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 …

  1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    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.)

    1. John Crisp

      Re: This will be tough...

      I'll see your hydrogen and raise you a deuterium

      :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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).

      1. GrumpyKiwi
        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.

        1. Myvekk

          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.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            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)

          2. GrumpyKiwi

            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".

    3. Martin Summers Silver badge

      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.

      1. N13L5

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        2. Wayland Bronze badge

          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.

      2. emullinsabq

        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.

      3. patrickstar

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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,

        2. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

          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.

      4. VIA_KT133

        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.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      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?

    5. Just Enough

      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.

      1. nijam

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              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.

      2. N13L5

        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.

        1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

          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.

          1. Wayland Bronze badge

            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?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

      3. veti Silver badge

        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.

      4. Wayland Bronze badge

        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.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. gannett

        Re: This will be tough...

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

  2. David 132 Silver badge
    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!"

    1. strum Silver badge

      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.

    2. gannett

      Re: Ooh, goody, the Streisand effect.

      Represented by Sue,Grabbit&Run.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    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.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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?

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          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.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
            Boffin

            Streisand.

            That is all

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Headmaster

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  4. Jim Mitchell
    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?

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: fraud without deception?

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

  5. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    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?

    1. gerdesj Silver badge

      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.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        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.

    2. Notas Badoff

      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.

      1. Myvekk

        Re: Not so easy...

        @ Notas Badoff

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

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Not so easy...

          @Myvekk, you are clearly a minion of Goldstein, sent to make ungood. Eurasia is our Ally against Eastasia and always has been!

      2. Esme

        Re: Not so easy...

        @Notas Badoff - whilst I take your point if the only information available is in digital format, I find it astonishing that the world has come to this. How on earth did the world cope before the internet? DId people learn from history then? Well - sometimes, same as now. There was a lot less information gathered, and a lot less retained, and the world got by sufficiently well to get us to the internet age. Which rather suggests to me that most of the extra information gathered these days (aside from scientific research) is pure fluff - of little or no benefit to society (but considerable consequence).

        Indeed, I'd argue that quite a lot of the extra information gathered - that from 'social media' sites - is, on the whole, detrimental to society, constituting a massive invasion of personal privacy for little compensatory gain.*

        *Yes, I'm aware of instances where things like FB have had a positive effect - like the White Wednesdays movement and FIN. But contrast that to the downsides of 'social media', and consider whether anything that's done on 'social media' platforms couldn't be done just as well using email, newsgroups, IM,SMS and online fora - without the easy data-slurping and privacy invasion that we currently see.

        Anyway - I find it a tad peculiar that a court'd make such an exception for investment fraud over other kinds of fraud, but given that the court had done so, IMO Google absolutely should have followed the letter of the law. Google is not an elected government nor an independent judiciary, and indeed, behaves rather like a totalitarian regime that likes to throw its weight around and tell everyone what it feels is best for them, when what it actually means it's what is best for Google. Ditto Zuckenberg and FB. Neither FB nor Google seem truly willing to accept responsibility for the negative consequences of any of their actions (bit like a lot of politicians, really, except we don;t get to even vote for what Google and FB do).

      3. whileI'mhere

        Re: Not so easy...

        We're at war with Europa? Jeez, how did I miss that?

        1. gannett

          Re: Not so easy...

          ++fail.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not so easy... @gannett

            I believe the word you're looking for is ++unwin.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so easy...

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

      1. SloppyJesse

        Re: Not so easy...

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

        How many dodgy companies 'cease trading' and then a new company of the same name magically springs up in their place? If you can simply get Google (other search engines are available - apparently) to remove negative information on the basis it's about another company with the same (trading) name you have created a very effective way for dodgy people to mask historic wrongs.

    4. Brent Beach

      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.

      1. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

        Re: Not so easy...

        Unless your ISP shows you being in West Virginia, or Kentucky, or western Pennsylvania, or Ohio...

        When I'm on AT&T cellular data many sites thing I'm in Atlanta, GA. Except for the fact that I'm not.

        I have no answer here, just pointing out how convoluted this can all be.

    5. David 138

      Re: Not so easy...

      So I should be able to take down anything with the same name as me if i deem it to be negative?

      Having a database that google can link to seems to be the issue here. I wonder if anyone has done a take down request for that?

    6. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Not so easy...

      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.

      1. Awful analogy

      2. WTF ???? Your damn fault, do some research on your chosen name, you have to, for trademark reasons ... next, SOME IDIOT is gonna name his boat Titanic and sue the shit out of anybody mentioning the Titanic story ... And anyway, even IF there's a Bullet Burrito, say in Mexico, that opened AFTER YOURS as you did not trademark your name there, they poison 200 people, you cannot sue others for reporting/commenting on the story ... you had to make sure you were the only Bullet Burrito world-wide and get the necessary trademark protection if you wanted to protect your name.

      Back to the article:

      Some site mentions the fraud investigation, apparently, without clearly stating what type of fraud is being investigated, I guess they may ask the site to change that, if a court says it is libelous, they can force them to. I guess they found it easier to bully Google into "hiding" the sites in question ...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd be curious to know what'll happen if Google countered that US law COMPELS them to keep the link alive lest they be charged with hiding or destroying evidence, putting US sovereign law against German sovereign law?

    1. Ptol

      "I'd be curious to know what'll happen if Google countered that US law COMPELS them to keep the link alive lest they be charged with hiding or destroying evidence, putting US sovereign law against German sovereign law?"

      Thats a fact of life. Companies must obey all laws of all countries in which they operate. Their options are to withdraw from a country, to cease trading completely, or to lobby hard for a change in laws in the new country, so they can open an office and employ lots of people.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        But how does Google stop Hans von Deutsch sitting in his home in Allestadt from using Google?

    2. Orv Silver badge

      I've been involved with some data requests for court cases. I have never seen one that required me to keep the information *publicly* available. Just to retain a copy as potential evidence.

  7. bitten

    In series they always refer to the arrest database rather than to condemnation data. It's always weird to see someone described by his arrest record. I know that freedom of speech doesn't apply to me and can get me arrested the moment I enter the US.

    Now in some cases the complaints record could be significant (bill Cosby) where arrests and condemnations are blank.

  8. TheSolderMonkey

    Orwellian.

    Yeah, I know I'm not the first on this list to say this. The others were more cryptic.

    Technically I guess the company are correct. If the de-linked website says "fraud" and the company are not being investigated for "fraud" then the website is libellous. Whether or not they are being investigated for any other legally different offence is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

    Is this the ruling? I don't speak enough German.

    https://www.lhr-law.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Beschluss-OLG-M%C3%9C-Lumen-geschw.pdf

    If I were Google I'd have headed this off at the pass. A quiet word with the owner of the offending website to get the article changed so that the offence under investigation was correctly defined would have saved Google from a dangerous court precedent AND been a healthy two fingers to the company in question.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Orwellian.

      Why would Google want to become the clearinghouse for people to complain about a web site's content, just because Google links to it? The company should take it up with the web site if they believe its information is incorrect.

      1. TheSolderMonkey

        Re: Orwellian.

        @DougS

        Clearly they wouldn't.

        Conversely, why wouldn't Google have wanted to avoid having this law clarified and setting a distasteful precedent in Europe, especially when they could have avoided it so easily.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Orwellian.

        1) Google not only links to it, but shows snippets and may cache contents. So it actually "republish" contents

        2) Even returning results for a query i.e.. "DougS fraud" will lead, even telling "a link was removed" actually tells there was a link

        Also, it would be really Orwellian to ask to rewrite information that were correct at the time they were written, but changed or became irrelevant later - just like Minitrue....

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I know that this law might get misused by some large organizations to get unfavorable stories removed from search engines but in general it was meant to protect individuals who may have done something in the past that they regret which is effecting them now because it comes up on a Google search

    A friend of mine was done for drug possession when he was a teenager, he is now in his 30s and has a family and never been in trouble since. The conviction has now expired - so he doesn't need to inform people when he applies for a job - but yet stories in the local newspapers online archive could still be found by a Google search and could affect his job prospects.

    If Google had been told the law requires them to remove the link, to just push the link one extra click away is them clearly trying to get around the law.

    1. VulcanV5

      Absolutely right. The Law does allow for the full discharge of all guilt and the wiping clean of the slate. Google's double-click. . . doesn't.

      What also escapes the attention of many is that surprise, surprise, history did not begin with the Internet. The overwhelming majority of those whose crimes or conduct resulted in public penalty or public vilification before Google came along are well out of reach of online memory banks, whereas those penalised / vilified in a post-Google world are less advantaged.

      There was a time -- ah: I remember it well! -- when not everyone was famous for 15 minutes, still less -- if Facebook users are anything to go by -- forever.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        @ VulcanV5

        Many many many newspaper archives have been scanned from 'fiche to digital and are searchable.

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      @mark I 2

      I've been next to the 'stories in local newspapers .... could affect job prospects' in that searches online can on occasion return references to my father. It usually results in a question, and a pleasant chat about having learned from my fathers mistakes.. Your pivotal point -- "Conviction has Expired" is sufficient, and if someone were to use a google search result as a reason not to hire your friend in this context, they would be knowingly violating labour laws in at least 4 countries that I can think of off the top of my head.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: @mark I 2

        ...if someone were to use a google search result as a reason not to hire your friend in this context, they would be knowingly violating labour laws in at least 4 countries that I can think of off the top of my head.

        No one ever says, "Hi, we've decided not to hire you because of your past conviction, in violation of the law." No, they just don't call you back. You might suspect that's why but you can't prove it. This stuff is insidious.

        The worst situation is when you're charged with a serious crime, but later found innocent. A lot of search results aren't going to reflect the "found innocent" part. If the crime you're charged with is something morally heinous like child porn, your life is pretty much over at that point.

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      ...and can also be found by going to the library and looking through their newpaper archives. Think carefully what you are demanding - mass burnings of library contents. It happened. It is a historical fact. You can't change that by screaming and stamping your foot.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        A library newspaper search would have the advantage of a) requiring too much effort to be used in a five second snap judgement, and b) providing context. By the time you get there you've invested effort in a candidate; it's very different than skimming the top Google search results and deciding to chuck their resume in the trash based on what people with the same name as them appear to have done.

  10. Lee D Silver badge

    "For the sake of ensuring compliance, we've removed every mention of your company from the entire search database, including your website, articles, links, adverts, reviews, map location, stock ticker, etc."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "For the sake of ensuring compliance, we've removed every mention of your company from the entire search database, including your website, articles, links, adverts, reviews, map location, stock ticker, etc."

      Ha ha ha, you're so funny, a bit simple, but funny never the less.

  11. Geronimo!

    I read the verdict for you...

    TheSolderMonkey posted the link zu a copied/scanned version of the verdict.

    It's not that complicated.

    Said company actually distributed information about one of their investment products, which held false information, thus possibly not correctly depicting the risk attached to actually buying this product.

    => I found NO information, if this was deliberately done so, or if this was was just plain, human error.

    The company was ordered to take this information down and they very well have an interest in doing so: They'd be held liable, if any investor using this product -based upon this information- suffered damages.

    However: The link to an article (Headline looks like BILD (Eq. to the Sun) could've written it) apparently also containing links or information about said product still pops up in Google.

    So they asked Google to take this information down - which they did, partially.

    And that is where the court ruled as it did: The company tried to fulfill the court order to remove all information concerning this product. Not only because of their reputation, but also because of their liability.

    If Google does not remove the entry, the company could be under investigation again, due to not doing as the court ordered - or be sued due to customers still having access to false information.

    * I am definitely no lawyer (I still have some conscience left ;) ), I just am able to interpret the docs, due to living in Germany...

    1. nijam

      Re: I read the verdict for you...

      > So they asked Google to take this information down - which they did, partially.

      ..but the red-top with the original and possibly-inaccurate report can leave it online for everyone to see. How does this ruling make any sense at all?

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: I read the verdict for you...

        In 1989 The Sun falsely claimed loads of stuff about Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough. I presume that the answer is to break into every library and home in the world, to search out every copy of that issue of and burn it?

  12. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    So in this case

    ( Thanks to Geronimo)

    "Said company actually distributed information about one of their investment products, which held false information, thus possibly not correctly depicting the risk attached to actually buying this product."

    If I'm following that detail - the company in question released details of a product that were inaccurate, and *other* entities propagated this information. Google is linking to the "inaccurate" information. There are TWO points to this. Both of which are relevant to the 'editing history' crap.

    1) there should have been a requirement to distribute a 'mea culpa' document correcting the information and

    2) anyone in the *other entities* list should have been required to edit the original posting with the mea culpa.

    How, in this case, does what could be seen as an editorial error fall under the 'right to be forgotten' rules?

    Compare please, "We screwed up and didn't get all the data straight" to "Participated in adolescent stupidity".

  13. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Surely the correct headline would be:

    Right to be forgotten forgotten

  14. Mage Silver badge

    While we are at it

    Can we stop Google scanning entire copyright works and poisoning search results with them and allowing FAR more than fair use to be viewed online.

    Also PRIVACY? Single sign in to even non-Google sites using Google. Cookies, Analytics, Android. There is a TRUCKLOAD of stuff to sue Google for in most countries other than USA.

    Irrelevant: The OCR versions of stuff Google thinks are public domain are not proofed. They are rubbish quality compared to Gutenberg.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kieren

    I only had a superficial read of your article and the German press, but I do not think this has any relation to the so-called "right to be forgotten" doctrine, which is an application of the laws on personal data protection (implementing the 1995 Directive) and therefore applies to individuals, not to legal persons (companies).

    The case is question is being brought on the rough German equivalent of libel laws.

    Also, you may have noticed that when results have potentially been removed under the "right to be forgotten", a) a different notice appears; b) there is no link to Chilling Effects or any other database of such requests; and c) it does not necessarily means that results *have* been removed.

    So this is a different kettle of fish.

  16. Bucky 2

    I think I'm missing something

    The right to be forgotten (as I understand it) is a human right. I'm not under the impression human rights are automatically inherited by corporations. I am not a lawyer. It could be the case. I don't think it should be the case, though.

    If a corporation has simply been libeled (as some have suggested), then the proper agency to bring charges against is the offending web site. It's not appropriate to bring charges against Google simply because it's an easier target. Some have suggested that the original author could be difficult to find, but that's not really relevant.

    If a corporation committed some act of misinformation and is under a court order to remove that information, I don't see how a reasonable court would insist on not only removing the misinformation, but removing any hint that the misinformation existed.

    And that seems like it's the whole issue. The company wants to remove any evidence that it has been embarrassed. I don't understand why a company should have that right.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I think I'm missing something

      The problem becomes: what if the offending website is outside the corporation's jurisdiction and will not honor a takedown notice because of sovereign immunity?

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: I think I'm missing something

      We live in a world where daily news can show content and media on repeat that has been taken off Facebook due to being illegal but just blur or cut out a second before the event.

      So it's very strange how one company can get (rightfully) into trouble for not checing the content it publishes (Facebook seems to not allow self hosting services) yet the news companies can make money off shoeing (instead of just reporting) such content.

      There seems to be some relevancy. Who dhowuld remove the phone service to a criminal... the phone book listing or the phone company? (Shared responsibility... but only one has an actual result!)

  17. Rob Gr

    Sadly, that's not the case here. The right to be forgotten simply allows someone to request that links to information be removed when "there is no compelling reason for its continued processing" - that is not the same thing as the information being incorrect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The right to be forgotten simply allows

      No, that's not the case. Please do a search next time, there is a wealth of easily accessible information from authoritative sources on the matter.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fairvesta ...

    ... is the name of the company in question, and you still find plenty of information concerning the original proceedings, for example this report by the leading consumer protection agency in Germany:

    https://www.test.de/Fairvesta-Staatsanwalt-ermittelt-wegen-Kapitalanlagebetrugs-4730642-0/

    https://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&u=https%3A//www.test.de/Fairvesta-Staatsanwalt-ermittelt-wegen-Kapitalanlagebetrugs-4730642-0/

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Fairvesta ...

      Searching for "Fairvesta" on duckduckgo gives mainly critical links. With google the first critical link is still on the first page, but near the bottom. Both searches from a German IP.

      This really reeks of a company that has a lot to hide.

  19. Lord_Beavis
    Pirate

    Um...

    Do we need to tell Germany that nothing is hidden on the Internet?

  20. Brian Allan 1

    Gotta side with Google on this one!

    What a bunch of bullshit! There is no need for anything on the internet to be delinked. Google's approach is definitely a good one; screw German sensitivities on this issue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gotta side with Google on this one!

      > There is no need for anything on the internet to be delinked

      I had my name, passport number, and other personal details showing up on Google out of the blue one day, thanks to some careless fucks at a third world country that I had to apply for a visa for.

      When the doctrine that we now know as "right to be forgotten" appeared, it made my life significantly easier and now that personal data has, for all intents and purposes, been taken off the internet.

      And no, you do not "gotta" side with anyone--you can just read the article, see if there is anything of interest in it, and then move along. It's not a football game or something.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A better headline would be German court wants to punish Google. For something.

    Anything.

    It doesn't matter what.

    Because they can.

    If this was about justice, then the court would be going after every other search engine on the planet. And the source material. Which they're not.

    So, the case really is just about Google bashing.

  22. Robin Bradshaw
    Trollface

    What about Bing?

    Why is it always about google?

    Cant Bing get some love too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about Bing?

      See previous comment.

      Which for some unknown reason has been down voted without explanation as to why it's wrong.

      Unless they're just google bashers as well...

  23. Colin Miller

    ask for a clarification?

    If I'm reading this correctly, then Zenith-Betriebe* is concerned that Der Tägliche Iris** inaccurately reported on allegations against Zenith-Betriebe. This allowed Der Tägliche Iris's readers to form the wrong conclusion about the type of fraud alleged against Zenith-Betriebe.

    So why didn't Zenith-Betriebe contact Der Tägliche Iris, and ask them to correct their article? Instead it appears that Zenith-Betriebe went straight to the right-to-be-forgotten law.

    *, ** all names used are fictional, and any relationship to any real entity is accidental and unintentional.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: ask for a clarification?

      You're assuming "Der Tägliche Iris" is within the jurisdiction of "Zenith-Betriebe". What if the problem is that it ISN'T, thus a takedown notice isn't being honored on account of sovereign immunity?

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