back to article When we said don't link to the article, Google, we meant DON'T LINK TO THE ARTICLE!

A German court has given Google a hearty slap over its grudging response to "right to be forgotten" laws, telling it that not linking to information means exactly that: not linking to information. The Higher Regional Court of Munich issued an injunction [PDF] against the search engine company, telling it not to forward …

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Holmes

This will be tough...

On the one hand, Reg commentards hate Google. On the other hand, they hate censorship. Which will win? (I'm going with hatred of Google winning.)

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Re: This will be tough...

I'll see your hydrogen and raise you a deuterium

:-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be tough...

I also hate the Yankee definition of free speech, which includes lobbying (literal corruption), and adverting (literal propaganda).

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Re: This will be tough...

"On the one hand, Reg commentards hate Google."

Don't speak for me thanks, I don't hate Google.

I don't think this is censorship either, this is just making sure a powerful company in a powerful position to help make or break the reputation of people (or indeed companies) has links to facts that are correct. If information is blatantly factually wrong then it's wrong and needs to be removed, that's not censorship it's called being responsible.

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FAIL

Re: This will be tough...

Why if only you weren't talking out your backside you'd know that US law has long recognised the difference between lobbying (political speech) and advertising (commercial speech) and that the two are treated completely differently.

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Re: This will be tough...

@GrumpyKiwi

I think he was referring to political lobbying in the form of the professional's who lobby politicians on behalf of companies etc & make large financial donations in order to sway siad politicians to promote their cause in cabinet/senate/house of reps/focus group/whatever.

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Re: This will be tough...

They also hate fake news... Therefore hate of Google + hate of fake news against hate of censorship - 2 to 1 in favour?

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Re: This will be tough...

Maybe the US should consider the following

Frank Herbert wrote God Emperor of Dune:

There are two sins punishable by death in my Universe, corruption by a functionary and attempting to corrupt a functionary.

(paraphrased, I can't find the original quote off hand)

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Re: This will be tough...

Except this isn't censorship. It's a case of the Google algorithm mistakenly associating a company with fraud, and when being told to remove the association they replaced it with a workaround that tells people the company wanted to hide it.

Removing false, or at best misleading, information is not censorship.

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Re: This will be tough...

> Except this isn't censorship.

Yes it is. Read the article.

> It's a case of the Google algorithm mistakenly associating a company with fraud

It's a case of the Google algorithm correctly associating a company with fraud (a slightly-different kind of fraud - but that's splitting hairs).

Maybe Google should replace the link with an item saying "Censored under German law - see records of court case <link>" instead.

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Re: I don't think this is censorship either

The trouble is with deciding what is actually factual.

There will be 7 billion different opinions on what is fact and what is relevant and wether the difference between being guilty of one type of fraud and another type of fraud is reason enough to have the information censored.

After all, it is about somebody who is willing to commit any kind of fraud people need to be able to protect themselves from. Burn that miserable corporation.

Corporations are the natural enemies of actual humans - false entities with better rights than actual persons. A fraud to begin with, if I ever saw one.

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Re: This will be tough...

Reading comprehension?

That company IS indeed guilty of fraud - just a different type of fraud.

So instead of blocking, they should just correct the notice of what type of fraud they commited.

Any corporation committing fraud should be dissolved. That would teach corporate foam whippers to treat real people with the utmost respect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be tough...

On the one hand, Reg commentards hate Google. On the other hand, they hate censorship. Which will win? (I'm going with hatred of Google winning.)

Not really, this one is easy. Google was told to do x, but tried to be cute about it because Google sees itself as above any pesky things like laws, the fact that it had been formally told by a court stands above any ideas that Google has itself - it is the law. I hope they get fined to a point where it actually hurts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be tough...

> It's a case of the Google algorithm mistakenly associating a company with fraud

It's a case of the Google algorithm correctly associating a company with fraud (a slightly-different kind of fraud - but that's splitting hairs).

Maybe Google should replace the link with an item saying "Censored under German law - see records of court case <link>" instead.

It is actually irrelevant at this point what Google thinks or if you agree with the verdict or not: it has been told to take action by a court and tried to evade this. It's a case of Google being told what to do by a court (read: after a proper, full legal process) and trying their best to negate the judgement, and I personally hope this has expensive consequences for them.

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Re: This will be tough...

"That company IS indeed guilty of fraud - just a different type of fraud."

This article only indicated they were being investigated for investment fraud, not that they had been found guilty. Maybe there is more information somewhere else that shows they were found guilty, but it isn't here.

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Re: This will be tough...

@N13L5

"Reading comprehension?

That company IS indeed guilty of fraud - just a different type of fraud."

You have the cheek to comment on someone else's reading comprehension, when you seem to have failed miserably yourself.

The report nowhere states they are guilty of fraud, it states they are under investigation for fraud.

Guilty until proven innocent and all that.

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Re: This will be tough...

"If information is blatantly factually wrong then it's wrong and needs to be removed, that's not censorship it's called being responsible."

Why is it necessary to redefine words? It absolutely IS censorship.

censorship is often viewed negatively. you view this action as acceptable, thus you want to say it isn't censorship. Add "acceptable" if you want, but realize you are redefining censorship if you say it isn't.

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Re: This will be tough...

Yes but only told in Germany (Munich). It's a bigger world now.

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Re: This will be tough...

Removing false, or at best misleading, information is not censorship.

No, but compelling someone else to remove it - is precisely what censorship is.

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Re: This will be tough...

A search engine should be a search engine. As in, indexing information, searching for things in it, and then ranking the results based on relevant criteria. Not act as an arbiter of truth.

Besides - linking to the takedown notice should be perfectly fine even if you think Google/Courts determining truth is desirable. It lets the searcher know that the information at the links is disputed so he/she/it can make up his/her/its mind about the issue.

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Re: This will be tough...

Google has the power to change the world but removing search results (for realsies) is to difficult....

To me this means Google does not want to play by the rules, laws are seen as obstacles to be taken, not a legal framework you abide to. American Gods does a fine job depicting the whiny little techno kids, if only I had a hammer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be tough...

"... it has been told to take action by a court and tried to evade this. It's a case of Google being told what to do by a court (read: after a proper, full legal process) and trying their best to negate the judgement, and I personally hope this has expensive consequences for them."

Not quite it was requested to remove a link by the company itself filling in an online form. There was no court order to remove the link. There is just a general "right to be forgotten" ruling from the European Courts.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will be tough...

@patrickstar

I'm with you when you say "A search engine should be a search engine", but it all gets a bit sticky when you get to "ranking the results based on relevant criteria". Relevant to who: a censor or an activist? If you choose either, none or even both you are acting as an arbiter of truth.

I honestly can't decide if linking to takedown information is good or bad, and I'm pretty sure that something I consider good would be viewed by others as bad and vice versa,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't think this is censorship either

@NI3L5

Corporations are not the natural enemies of actual people.

A corporation is a company and companies exist to organize and achieve what people can't achieve alone or agree to achieve as a cooperative.

Most people value possessions such as their mobile phone. Could you imagine such things being created in a world without companies? Cooperative funding perhaps? Kickstarter etc. has its place but it would be a stretch to raise $7 billion to build FAB42 and kickstarter only exists by standing on the shoulders of the corporations that built the infrastructure it relies on.

Corporations are not the natural enemies of actual humans: they are why you are sitting reading this in relative comfort rather than struggling to exist and having a sub 40 year life expectancy without reliable food distribution, energy or medication.

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Re: This will be tough...

"There is just a general "right to be forgotten" ruling from the European Courts."

Which specifically was for INDIVIDUALS, not companies.

The day you let a company use right to be forgotten legislation, you have a major problem on your hands.

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Re: This will be tough...

Maybe. But my money is on he's just an idiot.

Lobbying is done by people representing all kinds of views and interests. Greenpeace, unions, corporations, lawyers - everyone and everything.

The here problem appears to be a (deliberate?) misunderstanding of the word "corporation". Corporation means any group of people acting in concert. So yes, that covers the likes of Greenpeace. And General Electric. And Planned Parenthood. And the NRA. And the New York Times. Because it is recognised that people working together are stronger than any one individual.

But noooo. Instead we get the wet dream "If only we could ban lobbying. Then only my favourite groups would be allowed to exert any political pressure".

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Re: This will be tough...Except this isn't censorship.

The company wanted to polish their tarnished image. People could read what Google originally linked to and decide what they think about the company. Hiding the info means people don't have that choice. Exposing that the company guilty of fraud tried to hide it is bad for that company and rightly so.

Already the WayBackMachine is showing that the Towering Inferno cladding company have taken evidence off their website. The right to be forgotten also means that Google and WayBackMachine would need to scrub their data of this evidence too.

Don't worry if you've invested in that company because now the police know the company are deleting evidence they will allow them extra time before they raid.

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Re: I don't think this is censorship either

"The trouble is with deciding what is actually factual."

Only one opinion matters, Google should ask the BBC what they would do.

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Re: This will be tough...

"This article only indicated they were being investigated for investment fraud, not that they had been found guilty." - so how would anyone know that if Google hid the info like they were told?

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Re: This will be tough...

"A search engine should be a search engine. As in, indexing information, searching for things in it, and then ranking the results based on relevant criteria. Not act as an arbiter of truth."

But in this case we are talking Google, who inserts ads into the search results, charges for things like Ad Words, and other things that involve them in the search results. And I think that's where things get a bit ugly for them here.

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Facepalm

Ooh, goody, the Streisand effect.

Anyone know the name of the company concerned? (on second thoughts, no, let's avoid getting El Reg into similar trouble)

But really, the complainant does seem to be splitting hairs. "We're not accused of criminal fraud, we're accused of investment fraud! Totally different type of fraud! You can confidently invest with the trusted company of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe!"

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Re: Ooh, goody, the Streisand effect.

>But really, the complainant does seem to be splitting hairs. "We're not accused of criminal fraud, we're accused of investment fraud! Totally different type of fraud!

You demonstrate the problem. There's no evidence (here) that the company was accused of any kind of fraud. They might well have been the target of investment fraud. Yet you have jumped to a conclusion, based solely on the juxtaposition of a few words in a Google result.

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Re: Ooh, goody, the Streisand effect.

Represented by Sue,Grabbit&Run.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ooh, goody, the Streisand effect.

I used my google/duckduckgo kungfu and came up with .... fairvesta group AG... NOW, we have a Streisand effect!

I side with Google, as long as you make clear that a court has issued a take-down notice, that the information is incorrect, I think it should be kept "somewhere" ... It is called transparency. Suppressing information like this will fuel the conspirationists. Nothing is worse than rumour, right?

This post might get rejected, so up- or downvote as quickly as possible ;-), as you see fit. I believe in freedom of speech and transparency.

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If online informtion is outdated, it's incumbant on the *author* of the *online* *information* to update it, not for a search engine to not find it.

If you don't want online information to be found, DON'T PUT IT ONLINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sheesh. It's not that hard to understand.

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What if it's about you but you didn't write it or publish it? I think you've missed the point.

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Anonymous Coward

"What if it's about you but you didn't write it or publish it?"

Then you go after the person who did, not the search engine that's telling you where it is?

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Yeas, because clearly someone posting false facts about you is in the least bit interested in helping you. Or is even possible to be found. Or is even still alive.

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Boffin

Streisand.

That is all

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Headmaster

"false facts"? arrrggh.. You can't say that!

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Anonymous Coward

Ah yes, but what if..

@J.G.Harston

What happens when someone on the Internet drags up a story about you, Mr Harston, hanging about outside public toilets taking photographs. I know it was 18 years ago, but there's a lot of interest in historic activities these days.

Miles from your home in Whitby, two different public toilets in one day. I have hobbies too but that's just going too far, you must have been up to no good, we all know 2 and 2 makes 5.

What were you thinking, are some of the individuals photographed there look like they could be minors? Is photographing a cottage later in the day called cottaging?

People in glass houses....

This is all true, but a completely false image of a normal register commentard.

J.G.Harston comments on here about BBC computers, is obviously an oldster with main frame experience, didn't look that hard at posts to be honest.

Probably of mdfs.net as the content matches his profile here. Likes photography.

Therfore JGHarston from http://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/29536

Home grid reference: NZ9011 (probably old) Whitby

Taking pictures of public toilets in Shefield

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1013650

http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1013643

All innocent, but if I didn't like people who work for Cerco or Crapita or people related to the level of software used in the NHS, I might just make something up for the fun of it.

Then, you might want that to be removed, but I'm anonymous.... and will pop this story up all over the place in numerous forums with the story being embellished as I go. Not so clear now is it?

No hurt or harm intended by this post, if you want me to delete it, just ask in the thread or a mod will remove it from the Internet for you.

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WTF?

fraud without deception?

"but rather investment fraud. With the latter, there is no requirement for damage to have been done or any form of corporate deception."

Eh? Fraud, by definition, IS deception. Perhaps something lost in translation?

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Re: fraud without deception?

I rather think translation might be a big part of the problem in this case.

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Not so easy...

While you have 'free speech' this isn't a case of it.

Suppose you are in NY and you open up a Fast Food joint called 'Bullet Burrito'. You've gone thru all of the legal filings, paperwork, established a brand, and a web site.

But suppose you find out that 10 years ago, there was another place in West Virginia that was also called Bullet Burrito and was shut down because of a case of food poisoning and not being up to code.

Clearly not you.

But if you go online and Google Bullet Burrito, voila, there's a news story talking about Bullet Burrito getting shut down because of not being up to code.

You go to Google and ask them to take down the link. While its a valid news story, its outdated and its causing you harm. People just see the link on the first page and assume its about you and doesn't see the date of the article or that the place was in a different state.

Who would be right?

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Re: Not so easy...

"Who would be right?"

Due dill?

I get your point but I would suggest you include a few searches on your new name before using it.

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Re: Not so easy...

No one can learn from history if it is erased bit by bit, labeling this bit mistaken and that bit misattributed. Some plumber named Bonaparte should not be able to claim his toilet fixing skills have been slandered and his business impeded by the phrase "that was his water loo".

The right to be forgotten *must* be very judiciously applied, or else no one will remember when we weren't at war with Europa.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not so easy...

Google, since it's about a different company, not yours. That's a very clear case.

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Re: Not so easy...

If you were in NY doing the search, Google would put the local Bullet Burrito first. If you were in West Virginia it would put that information first.

Bad example.

Still looking for a good example.

Expect this case was decided by some local judge who was convinced that the big bad google was being mean to some local company.

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Joke

Re: Not so easy...

Due dill?

I assume you mean "due diligence"?

"Due dill" is the term for when you ordered a burger but didn't get the pickle you were expecting.

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Re: Not so easy...

@ Notas Badoff

You need to get your facts straight! We are at war with Eastasia and always have been!

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