back to article British Lords: Euro 'right to be forgotten' ruling 'unreasonable and unworkable'

Peers sitting in the upper house of the British parliament have branded Europe’s court decision on killing links on search indexes – controversially dubbed the “right to be forgotten” ruling – “unworkable, unreasonable and wrong in principle”. The EU subcommittee on Home Affairs, Health and Education said in a report that the …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    This was always kind of obvious, no?

    Dear Google, that embarrassing post I made in 1995, I'd like to recall it please. Riiiight... tell me again why we should do that? Got a court order?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: This was always kind of obvious, no?

      "Riiiight... tell me again why we should do that? Got a court order?"

      Yes, there is a court order. That's the point!

      1. SundogUK

        Re: This was always kind of obvious, no?

        No there isn't. The courts only become involved if Google reject the application.

      2. jnffarrell1

        Re: This was always kind of obvious, no? National Court Order Needed

        CJEU without coordinating with 28 nations' court systems the threw a huge burden on those systems. Without understanding what it was doing, a court without law-clerks botched the word-smithing and chose to remain ignorant of technological constraints. Like an ignoramus playing with a guillotine the CJEU cut its hand off and put its own head in the guillotine. Still calling for Google's head the dolt in charge is about guillotine herself while shrieking 'off with their heads'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This was always kind of obvious, no? National Court Order Needed

          I think you're wrong. First of all the court is only changed with interpreting the law. They don't write the law so what you've said there looks a bit silly.

          Secondly just because Google have ridden rough shod across our rights doesn't mean someone shouldn't stand up and say they've got to stop.

          It's not that hard for them and once people start to realise that this isn't a right to be forgotten things will settle down. In either case I've got no sympathy because they've made a lot of money out of us when they must have known this was an issue. They just hoped they could apply enough pressure to get away with it.

  2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I'm shocked

    Our political masters seem to be trying to do something right, and in doing so they agree in principle with Google.

    This is unthinkable, I must be living some alternative reality.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: I'm shocked

      I'm shocked that you think they are doing something right, and not just parroting what their favourite Google lobbyist told them.

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: I'm shocked

        This is provably not true, and the evidence is winged flying pig behind my window and snowballs flying from large, hot and red crevice in the ground below.

  3. 's water music Silver badge

    have I got this right?

    They don't agree with what the CJEU didn't say?

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      What was the CJEU smoking

      The CJEU was a little vague in its ruling and its effect on the search world. It clearly implied that people have a right to be forgotten, yet in the same breath as saying that newspaper archives shouldn't be affected by this ruling, it have this judgement on a search link to a newspaper archive record.

      The CJEU was trying to achieve a sense of proportionality, but it should have really had the guts to say "Welcome to the modern world" and thrown the case out.

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: have I got this right?

      “Anyone anywhere in the world now has information at the touch of a button, and that includes detailed personal information about people in all countries of the globe.”

      And they don't see this as a major problem and why the call for the RTBF was brought up in the first place?

      The government officials argued that the search index ruling was impossible to enforce for smaller search engines that don’t have the resources of an ad behemoth like Google to process thousands of takedown requests.

      You know what, the regulations in my industry are burdensome as well, for a small company. Does that mean we can simply forget all those pesky hygene and health and safety things, we just don't have the resources to cope with them! Nope? Thought not.

      “It is wrong in principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria, and we heard from witnesses how uncomfortable they are with the idea of a commercial company sitting in judgment on issues like that,”

      Again, bending the truth. Nobody is asking the search engines to delete anything! According to this ruling, they should not be deleting anything! What they should be doing, if the request is valid, is removing the results in a keyword search that includes the applicants name. If they use a different set of keywords, that don't include the applicants name, then the link to the article will still be returned.

      For example, if I had been arrested for murder and released without charge, but the first thing that turned up when searching for my name 10 years later was the article on my arrest, then I could ask for searches including "big_D" to not return that article, as I was never charged or sentenced. Therefore, searching for "big_D" wouldn't return the link. Searching for the name of the victim or murder in general would still return the link, but it would probably be buried way down the list.

      So, somebody researching the murder would still find out that I was arrested during the investigation, but that I was never charged. Somebody searching for my name directly would not find out this information, which is irrelevant to my current standing.

      And all because Google is kicking its toys out of the pram.

      1. Alpha Tony

        Re: have I got this right?

        So... Say we live in the same town where you had been arrested for murder and released without charge and any time anyone mentions your name I say 'I know that big_D fella - He was arrested for murder'. Legally I am totally entitled to do that because I am not slandering you, I am just reporting the truth. Why should it be any different for Google?

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: have I got this right?

          Agreed, but look at it from the traditional press point of view. The press prints it, people read it and remember it or not. After a while, if I wasn't charged or prosecuted, then most people would start to forget, the newspapers would be recycled, used to wrap chips in or whatever.

          Later, anybody who was really interested in finding out the facts would then have to go to the paper archives and research the case and would probably come across the original article as part of the research into the murder. The information is still there, but as it is irrelevant information about me (E.g. I was one of a hundred people in a dragnet, 99 of whom were later set free), so it shouldn't be one of the first things that pops up when people search for big_D

          1. Alpha Tony

            Re: have I got this right?

            It shouldn't be the first thing that pops into my head every time someone mentions your name in a pub either, as I'm sure you are a fascinating and well-rounded individual and you almost certainly didn't do it anyway.

            The thing is though, it is the most interesting thing I know about you, so that is what immediately comes to mind when someone says your name. It's the same with Google, and while it might be nice for you were that not the case, I fail to see how they can possibly be legally compelled to censor their results to hide information that is in the public domain, for your comfort.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: have I got this right?

              It isn't about censoring.

              Say a prospective employer searches for you and all they find is that you were arrested on suspicion of murder?

              If you request the link to your name is removed, they won't see that. If somebody searches for the victim, they will still find the article where you were arrested. No censorship, you just actually have to use more generic terms to do with the case to find it, as opposed to your name.

        2. Spleen

          Re: have I got this right?

          @Alpha Tony: I am open to correction, but I believe that if you went around constantly saying "That big_D guy was arrested for murder", big_D would have a pretty good claim for defamation, as he could argue - and the courts would probably agree - that by repeating and emphasising that fact you were making a clear insinuation that he was guilty.

          Claiming that you were "just reporting the truth" would be sophistry, it's like going around telling everyone that "So-and-so has never denied beating his wife" when So-and-so has never been asked. If you are clearly trying to damage someone's reputation than the courts are going to see through it.

          1. Squander Two

            Re: have I got this right?

            > I believe that if you went around constantly saying "That big_D guy was arrested for murder", big_D would have a pretty good claim for defamation

            Exactly.

            I was once trained in the fine art of job interviewing, and one thing that was stressed to us very heavily was that, if someone has a big gaping hole in the timeline on their CV, we absolutely must not ask about it. The reason for this is that it could be prison time. If their conviction is considered spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, they are not obliged to declare it to employers, and employers, if they find out about it, are not allowed to hold it against them. If we ask about the gap in their CV and they either tell us they were in prison or they lie or avoid the question, then, if they then don't get the job, they have an extremely strong case for a tribunal against us, because, regardless of our actual reason for not hiring them, it's going to look pretty bloody obvious to everyone that it was the jail time. So far better, legally, to avoid finding out.

            If other companies, due to the law, are making efforts to avoid finding out certain things about people, why should Google ignore those same laws? Which is, after all, all the EU court judgement said.

            1. Vic

              Re: have I got this right?

              if someone has a big gaping hole in the timeline on their CV, we absolutely must not ask about it. The reason for this is that it could be prison time.

              That's interesting - I was advised not to have any gaping holes on my CV, because an interviewer would assume it was something like prison time, and that would be the end of that.

              I filled in the hole in my CV - which wasn't prison time, it was arse-around-spending-redundancy-money time - and things improved immediately.

              Of course, that didn't stop the inquisition I got from one interviewer who insisted on asking me *many* times about the time between University and the first entry on my CV. The answer was the the same each time - the agent hadn't sent him the back page on my CV. Oh how I wish I'd remembered the advice I'd been given always to carry a clean copy of the CV to interviews...

              Vic.

          2. Alpha Tony

            Re: have I got this right?

            You're changing the emphasis here. I didn't say that I was 'going around constantly saying "That big_D guy was arrested for murder"', I specifically said when people mentioned his/her name. Upon discussing an individual it is surely entirely natural to mention the most news-worthy thing that you know about them. Provided I stuck to the unembellished facts you wouldn't have a leg to stand on claiming defamation.

            As I implied in my later post, if I knew something more interesting about them then that would likely be my conversational gambit, but as I don't they are stuck with this. The same principle applies with Google.

            1. Squander Two

              Re: have I got this right?

              > Upon discussing an individual it is surely entirely natural to mention ...

              Whatever may or may not be natural, I think we can all agree that Google isn't, and there's no particular reason its search results should be regarded like a casual human conversation.

      2. Fluffy Bunny
        Angel

        Re: have I got this right?

        "If they use a different set of keywords, that don't include the applicants name, then the link to the article will still be returned."

        I don't think that's right. I think the ruling is that the applicant won't appear, no matter what the search criteria.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: have I got this right?

          He won't appear, but the article will and the search engine will probably not highlight the name.

  4. Lionel Baden

    I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

    I would of thought it better to force companies to remove said page(s) from crawlers would be much more effective, it doesn't single out a specific search engine.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

      You can't. That is the problem.

      For a private blog, you could probably argue that the article could be removed. for accredited press etc. they cannot take the article down (iit is public record). And the article should only ever be blocked when it is searched for using a specific person's name. All other combinations of search criteria relevant to the page should still return the link.

      1. Stuart 18

        Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

        Redaction redaction redaction: has no one heard of redaction. The originator of the digital article will remove and / or replace the person's name with a suitable marker. Google or search engine of choice and their huge database will detect this to change and modify the returns.

        You should always divert the source. It is the owner of the dog's responsibility to pick up the shit not the runner passing by; just because they smell it; becoming banned from talking about whose dog has the smelliest shit for the rest of their lives!!

        If you want to be forgotten Mr Mosley don't do kinky shit wearing a Nazi uniform. Can I posthumously apply for Hitler or Jimmy Saville's right to be forgotten? No? Sure - there's public interest but who decides that, eh? Big brother Google? Please have a listen to the 'Orwellian new speech' piece on Radio 4.

        THIS IS CENSORSHIP and modification of the past! If you've been cleared of a murder it should be your right to make google populate the advertising section with : "They didn't do it!" and construct the return order to the most favourable results. It is not their right to EDIT HISTORY though!

        1. JimC Silver badge

          Re: If you want to be forgotten / Nazi uniform

          A superb example, because IIRC he was not wearing a NAZI uniform, that was part of the stuff the newspaper made up...

      2. Vic

        Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

        [ Of removing pages from crawlers ... ]

        > You can't. That is the problem.

        You can. robots.txt will do it trivially.

        It would be a better use of the justice system to penalise crawlers that publish outdate information after specifically ignoring robots.txt. But that would be too easy...

        Vic.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

          I know about robots.txt. The problem is the page isn't delisted from the search engine, it is just not shown in results with the applicant's name.

          1. Vic

            Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

            The problem is the page isn't delisted from the search engine, it is just not shown in results with the applicant's name.

            Whatever you might be talking about now, it's different to what the OP suggested, and you declared impossible...

            Vic.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

              If the original article is public record, it should not be removed from the search engine. It therefore falls on the search engine to not return it, when the applicant's name is used in the search term.

              1. Vic

                Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

                If the original article is public record, it should not be removed from the search engine.

                That's your interpretation. It's not what the OP suggested.

                Vic.

                1. big_D Silver badge

                  Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

                  Which was my "can't", not that there is no way to remove the article from the original site, either by removing the article or putting it in robots.txt, but that as it is public record, it "can't" be removed from indexing.

                  1. This post has been deleted by its author

                    1. big_D Silver badge

                      Re: I cant understand why Google is in the firing line for this !

                      I'm trying to explain the way the ruling worked - the court told the complainant and the source website that the article could not be legally removed - so it is irrelevant, whether putting it in robots.txt or deleting the site is technically possible; legally it can't be done.

                      That is why it falls to the search engine to remove the result when the complainant's name is given in the search term.

                      If you search for house repossessions / auctions in the area, you should still be able to find the article, if Google have done their job properly.

  5. Ole Juul Silver badge

    Let's see where this goes

    Perhaps we'll get a "right to be remembered" ruling next. That really funny comment I made on el Reg 5 years ago? I think it should go higher in the Google rankings.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “We think there is a very strong argument that, in the new Regulation, search engines should not be classed as data controllers, and therefore not liable as ‘owners’ of the information they are linking to."

    Does this include sites like The Pirate Bay?

  7. Frank Zuiderduin

    The UK Whatsits?

    Exactly who cares in the rest of the world?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UK Whatsits?

      I think this may impact quite a bit of Europe - it certainly sets a precedent at the European level (not a legal one, but it may mean other countries will adopt the same view).

      Of course, if you're just questioning why a news site based in the UK is reporting on UK data matters, then I'm not sure what I can do to make it any clearer for you.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: The UK Whatsits?

      "Exactly who cares in the rest of the world?"

      So things that affect only one country shouldn't be talked about? And this is a UK website, by the way.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The UK Whatsits?

      Well all this blew up because a solicitor in Spain didn't want a bankruptcy to be found out about when people Google his name because it looks bad. Spain who?

      Which is now the first thing people will find out about when people Google his name or about the history of RTBF. Internationally. Forever.

  8. Barrie Shepherd

    More common sense than the other House

    +1 to the un-elected house.

    Not tarred with the need to garner votes or bend to influence from corporations and other world governments they have made a very common sense statement. Lets hope the lot at the other end of the corridor take heed.

    Lord Denning, and his friend on the Clapham Omnibus, would be impressed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More common sense than the other House

      this is sub-committee report to the Lords. The chamber as a whole _might_ take a different view.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: More common sense than the other House

      Except that they seem to have mixed up their facts and aren't actually talking about what the ruling actually said...

    3. Les Matthew

      Re: More common sense than the other House

      "bend to influence from corporations"

      Some reading for you.

      http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/standards-and-interests/register-of-lords-interests/

  9. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Lamp wicks! Buy my lamp wicks!

    Sigh. The whole point of computerisation is to remove processing tasks from humans and mechanise them. The government seems hell-bent on de-mechanising things as much as possible.

    Maybe this is the government's secret plan to increase employment, de-mechanise as much of the web as possible and force companies to employ humans to do it. Right, where's the job adverts at?

  10. Rol Silver badge

    so..

    If those linking to the data are to be let off the leash, then it will fall to the data providers to review what they hold?

    I can see many data sources considering removing everything that is older than, let's say two years, to ensure compliance, instead of the painstakingly expensive option of case by case.

    Ah, now it all becomes clear. Historic data will once again be back in the hands of the privileged few and therefore can be rewritten to suit without any oversight from the billion or so people who at the moment are invested in that data.

    1984 by the back door. "We were never at war with Max Mosley. He fought courageously against the Nazis in stockings and leather thigh boots"

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: so..

      The problem is, they shouldn't be removing the information at all.

      The search engines are being asked not to link under specific circumstances.

      Take the French Post-It Wars link. The article itself is still valid, of public interest and relevant. Therefore it cannot and should not be removed by the court - public record.

      I can't remember the name of the guy who wanted to be forgot, but if you type in his name + Paris Post-It Note War, you will not get the link. If you just type in Paris Post-It Note War, the link must still show up.

      The thinking is, the source information is still searchable, in general terms, but if you search using a specific person's name, who does not want to be remembered for an event (and that isn't in the public interest and the information is no longer relevant), then you won't find mention of that event.

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: so..

        @ big_D. You are of course right, but it's the smaller engines that are still linking which raises the spectre of another way to skin this cat.

        Perhaps, and I'm not trying to be contentious here, but perhaps we accept Google is the search God and that all other engines should be subservient to it.

        That is, other search providers crawl through Googles lists to display their twist on results and not go it independently. Therefore Google does the de-listing work and this censured list becomes the de-facto face of the internet.

        Or am I being totally naive, to trust Google not to take absolute advantage?

        Yes, I probably am.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: so..

          Maybe there should be a artbitur that goes through the requests and provides a list of names and the links that shouldn't be returned, which is then passed on to all search engines. That is the bit that doesn't really work at the moment, because most people just think about Google when they talk about search.

          Plus, if you actually know about others, then you have to submit a request with each search provider in turn and if one rejects, then you have to go back and argue that the others have complied.

          The EU brought in this measure, maybe they should provide the manpower to process the requests and provide the blacklist for all of the search engines.

      2. Barrie Shepherd

        Re: so..

        Equally (currently) you could just type his name into Google-dot-another country or just com.

  11. dan1980

    Here is the deal: either search engines are responsible for the results they return or they are not.

    It's should be that simple. Whatever you decided, you live by it. And that means that when the vice president of <insert giant movie conglomerate here> comes over for dinner at your country house and complains that illegal torrents of <insert comic-book-adaption/sequel/remake/rip-off here> are far too easy to local via an Internet search, you must tell him/her that implementing a regime for removing those search results is simply "unreasonable and unworkable".

    Remember, though, these are the same people who find it reasonable and workable to block entire IP ranges based little more than a 'please' from content providers.

    I am no fan of copyright infringement but I am a strong believer in the basic right that people have to their own privacy.

    It's not about (as @Neil Barnes said,) the right to make an old blog post disappear, but the right to get content that OTHER people have written about you de-indexed.

    Here's a theoretical scenario . . .

    Image that you were the subject of a particularly virulent blog posting where the poster was prosecuted for libel but the content was still available by search when your name is entered. Recruiters 'Google' your name routinely and don't necessarily stop to vet the information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      UnRing that Bell!

      "I am no fan of copyright infringement but I am a strong believer in the basic right that people have to their own privacy."

      Agreed, but when information is placed in plublic view, such as on the internet, it is by definition no longer private!

      Unringing of bells is not reasonable.

  12. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

    Surprised...

    ...given the rate at which the Lords and our MPs seem to be found with their penis' accidentally inside a choir boy's bottom, you'd think they'd be quite partial to a bit of 'right to be forgotten'.

  13. arrbee

    Maybe if Google had opposed this specific issue in the lower courts, rather than seeking a declaration that they were immune from European laws, this could have been sorted out by now.

  14. thatmoron

    > Anyone anywhere in the world now has information at the touch of a button

    The dear baroness clearly doesn't get out much. Lots of places "anywhere in the world" do not heave meaningful Internet access/coverage, or if they do, most people cannot afford it.

  15. Rabbit80

    Smaller search engines???

    "The government officials argued that the search index ruling was impossible to enforce for smaller search engines that don’t have the resources of an ad behemoth like Google to process thousands of takedown requests."

    Like Bing who received under 20 requests on the first day of the ruling coming into effect(compared to Google's 12000). Not too sure smaller search engines will have that hard a time really!

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140710/16275627843/apparently-not-too-many-people-europe-care-about-having-microsofts-bing-forget-them.shtml

    1. Squander Two

      Re: Smaller search engines???

      Well, quite. And furthermore, the ruling specifically stated that it didn't apply to smaller search engines. I can't be arsed going and looking up the exact wording right now, but what it said was that Google have succeeded in putting themselves in a position where they are generally regarded by the public at large as the ultimate arbiter of information -- which, of course, they have. The ruling said that, where a company has managed to get itself into that position, they get more responsibility for their results than some small search engine does. Which seems fair enough: it's about influence: the results Google return attain the status of "truth" in a way that Yahoo's (currently) don't. Since Google worked very, very hard to achieve that position and influence, it does seem odd that they're complaining about it.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Smaller search engines???

        Sorry, I realise I went off at a tangent there. The really important point -- regardless of what you think of the law in question -- is that the ruling states unequivocally that it doesn't apply to small uninfluential search engines yet our Lords & Masters have stated unequivocally that the ruling is unworkable because of how it affects smaller search engines -- which means they haven't bloody read it. Always nice to have competent people in charge.

    2. ZAM

      Re: Smaller search engines??? Link to

      Maybe google should return something along the lines of:

      "Sorry we don't have all of the information on that subject. Might want to try you search on one of oour competitors such as <insert smaller search engine>."

      LOL

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Breaking News !

    The House of Lords is now desperately scrabbling to get this latest statement forgotten....

  17. Al Jones

    "vague, ambigupus and unhelpful criteria"

    "It is wrong in principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria".

    Here's an idea - how about coming up with clear, unambiguous and helpful criteria to give citizens some control over the way they are portrayed by search engines!

    It is actually a good thing that the initial ruling was not overly prescriptive, because we need a degree of dialog between a number of different parties, representing commercial, government and societal viewpoints on this issue, about how best to deliver on the principle that the ECJ has described. This will take time to work out, but the principle that each citizen has a right to their good name, and that that will impact how search engines respond to searches ON THAT NAME, will seem like common sense, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with deleting articles from the web.

  18. Al Jones

    A simple thought experiment

    Purely as a thought experiment, consider a law that banned searching by personal names entirely. It's immediately obvious that that would be fairly trivial to implement (with edge cases for certain names, but this is just a thought experiment) simply by filtering the index, something that every search engine does all the time. It obviously wouldn't involve the wholesale deletion of documents from the web, because the documents would still all be there, all findable by the hundreds or thousands of other words and phrases that make up the document.

    Would this "break the web"? It might have an impact on a tiny subset of users who actually search for peoples names, but most of us would never even notice, because we don't do that very often, and even when we do search a persons name, it wouldn't really matter that much to us if we couldn't. It would obviously help with the privacy concerns that some people have, and it might negatively affect c-list celebrities. But it's hard to see that it would really make that much difference to the world as we know it, once way or the other, so it would cost the ordinary web user practically nothing, but it would be considered useful by the small subset of users that are damaged by the blunt-force indexing of their name that we get today.

    After conducting this thought experiment, are you still convinced that a much more narrowly focused change that allows an ordinary user some control how a search engine handles their own name will be such a disaster for the Web? Yes, the details of how much control a user can have needs to be worked out, but the Googles of this world have tackled far harder issues than this.

  19. JaitcH
    WTF?

    It's a pity the House of Lords didn't apply their thought process as thoroughly on ...

    pants on fire DRIP legislation - that permits the government to pry even further into our private parts.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Daniel Hegglin and Google

    'Daniel Hegglin asked a London court to order Google to take down “vile and abusive” comments posted by an unknown person . Hegglin is also asking Google to hand over an IP address to help identify the author of the comments posted anonymously.' ref

  21. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Or we could all just grow up

    A simpler approach is for dumb search engines just to deliver results and for the human beings that use them to deploy their far greater intelligence to apply some sense of proportion and fairness to the results.

    On the purely technical front, quite a lot of mitigation would be had if search engines didn't bother with results that are more than 10 years old, unless you explicitly ask for it in the search query. Those too stupid to learn how to construct a search query with the relevant syntax would be automatically protected from finding stuff that they didn't know how to handle.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Or we could all just grow up

      @Ken Hagan

      Yes, that would be ideal, but we both know that we do not live in an ideal world.

      The concept works well for arguments about, e.g. pornography or (subjectively) offensive content as it's the person doing the searching, in general, who is being offended.

      Unfortunately, the problem here is that it's the person that is the subject of the search results being impacted. As per my previous post, one clear scenario is when going for a job. Recruiters, as well as internal HR staff routinely run searches on candidates and, in a depressed job market where there is a surplus of applicants for each role, it doesn't take much to put a resume into the 'no thanks' pile.

  22. DocJD

    Go directly to the source

    Newspapers have historically issued corrections or apologies for errors. They've had to do it days later and usually in small print somewhere. That may have been technically correct, but still didn't do much to overcome a front page headline which most people who read will never find out was inaccurate.

    However, it is not uncommon these days to see corrections to a story on the web, which works because it will be either edited and noted in the original or inserted as a parenthetical remark.

    Instead of complaining to a search engine (as in the cases posited above, where someone was arrested for murder but never charged or found guilty, or where the writer was found guilty of slander) why not make it a complaint to the news organization or other owner of the page to correct or parenthetically clarify their story? This does not involve censorship or removal of important information. It simply corrects the record in a way newspapers historically could not.

    For example, "John Doe was arrested as a suspect in the murder of Jane Doe." could, upon complaint, be changed to "John Doe was arrested (and released uncharged) as a suspect in the murder of Jane Doe." It would not give anyone the right to be forgotten for doing something stupid (but factually reported) but it would give them the right to have the record corrected. News organizations might even take it upon themselves to keep their stories updated and corrected, even without receiving an official legal complaint, as a way to achieve more credibility as a source.

    The Register ALREADY DOES THIS with their "Tips and corrections" link on each story.

    However this works out, the next battle after Google search results will be Wikipedia articles, which can often be edited to include false or dubious information.

  23. cracked
    Pint

    I am going outside now ... I may be some time

    I've posted lots and lots on this topic, on El Reg, over the last couple of months.

    So I'll be quick (for a change):

    I apologise, unreservedly and in advance, to the shade of the dearly departed Tony Benn, for what I am about to write:

    "God love the house of lords, if for nothing else than speaking sense"

    (please see title)

  24. Keep Refrigerated

    Who would have thought back in 1995...

    ... that by 2014 searching for something online would become such a legal quagmire.

  25. Diskcrash

    Idiots do idiotic things with idiotic thinking

    The problem is quite simple. None of this has anything to do with Google. If a person feels that there is incorrect or out of date information about them on the internet then they go the people holding that information and have it removed. Once removed, guess what happens? The link disappears. Amazing isn't it?

    The thought that by forcing google to remove the link to information that is legally available or at least has not been ruled otherwise is going to accomplish much is not well thought out.

    The argument that Google makes it easy to find out embarrassing details is not a valid argument about why Google should change its searches.

  26. Al Jones

    Google is doing something with my name that impacts on me (returning a somewhat arbitrary list of links to web pages that refer to me by name). It makes sense to me that Google has a responsibility to respond to my concerns, and where my concerns are reasonable, change the way it handles my name, by altering the list that it generates in response to a search on my name. (I will grant that the definition of "reasonable concern" is a matter for debate).

    The fact that some negative information about me exists is not the problem. The problem occurs when that negative information is presented without context in a way that has an inordinately negative effect. There is no question that Google has the technology and the wherewithal to change the results that are returned in response to a search for my name, the only question is what are the rules under which such changes should be made.

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