for someone else not as gifted a liar as he is it could make the difference between political success vs shame and ignominy.
I currently do work in IT security. While I don't want to be accused of victim-blaming, a better way to keep from having provocative photos of yourself published on the web is to not take them or allow someone else to take them! Ever!
I'm so tired of the attitude of young people (millennials especially) that don't seem to understand that there are consequences to their actions. If you take nude pictures of yourself and send them to ANYONE, you run the risk of them ending up on the web somewhere.
I'm a huge privacy advocate. I strongly believe in the right to privacy. But, I also believe in "don't do stupid things".
So, now we give governments an excuse to pass laws censoring the internet and limiting free speech because "someone should do something". All of this because of irresponsible people doing stupid things and then whining about the consequences.
I know I will get a bunch of down-votes from the crowd that thinks someone else should be responsible for their actions. So, go ahead...
I’m one of your downvoters. Not because I disagree with you about people being responsible for their own actions. But precisely because i do believe in responsibility in all its meanings. Yes, it’s foolish to allow the photos, but making mistakes is what young people do.
The reason for the downvote is the "victim blaming". The person responsible for the horrible crime of stalking is the wrong-doer. Not the person who makes a perfectly legal decision you and I regard as foolish. Just because I accidentally leave my door open, doesn’t make it OK for you to steal my stuff. The law is very clear on this, in both types of cases. And so it bloody well should be.
He’s responsible for being a horrible scumbag. She merely made a mistake. And don’t tell me you didn’t do anything equally stupid when you were growing up, even if you were lucky and got away without consequences. If you did, I salute you for your unique perspicacity. I don’t think I know anyone that doesn’t have youthful mistakes they regret making. At least our generation's weren’t recorded on ubiquitous recording devices, and published for the world to see.
Many of us did a large number of stupid things as young people.
Fortunately, digital cameras did not exist in an affordable, ubiquitous form at that time.
Also, I hate you for reminding me that I no longer qualify as a "young person". My shoulders and back remind me of that fact far too often as it is already!
Back when the internet was just getting it's second wind I was responsible for initial interviews for external candidates to join the technical team I worked in. As part of my preparation for these, I used to look up all the information I could about the prospective people including from all of the nascent social media sites I could be bothered to join. I used this to get a more rounded picture of the people who where applying to join our group than I would get from their application (and interview) alone.
Did I rule out a person because they had a picture of themselves drunkenly leering at the camera at some party, of course not. Did I reject people out of hand because somebody else had posted nude or lewd pictures of them (happened on more than one occasion, go figure) all over the proto-internet, certainly not.
I don't know about the rest of you but I expect people to be people and have a life. There is a responsibility for us all to recognise this and not to castigate people out of some misguided tendency to herd together in the foothills of the moral high ground. Most philosophy's of life have something to say on this and it usually involves looking inward before being too harsh on others.
The right to be forgotten might have it's place although I personally think it's fatality flawed. But what we all have is a responsibility to be less trigger happy to leap to conclusions about other peoples behavior. Especially if we don't know them from Adam.
I approve of your enlightened attitude to recruitment. Sadly I'm not sure how many people share it. In a lot of cases the early stages of hiring often seem to involve whittling down the large number of applications to a manageable number to seriously consider. So it's much more of a negative process of finding reasons to move on to the next candidate. Rather than positively assessing each application in an attempt to find the very best person. Sad, but true.
Also HR departments tend to be risk averse, by design.
"The pair sued Google to prevent online searches that included their names from displaying links to the article and images."
It would be more effective and rational to sue the host of the relevant article in order to get it taken down. The GDPR "right to be forgotten" (Article 17) is legitimately exercised against the Data Controller, and it is highly questionable whether Google is the Data Controller in such cases as this, as it's the content that is being objected to, not the listing per se.
Article 17.2 states:"Where the controller has made the personal data public and is obliged pursuant to paragraph 1 to erase the personal data, the controller,[...] shall take reasonable steps, [...] to inform controllers which are processing the personal data that the data subject has requested the erasure by such controllers of any links to, or copy or replication of, those personal data."
This effectively means that the party that might be expected approach Google to remove the listing is not the Data Subject but the host of the disputed content pursuant to the exercise of the Data Subject's right under Article 17. In any case, if the content were taken down, Google's listing would probably quite soon get purged by its bots failing to find it any more.
"3 thumbs up & 1 thumb down"
There is a certain individual who has taken it upon themselves to downvote every post I make, about every topic and at every time. I came to this conclusion when every single one of my posts got at least one down vote, even entirely innocuous ones.
I therefore tested this theory by placing a post on a week-old news article, at the bottom of page 2. Sure enough, a few days later, a single down vote appeared on it, along with the one above.
I think this individual perhaps needs a course of therapy.
Yes. I've taken to commenting mostly using Aversus Cowardus as certain people here hover haranguing 'n hating. Truly, the reaction to AC posts are much 'cleaner' than for "people who have taken stances adverse to the genius class." Somebodys've got a list and they're checking it several times per hour.
You're assuming you can track down the owners/operators of the website in question and that the servers are located in the EU.
If this is some dodgy site, hosted in some Russian bit barn good luck getting them to even acknowledge the contact. In that case, getting Google and co to stop linking to it is the best you can achieve.
Another google related snippet for you, a recent change to the crappy consent used by the hundreds of companies in IAB prostituting your personal data for profit.
Necessary cookies, ones you __can't block__ by their "consent" mechanism, they're essential for the IAB.
This is a __non__ ecommerce site, just electronics "news", you can't buy anything or defraud them unless you think opting out of receiving adverts is fraud.
Ensure security, prevent fraud, and debug
Your data can be used to monitor for and prevent fraudulent activity, and ensure systems and processes work properly and securely.
Technically deliver adds or content
Your device can receive and send information that allows you to see and interact with ads and content.
Link different devices
Different devices can be determined as belonging to you or your household in support of one or more of purposes.
Receive and use automatically - sent device characteristics for identification
Your device might be distinguished from other devices based on information it automatically sends, such as IP address or browser type.
The use precise geolocation data option was by default disabled, however the first thing the site did was make a connection to gelocation.onetrust.com
google are parasites.
I think I'll buy a boat with a long anchor chain and drag it through the sea bed off Bude. Of course I'll be displaying a consent banner with geolocation opt-outs for companies with under sea cables.
Trying to use the Right To Be Forgotten to erase the more unpalatable things one is responsible for.
I think it is nice to see that RTBF is not for crooks or incompetent idiots to cover up their actions, even if their actions were not intentional.
I'm sorry, if you are responsible for the finances of any organization, even a charity, and you let million go to waste, I don't see that you have the right to cover that up.
This case appears to be about where the line between 'right to be forgotten' and plain censorship lies. Wouldn't we all want for certain things to just vanish from the internet? Quite a few governments seem to think that this is a splendid idea, ensuring that nothing negative about them can ever appear on the part of the internet which they control.
They'll also happily apply RTBF on certain doubleplusungood citizens, of course.
As mentioned earlier in the comments, RTBF can have good reasons, like wiping out revenge porn and the like. Yet should RTBF be used to wipe away one's sordid past?
I don't think we have seen the last of RTBF cases in court yet.
This is not censorship as the articles are not removed from the internet.
It's just that Google doesn't have the automatic right to store personal information without consent about someone in a publicly searchable database without that person having a right to have that personal information removed.
If someone wants an article removed from the web (i.e. censorship) the RTBF is not going to help. It depends on the country but most developed countries have protections on journalism in place. You can get a court to order a publication to print a correction, perhaps even to remove the article, but the RTBF (or Google) are not going to help you in those cases. You're going to need libel laws or some such.
It's partially a response to progress. Thirty years ago your public bankruptcy may have been printed on page 35 of a local newspaper, the next day that newspaper would have been used to wrap fish in. If someone wanted to find that listing about you they'd have to go to a newspaper archive and trawl through years of bankruptcy notices to see if you happened to show up in them.
Nowadays a bankruptcy listing (or cyber bullying) may appear in a tiny corner of the internet where few people go, the Google bot does go there. And Google lists it in perpetuity. Someone who Googles your name can easily find that bankruptcy from fifteen years ago.
Essentially it's privacy law catching up to modern times.
"This is not censorship as the articles are not removed from the internet."
As mentioned elsewhere, it's a fine line. The content is not removed, it's just not searchable, which, given the size of the modern Internet, means it may as well not exist. What information do we allow to fall down the memory hole, and why?
There is a fine line on the right to be forgotten which needs to be balanced. If you were arrested for smoking pot in your youth and its now 10 years later, yet the first results on Google for your name are still details on that arrest I would argue that should be removed from the search results. As it could be causing them to not be able to get a job if prospective employers do a Google search.
But I don't think that someone should be able to use it to avoid scrutiny such as rich businessmen and politicians wanting to remove stories which might not be favourable for themselves but still of public importance.
"But with increasing numbers of jobs doing vetting, those convictions will still show up, just later in a different step."
In the UK at least, unless you are a job where enhanced vetting is required (and not if you just feel like it) spent conditions are not disclosed. Or at least that's my understanding.
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