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back to article Google told to delete people from search results

The Spanish government has ordered Google to delete information about 90 individuals from its search engine indexes, according to media reports. Spain said it believes that the individuals have a right to be forgotten, but Google has said that requiring search engines to ignore some information would negatively impinge on free …

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"a profound chilling effect"

Of course, Google, Facebook, Apple et al would know nothing about that sort of thing!

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Doesn't the blame lie not with Google,

but with the agency publishing the information?

Way to shift the blame, Spain.

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Boffin

Not really true.

Publishing this information is actually a good thing.

The only problem is that the newspaper should have put up a flag so that Google's web crawlers don't traverse the site or pages. (Sorry I forget the name of the file and I want to say robots.txt)

Unless of course Google is ignoring these and scarfing the pages anyways which would then be Google's fault.

Is there any proof of that?

If not, then its the publisher's own fault.

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a

all they have it do is put an tag on the page that makes google ignore the site (its for the bots to read when the spider bot sees it will not scan the page) its there own fault

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Doesn't the blame lie not with Google,

The whole point of those official gazettes (plural as there are very many of them in Spain) is precisely to publish certain kinds of information which are deemed to be in the public interest. That will, from time to time, include individuals names and other personal information.

It's a two-edged sword, and there are compelling arguments for both sides of the debate.

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Not easy to decide. . .

In spite of Google's loathsomeness and self-serving policies, this seems to be a clash between two important principles. I don't know about anyone else, but I am not at all on whose side I want to be on this issue. I suppose that I will just have to wait to see the actual laws that the EU proposes (with the understanding that I am in the USA.)

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Responsibility lies with the publisher surely?

They should ask the site hosting the content to remove it, or to implement suitable robots rules to prevent Google from indexing.

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What's to stop them

using robots.txt ?

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Anonymous Coward

What's to stop ...

... google indexing some other site that has crawled the original spanish site in ignorance (intentional or otherwise) of robots.txt?

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Re: What's to stop

"some other site that has crawled"

Or, indeed, might crawl at some arbitrary point in future and might republish in summary or in translated form. Clearly Google's core algorithms need to be updated to include some form of AI so that this information remains excluded forever.

Or you could just honour robots.txt and ignore anyone who doesn't bother to use it.

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Then you go after the site that broke the rules, not google

Then you go after the site that broke the rules, not google

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Facepalm

let me get this straight.

the government publish the data on their site, google index that data.... people complain to google and demand that _google_ should forget them?...... what about the government website, doesn't it matter?

any way, what I find surprising is that someone at the government have made such a large website, then decided that changing the law is a lot easier then putting a text file on the site asking google not to index them!

by the way, how far do we want to go with "people have the right to be forgotten." I understand that we might want google to forget what we searched for, what websites we visited, what did we buy/sale and what we have uploaded to the internet. But what about convected criminals? do we want the internet to forget about them right away? or should there be a set time after which the internet can forget about? What about researchers who research such criminals, would they get their own _un-index-able_ site that they need to subscribe to?

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Robots.txt

"Spanish law forces the information to be included in the official gazette, Jesús Rubi, deputy director of the Spanish DPA said, according to the report.

“The law obliges us to put this info in the gazette. But I am sure that if the law was written today, lawmakers would say 'OK, publish this, but it should not be accessible by a search engine',” Rubi said."

So, er, add the gazette to robots.txt? Although granted that would only protect the information from the reputable search spiders.

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Even worse ...

"Hey, take that bit about me out of your index, Google!"

"Gladly! Please provide proof that the entry is, in fact, about you."

"Umm ... I have a utility bill from 1998 with that address on it, will that do?"

"Ummm ... no."

In addition to the above-mentioned serious issue with any plan to remove specific info from a search index ... the simple fact that the info is online in the first place says "FIND ME!!" Spain put that info online TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO BE FOUND EASILY (otherwise they would have just kept the paper version.) Keeping Google from spidering the info just means that it's not AS easy to find ... it's still there, it's still accessible to anyone who wants to find it, it's still PUBLIC INFORMATION.

Whenever government types start bleating about what they are going to force the Internet to do, start looking around for a comfy seat and a large box of popcorn. It's going to get crazier and less rational before it gets better.

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So more rights for a criminal, do not they have enough already

So we are talking about a criminal, may be in the past, but she was a criminal, wanting the right for crimes to be forgotten. Should we then give the right for rapists crimes to be forgotten, paedophiles. Sorry but if you commit a crime then there is punishment and one of those punishments is that employers can find out about it, and with the age of the internet that does not necessary means a expensive criminal record check.

There should not be a right to be forgotten for criminal, what ever there crime was, what ever the age they committed it.

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Big Brother

Re: So more rights for a criminal, do not they have enough already

as I wrote on an early post, how far do we want take "right to be forgotten". In this case the argument can be, if the person have done the punishment, aren't we punishing the person again by not allowing them to go back into society?

for example, the kids and teenagers taking part of the current riot in the UK. Years from now, do we really want collages and universities to tell them "you toke part of the riot in 2011, we can't accept you here". What about jobs? do we really want these same teenagers to remain jobless -and therefore more prone to start another riot- years from now?

for how long should we keep those criminal records to be accessible by the public? and when should those records be locked and only allow researchers to have access to them?

yes, we do want to be forgotten, we want our browsing history to be forgotten, our purchase history to be forgotten and our ill advices posts, pictures and videos to be forgotten. But should the rule be extended to remove news articles that covered a certain event? What about criminal records?

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Sad...

It must be nice to have such a perfect life and having never ever done anything you might be ashamed of. It must be nice to never have wanted to find a new lease of life, change your ways, separate yourself from bad people or abusive ex-friends. It must be so lovely to never be sorry or forgiven for your wrongs, despite whatever debt to society you have paid.

It must also be nice to have such faith in what is written and posted on the internet. Tell me, if I put up a website telling everyone you're a paedophile and Google indexes it and never deletes it, would you be happy to have your life ruined by a lie?

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FAIL

Sigh

There's nothing stating that she committed a crime in the first place.

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Coat

Title

I don't know if I'd want to go to a university that told me "I toke part in a riot"

Mine's the one with the fake internet degree in the pocket

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Joke

Don't worry...........

Looks like the poster of the comment only went to a "collage" anyway!

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WTF?

Re: So more rights for a criminal...

David 164,

Yes, because all crimes are completely equal and deserve to be treated in exactly the same way. In that view shoplifting as a kid, littering, or J-walking is equivalent to armed robbery, murder, etc.

Ever get a speeding ticket? If so, then by the logic you believe we should adhere to you're a criminal and we should NEVER forget that.

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@David 164

Can't read very well, can we?

"90 complaints, including _victim_ of domestic violence"

Hmmmm, the English language is sooo challenging.

Anyway, tough-on-crime advocates, especially in a context of falling overall crime rates, are usually just blowhards. Unless they have had direct exposure to crime in which case, well I can see their point at a personal level, but it doesn't mean it makes for good policy. High imprisonment rates do not a safe country make. I might support them if they did, but they don't.

Far as the robots.txt idea goes, I hope they've already done that before dragging this to court. My guess is that they have but that's not enough for whatever reason.

If the law tells them they need to publish it, fine. But does the law also go into the detail that they need to publish it online? Why, if they want it forgotten?

Maybe they need to clean up their act first.

Are they requesting that _those_ gazette pages do not get returned in a search? Or are they requesting that "Mrs. Elena Villanova + abuse" never gets returned from any search result, regardless of the location of the indexed page? Enforcing amnesia on the net isn't just a free speech issue, it may be technically a big old mess.

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@Jean-Luc

From the article:

"while one middle-aged woman was able to find information about her arrest as a student through the search engine"

Now who can't read?

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FAIL

@Now who can't read?

You.

"information about her _arrest_ as a student"

You do know the differences between suspected, arrested, indicted/charged and convicted, dontcha?

Not claiming the other 88 were nice people, or even that she was not ultimately convicted. But you've still demonstrated a singular lack of clue by your choice of example.

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Easy answer...

Criminal records can be made available, that's fine. What is a problem is search engines indexing those criminal records and pumping them out across the internet to anyone searching for something mildly related to criminal records. Such 'accidental' results will cause more people to casually invade the privacy of any individual who has ever done anything wrong anonymously and then spread whatever bull**it they want.

News articles require a certain amount of evidence and sources for their information. Internet-posted data does not. On top of that, there is nothing wrong with looking up criminal records for a valid reason, and they should be available on a specific site, but they shouldn't be universally anonymously accessible - imagine being down the pub and you meet a new potential date, but then they suddenly jump up and avoid you for a mistake you made 5 years ago and are sorry for - and they shouldn't be effectively thrust out into the world based on any old search result.

What's wrong with having one simple result that links you to the records bureau that says 'Look up criminal records'? Why should search engines be able to index all of any other organisation's results and push them out? Where is the culpability when a search engine pushes out lies to the whole world due to indexing a load of bull**it about someone? Finally - what happens when you have lies and truth out on web sites and the search engine indexes both and then presents the conflicting information as equal facts to the world?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm confused....

In the current situation data is either public or private. If it is private and made public then there are already processes for redress. Albeit unwieldy and slow in many cases.

Information is aggregated from data and sometimes bringing different data together can result in difficulty for data subjects.

The speed and ease of bringing public data together these days and the capability to search public data that was hitherto a PIA to get to often causes embarrassment and may have legal consequences.

The often irresponsible and voracious appetite of search/social media companies is compounding problems and just because a search/social media company can (through wealth and technology) acquire the data doesn't mean it is a 'good thing' overall. People all to often don't help themselves with their conduct...

People, Governments and Companies need to jointly wake up or the only folks who will benefit in the short term will be lawyers and that will be to the true detriment of free speech - IMHO.

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ROBOTS.TXT

“The law obliges us to put this info in the gazette. But I am sure that if the law was written today, lawmakers would say 'OK, publish this, but it should not be accessible by a search engine',” Rubi said.

In which can Spain needs to legislate to change their law or if you don't want Google to index parts of the gazette then add them to a robots.txt file as thats what they are for

If we start to get to a point were individuals can get information about them removed from Googles index whats to stop celebs using the same laws to get stories about themselves that paint them in a negative light removed. Eg Hugh Grant and the hooker, Kate Moss and cocaine etc.

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umm... maybe I'm being a bit thick here...

but have they never heard of robots.txt?

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WTF?

What!!!!

'OK, publish this, but it should not be accessible by a search engine',

robots.txt.

FFS

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Meh

And then there's the wayback machine...

in case your information is deleted from current web sites. Currently does not support word searches, but easy enough to trace personal information if you know which sites to search.

It is a current fact that any personal information published onto the web is in the public domain and very persistant and widely distributed. I can't see that changing anytime soon, regardless of legislation. Maybe they can enforce something when they have finished locking up the hundreds of millions of people currently breaking the EU cookie law.

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So more rights for a criminal, do not they have enough already

So we are talking about a criminal, may be in the past, but she was a criminal, wanting the right for crimes to be forgotten. Should we then give the right for rapists crimes to be forgotten, paedophiles. Sorry but if you commit a crime then there is punishment and one of those punishments is that employers and anyone else can find out about it, and with the age of the internet that does not necessary means a expensive criminal record check.

There should not be a right to be forgotten for criminal, what ever there crime was, what ever the age they committed it, there must always be a record of it.

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RE So more rights for a criminal, do not they have enough alread

You better check the Law in Blighty mate.

Crimes get 'spent' after a certain time, I think the length of time depends on the crime, after which you don't have to declare them on employment checks or anywhere else.

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Almost anywhere else

"Crimes get 'spent' after a certain time, I think the length of time depends on the crime, after which you don't have to declare them on employment checks or anywhere else."

I have filled in forms where you have to declare spent convictions. Very hush hush...

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WTF?

Oh balls

Surely it's up to the sites operators to include an appropriate robots.txt on their gazette site ?

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FAIL

robots.txt anyone?

i mean FFS are govt web designers across the world dumbasses?

just sort your robots.txt to disallow indexing... it's NOT HARD!!!!

it's not google's fault these people are thick as fully set concrete!

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Are govt web designers across the world dumbasses?

Yes.

Next question please.

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Big Brother

fools and the data are easy parted.

Although I can understand why a victim of domestic abuse (or any crime) would wish for her address to remain private and it should be, but the fact remains that if the details are included on a public document that anyone can read then I cant see a issue in indexing that document.

maybe the law should be changed in what is included in the document.....

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Unhappy

Privacy for people <> privacy for organisations

The problem with privacy laws is that they are never drawn tightly enough. Big Business and Big Government wants to be able to hide from scrutiny, so any attempt to provide privacy for individuals gets hijacked through the corporate-entity-is-a-person route into allowing such organisations to cite privacy laws in order to conceal wrongdoing or sharp/deceitful practices.

This means that those who have a genuine need for privacy (victims of criminality, for example) must suffer the consequences of insufficient privacy to protect the rest of us from the machinations of Big Stuff.

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Headmaster

Exactly so.

"Google said preventing some data being accessed through search engines "would have a profound chilling effect on free expression without protecting people’s privacy,” according to the report.

Both the right to a private life and the right to freedom of expression are guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights."

Let me paraphrase: Google said ... would have a profound chilling effect on free expression <i>of Google, Inc. as a Corporate Person under American Law</i> without protecting <i>Human</i> people’s privacy <i>under the , European Convention on Human Rights.</i>

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Anonymous Coward

The BOE site already has a robots.txt

Before 200 comments say the same thing again, I must point that the BOE site already have a robots.txt. The problem is that some spiders (mostly shaddy pages) index it anyway and then Google index these sites.

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Wrong target

In that case they should be chasing these other sites. If it were not appearing there then google would not index it.

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Spider traps aint hard....

stick a link right at the beginning of your page thats hidden to a human user, tell bots to ignore this link in robots.txt, any IP address that follows that link gets banned...

jobs a good un...

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Go

Yes!

This is excellent. I support any news that a private individual may keep unsolicited, incorrect and/or just downright private information about themselves from being used by any company, without permission, to make money for themselves.

Everyone should have the right to not having information about them pumped out to the world without their permission. If you're a 'celeb' then you agree to the publicity when you get yourself published, if you're a private individual you should have a right to order companies not to use you.

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You might consider your past war crimes to be a private matter

For example, you might consider your past war crimes to be a private matter, but I don't.

Crimes involve the criminal, the victim, and society.

The victim should never loose the right to speak and be heard about their life and their personal experiences.

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Hai guise

Nobody mentioned it in the comments yet, but they could add a robots.txt?

Only joking, and it's irrelevant anyway. Unlike every other commentard here, I actually read the article, and it turns out it isn't the *site* asking Google to delist stuff, it's the people themselves.

See, the clue is the sentence "90 individuals all lodged formal complaints". Those individuals probably don't have permissions to modify the site's robots.txt file now, do they?

See how easy this stuff is if you actually read the article before commenting?

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I was wondering who kept downvoting all the robots.txt suggestions.

If your government is publishing data on the web that you'd rather they didn't publish, this is a matter between you and your government, not you and Google.

OK, complain to Google, as they might move more swiftly than the government (particularly if the information is putting you in danger), but it's still the government at fault, not Google.

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Anonymous Coward

Spain's DPAct is different

It's a bit more complicated than private and public information. Under Spanish rules (and at a technical level, probably other European countries Data Protection rules - eg Germany and Switzerland), whether the data is public or private is not relevant. The question is whether an organisation is permitted to retain information about a person in their files, and then the individual's right to access, rectify, cancel or oppose information that the organisation holds about them.

Whether the information is private or public is irrelevant - for instance if you operate a security camera collecting images of people, you need to be registered in Spain and an individual would be able to request that information collected with his/her image is removed from the video record.

Freedom of the press excepted, the principle is asking: 'under what conditions should a company be able to hold records of any type about an individual?' with the principle being that an organisation, in general, should not have private data unless it has an explicit need and use of that data, a level of consent from the person, and the data the organisation does hold should be the minimum necessary for the defined process.

As a result Spain runs into legalities about things like retaining information for credit checks and credit histories, and even 'simple' things like criminal records. You are not allowed to do a data merge without the subject's consent for instance.

As Google is not the press, the court would have to clarify why and when Google would be allowed to retain personal information even without the person's consent, even where that information exists in another database or format elsewhere - in other words what right does Google have to have that information and to display it to other people?

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Excuse me, I get my news from Google

Excuse me, I get my news from Google. Functionally Google is a news agency and google is as much a part of the press as the NY Times and London Times.

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Bull

"Excuse me, I get my news from Google. Functionally Google is a news agency and google is as much a part of the press as the NY Times and London Times."

Bullcrap. I get my news from the local paper shop but that doesn't make it part of the press.

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