back to article How 'parasitic' Google's 'We're journalists!' court defence was stamped into oblivion

Google's efforts to claim that it should be exempt from EU data protection laws because its search engine is "journalistic" really did not impress the judge in the Right To Be Forgotten trial. As we reported from the trial, one of the main planks of Google's defence in the RTBF trial amounted to the advertising technology …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    A search engine should be an index

    To find what is on the web.

    That is its job.

    If it finds unpleasant articles get those taken down rather than the search, then the search cannot find them.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "get those taken down"

      Sorry, that would be the wrong solution. There are reason why a simple index lacking context should not report in a misleading way an original source which, in the right context, is perfectly OK, and thereby there's no reason to remove it.

      It's just like you don't destroy each and every copy of a nasty book, which could be of value to scholars to understand what went wrong in the past, but maybe its contents should not appear as the best result if you search for anything related, without any context.

      Or maybe if someone looks for "suicide" is better to return results about how to get help, and not info about poisons, etc - which in their own could be useful, i.e. how to identify poisoning and how to deal with it.

      "Popularity" is not the right way to index everything - especially when it can have dire consequences.

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: "get those taken down"

        "if someone looks for "suicide" is better to return results about how to get help"

        That might help someone considering suicide (unlikely but maybe) but it most definitely won't help someone who is researching suicide for other reasons. Say a journalist trying to find the average suicide rate. A search engine should not make value decisions like that but should just present the data, properly sorted and indexed.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "should not make value decisions [..] should just present the data, properly sorted and indexed"

          What is "properly sorted and indexed"? You need a context for it. Different contexts, and "properly" assume different meanings.

          If a researcher looking for suicide rate is using Google, he or she have an issue.

          The context of Google is being a generic search engine which has a bigger chance of being used by a generic public, often unaware of the ways to get precise results (how many used Google's advanced search features?). How large is the probability that a single search for "suicide" is made by a researcher or someone thinking about putting an end to his or her life?

          In this situations, it's better to be ethical and err on the safer side. Or you may think that ads for drugs are more valuable and tell people which one will kill them faster. Maybe you can also tell them from which online site they can get them - oops, they've been already fined for that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "should not make value decisions [..] should just present the data, properly sorted and indexed"

            "In this situations, it's better to be ethical and err on the safer side."

            Absolutely not.

            It is better to be ethical and index everything, without censorship.

            In the greater context, that may well be the safer thing.

        2. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          Re: Iron

          Exactly iron

          I still see Google as essentially a phone book, with people arguing that their numbers should be removed and tearing pages out.

          1. FlossyThePig

            Re: Iron

            I still see Google as essentially a phone book, with people arguing that their numbers should be removed and tearing pages out.

            I didn't tear the page out, just went ex-directory.

            1. handleoclast

              Re: Iron

              I didn't tear the page out, just went ex-directory.

              Did you go NDQ as well? BT don't tell you that's an option and you have to specifically request it (and tell them you really, really mean it, you understand all the implications, and you still really, really, really mean it).

              Hmmm, I googled for it (and alternative names it might have) and it seems to be completely absent as an option. Maybe they won't let you have it any more, or maybe they're being extra secretive. Not even mentioned in the option to pay them regular extra money so they phone the telephone preference service for you (once).

              NDQ means (or meant) "no directory queries." Which means they won't tell anybody who phones directory enquiries and asks for your number (no point asking for NDQ unless you go ex-directory as well). It's worth asking, but be prepared to tell them that you really, really, really, really, really mean it.

      2. Joe Harrison

        Re: "get those taken down"

        Or maybe if someone looks for "suicide" is better to return results about how to get help, and not info about

        That's what we need for every search engine, a governing body who decides what is Better for you to be allowed to see. I propose we call it Ministry of Truth.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: "get those taken down"

          @ Joe Harrison

          "That's what we need for every search engine, a governing body who decides what is Better for you to be allowed to see. I propose we call it Ministry of Truth."

          Thumbs up. I am concerned how people think their view of what google is and how it should be (even the scary suggestion of what should be displayed in results!). Google is a private company and whatever twisted version of ethics each person has is irrelevant. The world is as it is, not as a single mind would like to force it to be.

          I fear we are heading towards a Ministry of Truth situation. I expect those trying to regulate it are also the ones who would complain that there is no European Google, Facebook or some such without realising why.

          1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

            Re: "get those taken down"

            I fear we are heading towards a Ministry of Truth situation

            We have had that for years and every country has. This imaginary right of unrestrained and unrestricted freedom of speech has never existed.

            What you actually fear is the Ministry of Truth taking it too far, interfering in things you don't believe should be interfered with, and I expect we all harbour such fears which is why we should all be conscious of what they are doing and ensuring they are controlled with checks and balances.

            But, at the end of the day, whether the Ministry of Truth has gone too far or not, comes down to whether you and your mates should get what you want or whether others and their mates should get what they want. And there's no single or simple answer for that, no absolutes, no universal truths.

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

              Re: "get those taken down"

              "This imaginary right of unrestrained and unrestricted freedom of speech has never existed"

              It does in the US. We would do well to enshrine that in law too.

              1. AndyS

                Re: "get those taken down"

                > It does in the US. We would do well to enshrine that in law too.

                No, unrestrained and unrestricted freedom of speech does not exist in the US. The classic case is that Americans have no right to shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre, but there are many more restrictions, from grounds of National Security all the way down to various incitements.

                Deciding what is, and what is not, allowed, is one of the core functions of Government. Using silly terms to try and demonise a government clarifying (or even making) law, in unclear cases, does nobody any favours.

                1. Mike Ozanne

                  Re: "get those taken down"

                  "The classic case is that Americans have no right to shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre, "

                  well unless they have a reasonable belief that they smell smoke in which case it's their duty.... And to be frank if Schenck vs United States was heard today it would probably go the other way....

            2. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: "get those taken down"

              @ Jason Bloomberg

              "But, at the end of the day, whether the Ministry of Truth has gone too far or not, comes down to whether you and your mates should get what you want or whether others and their mates should get what they want."

              This is the mistake of the argument. It isnt a zero sum game, it is not to restrict either. The example a few comments above over searching for suicide and sanitising the results to 'ethical' (dictated) ones was blown apart by someone pointing out legitimate reason. It is that quick desire to restrict which is the problem.

              I also pointed out Google is a private business and that private means something. It means if someone thinks it should be more ethical they can sod off and set their own up for like minds if anyone would be interested. And they might if people had the same 'ethics', a word that bothers me as much as 'morals' as it is extremely fuzzy to be almost worthless.

              "And there's no single or simple answer for that, no absolutes, no universal truths."

              I answered this with- "Google is a private company and whatever twisted version of ethics each person has is irrelevant. The world is as it is, not as a single mind would like to force it to be.". We should all be as free as we can because then we have useful advancements such as google.

              Above we have differing interpretations of what google is. Different people having different visions of what it is. But it doesnt belong to them, it is not theirs. And they are free to set up their own if they feel google should be better.

          2. Mark 85 Silver badge

            @Codejunky -- Re: "get those taken down"

            Part of the problem is that Google seems to have set up it's searches thinking it is a Ministry of Truth. That is for some value of "truth". We do a search and we get Google's preferences first. So yes, they are acting with prejudice. It's been a long time since their motto was "Do no evil".

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: @Codejunky -- "get those taken down"

              @ Mark 85

              "Part of the problem is that Google seems to have set up it's searches thinking it is a Ministry of Truth." and "We do a search and we get Google's preferences first"

              But is this wrong or even a problem? Google shows what google want to show as determined by the private business that is google. Just as I expect tesco to show its preferences, amazon its, ford motors theirs.

              There is the expectation that by choosing to use a particular branded and therefore privately owned service that they will most likely promote according to that companies desires and advantages. They are not the ministry of truth, they are private and therefore expected to have their bias for whatever reasons they choose.

              The mistake is thinking google should not be allowed to be private because it is popular. That their business for some reason no longer belongs to them.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "a governing body who decides what is Better for you to be allowed to see. "

          Anarchy is not a better solution. We have given ourselves rules because it makes society work better as a whole. We may challenge the rules, if they don't work or result to be bad. But no rules usually turns very bad.

          Do you mean Google should be able to return links to illegal contents, because no governing body should decide they are not legal? Do you mean companies should have no ethics and try to understand the far reaching effects of their decisions? Why should Google decide what people are allowed to see? What's oversight exist on its operations?

          "1984" is just one way how the world can go wrong - but not the unique one. "Lord of the Flies" is another. Or "The Circle".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "a governing body who decides what is Better for you to be allowed to see. "

            "Anarchy is not a better solution."

            It is not anarchy, it is freedom to communicate.

            'Censorship' is just a polite term for ideological tyranny.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @LDS -- Re: "get those taken down"

        "Popularity" is not the right way to index everything - especially when it can have dire consequences.

        It may not be right way, but it seems to be the a somewhat easier way to do it. Your arguments would require a huge human investment and then there's the moral question of "who decides?". Who determines what is a "nasty book" or perhaps the suicide info will benefit someone looking for warning signs in a loved one. Sometimes it's the hoarding of certain medications is the clue.

        I'm not defending Google nor would I try as they are only in this for the money but yes, there needs to be a better way. Censorship as you seem to be advocating would lead us down a real slippery slope. Yeah.... I know Google "censors" and "buries" links based on "hits" and "profit" but I'm not sure what the solution to that is.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A search engine should be an index

      "If it finds unpleasant articles get those taken down rather than the search, then the search cannot find them."

      The articles themselves are reports of then current events published from newspaper archives under journalistic protection.

      All you have to do to accomplish your objective is get yourself elected to Parliament, put up a private members' bill to remove that protection from the DPA while simultaneously getting into the EU to get it removed from the GDPR as your amended DPA would cause grave problems if it didn't reflect GDPR.

      An essential aspect of the court hearing was to establish what the law is in this regard. If you think that's in some way wrong you need to change the law.

  2. Vinyl-Junkie

    I may be misunderstanding the process but...

    ...isn't where Wikipedia appears down to Wikipedia's search optimisation rather than Google? I've just run the same search through Google, Bing & DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia was the top hit on two of them, and second on the third (Bing).

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

      No, Google looks for in Wikipedia and even creates ad-hoc boxes on the right to show it contents. It does something similar for StackOverflow as well, in a different form. That's specific code, not a generic one.

      1. Vinyl-Junkie

        Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

        Thanks but I'm still not sure how that is different from Bing & DDG; which appear to do something very similar.

        1. Matthew Brasier

          Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

          It isn't different to Bing etc, all the major search engines do it, because when someone searches for a topic then often a well written (if such a thing exists) wikipedia article on the subject is a great place for them to start.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

        @LDS

        The fact that Google's algorithm lifts the data from Wikipedia is due to Wikipedia's SEO. If the site were not so high on the rankings for these questions, the data wouldn't be pulled from Wikipedia to the SERP.

        These boxes above the results also show from a large number of sites - try searching "how to make a..." and substituting some kind of food in there. For me, I got three different sites for three different recipes.

        Further reading: https://searchengineland.com/get-featured-snippets-site-224959

        In essence, Google implemented this into their algorithm but it's up to websites to take advantage of it.

        1. Vinyl-Junkie

          Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

          @ArrZarr

          Thanks for that; the article explains the process and why I get similar results on different search engines; they are all implementing variations of the "featured snippets" code.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

        No, Google looks for in Wikipedia and even creates ad-hoc boxes on the right to show it contents. It does something similar for StackOverflow as well, in a different form. That's specific code, not a generic one.

        Yes, and in the process often does away with the need for the user to actually visit the website from which the information has come. Perhaps that's of no concern to the ad free Wikipedia, but a revenue reducer for Stack Overflow, and other websites that they do a similar thing to.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

          @AC

          Google's view in the matter is that if your query can be answerd by a snippet without loading another page, then the user experience is improved by presenting that snipped.

          I'm undecided on whether this is a better or worse system on balance for the reason you mentioned.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I may be misunderstanding the process but...

      "down to Wikipedia's search optimisation rather than Google"

      I think there are three possibilities:

      1 WP is just a demonstrably good source of information on a large number of topics and therefore wins in a fair fight against other sites.

      2 The actual algorithms that Google (and other search engines) use give preference to WP because the human authors thought it would improve search results.

      3 WP uses sneaky techniques to game all the search engines.

      Given that the SEO "rules" are in constant flux as Google try to outwit their opponents and given that WP have next to no control over 99% of their site's content, I think (3) is unlikely. (2) is unfair, in the sense that only WP can benefit from a hard-coded rule for their domain, but fair in the sense that Google presumably only wrote the rule because WP is consistently better than the SEO-driven crud that they fight on a daily basis. (1) is clearly fair and IMHO might actually be true as long as you steer clear of politicised topics.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Maybe Wikipedia is high because people click on it?

        If I did a search for aardvark and see a few links like Nat Geo along with Wikipedia, I'll probably choose Wikipedia. It is likely to have whatever information about aardvarks I'm looking for, and if it doesn't will probably provide enough information to help me refine my search to "aardvark mating habits" or whatever.

        If I was looking for info about Trump Russian collusion I'd not want Wikipedia because 1) it likely isn't well updated on fast moving current events, and 2) it is a highly partisan subject so even if there was info about it it would be the victim of partisans on both sides editing it until it was locked down and become no longer current or no longer accurate depending on the politics of those who were allowed to edit it.

        And surprise surprise, Wikipedia is the first choice for aardvark but not on the first page for Trump Russian collusion.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    The judge is an idiot!

    He should of let them be "journalists"

    That would then make them responsible for every libellous article they index and publish....should be a few billion a year in fines right there.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: The judge is an idiot!

      Nice one... I missed that as an option.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The judge is an idiot!

      A good judge can't simply look for revenge.... even if entities like Google would deserve it.

    3. Kevin Johnston

      Re: The judge is an idiot!

      Was coming here to make much the same comment. They cannot claim both the Journalist protection and also the 'Common Carrier' protection so one way or other they will get hammered out of this.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google has not responded to The Register's questions

    lost in translation? taking a leaf from the apple? too big to fail? :)

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Google has not responded to The Register's questions

      It has invoked the Right To Be Forgotten...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Google has not responded to The Register's questions

        More likely they've invoked the Zuckerberg defence of "la la la, not listening"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google has not responded to The Register's questions

        It has invoked the Right To Be Forgotten...

        on 'The Register' and therefore could not find who to reply to !!! :)

  5. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Perhaps...

    In it's haste to forestall the right to be forgotten, Google has forgotten what is right? :)

    (More seriously, this is a BS dodge by Google's expensive lawyers. I can underrstand why the expensive lawyers tried this, but this defense doesn't pass the smell test.)

  6. Hans Blick

    me thinks something is afoot!

    Why go with a defense of a journalistic organisation? What other options do they have and what would they have been? Whats the long game that Google are playing in the legal field... is it to try and keep their sandbox from being regulated beyond what GDPR asks the ICO to do?

    I'm sure some of the finest conspiracy theory minds here could come up with a plausible theory....

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: me thinks something is afoot!

      Shame they lost, I've been a programmer for over 30 years, so I would then be able to join the NUJ... :-D

    2. theblackhand Silver badge

      Re: me thinks something is afoot!

      "Whats the long game that Google are playing in the legal field... "

      I think they're prodding the edges of the law to see what can and can't be done and I'm not sure it's bad in this case.

      While I can understand journalists may be upset at a clearly non-journalistic organisation attempting to use their rights to avoid taking down articles, I'm not sure it's as black and white as many are making out. I'm certainly not disputing Googles relationship with news media as being "parasitic".

      Do we see Google as a library and largely content agnostic (they collect and distribute using a more user friendly method that doesn't require users to go to the source) or do we see Google as something that we censor via laws? I suspect Google sees itself closer to the former (at least in search) and the reality is the later, only we prefer not to use the word censor due to the negative connotations. If Google agrees with the laws they are left unchallenged (i.e historically illegal in western countries legal systems), if there is more of a grey area, they are prepared to fight it.

      The legal arguments used might upset some, but lawyers have tended to favour a winnable argument over public perception.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [citation needed]

    prominent placement of Wikipedia as the top result for most searches, to give one example, certainly isn't a happy coincidence.

    If Google is manipulating results to favor Wikipedia, that's a whole 'nother bombshell.

    Wikipedia has consistently ranked among the world's top 5-10 websites (according to Alexa and so forth) for 10+ years. It's the first place most people look (typically via Google search) when they want to know some random factoid. Why shouldn't it be the top result?

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: [citation needed]

      The question is whether they are at the top because they get clicked or the get clicked because they're at the top. It's plausible that Google's been promoting Wikipedia for 10 years and that's why it's always at the top. It's also plausible that everyone knows what Wikipedia is search for it on their own.

      Assuming that there's nothing dodgy going on is great for Google. I'd rather they weren't both the biggest web advertiser and biggest gateway to the web. The fact they could manipulate their search product to guide people towards sites that are profitable for their ad business should make anyone suspicious.

    2. BoldMan

      Re: [citation needed]

      But isn't that a chicken and egg scenario, its only got those stats because google favours it in its search results.

      Personally I'm shocked that anyone thought otherwise about the placement of Wackypedia in Googles search results.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: [citation needed]

        "its only got those stats because google favours it in its search results."

        If I were writing a search engine algorithm, I'd favour WP too. WP is a search engine. Each article is a search query and the citations are the search results. The algorithm used by WP is "Wait for someone who cares about the subject to do the research for you." and whilst this is open to abuse by those who care but should be ignored, it also delivers excellent results for uncontroversial topics. It is a splendid complement to a machine-driven algorithm.

  8. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Just curious El Reg

    NT1 has lost his case, but you still cant name him? How long until that protection runs out? I assume there is a set period in which he has to file his paperwork to appeal. If he doesnt appeal, the case is finished and the protection disappears, correct?

    Or am i missing something?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Just curious El Reg

      Because that is what the reporting around the case requires.

      You can still search for NT1 using his real name, but the court doesn't have to help you.

    2. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Just curious El Reg

      There's a reporting restriction order now in force which bans naming either NT1 or NT2 that's effectively there forever ("until further order"). It was first made "until judgment is handed down" (or similar wording, digging it out of the office safe is too much hassle for a comment) and renewed on the morning of the judgment.

      Unless someone with exceptionally deep pockets fancies challenging that (hint, it won't be El Reg), they'll both be anonymous in relation to this court case forever. NT1 at least is Googleable.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Just curious El Reg

        Thanks for the answer Gaz. I was not aware that such indefinite reporting restrictions could be enforced... good to know (or not depending on your opinion of blanket bans!). :)

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Just curious El Reg

          Try living in Germany!

          You get pictures of people being searched for by the police, in extreme circumstances. But as soon as they have been apprehended, the press cannot show their faces, so they are blurred out.

          Even Anis Amri, over a year after his death, is still shown with a blurred out face, when something comes up in the news. Prisoners being shown on the news also have their faces blurred out - as do witnesses, ANY children on the news. Without a signed waiver, none of them can be shown on TV, only prominent people in the public eye (read z-list celebs and above) can be shown without blurring their faces.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NT2 easily identifiable anyway

    NT2 now needs to get the details of this trial removed from history, as they are identifable by googling certain details revealed in this trial.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NT2 easily identifiable anyway

      Amusing that,

      NT2 being the easily identifiable one despite 'winning' his point in the court, yet NT1 being harder to put a definite name to from the available clues despite the court finding against him and stating that

      '..The information retains sufficient relevance today. He has not accepted his guilt, has misled the public and this Court, and shows no remorse over any of these matters. He remains in business, and the information serves the purpose of minimising the risk that he will continue to mislead, as he has in the past.'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: NT2 easily identifiable anyway

        Interesting that would suggest that in the judges opinion NT2 had accepted his guilt and was remorseful.

        May be if you had the chance to read the articles and interviews with NT2 you might come to the altenative opinion that they aren't really remorseful and/or only accepted guilt for a reduced sentence.

        As with Trump, some people see him as a great president, others see him as an utter baffoon

  10. hellwig Silver badge

    This is just Censorship

    Sure, you have the right to your own opinions, but good luck sharing those with our totalitarian regime controlling what people even know exist. Go ahead and post something to the internet, but we control what the indexing sites display so no one is going to see your information.

    Of course, do people actually even use Google for information anymore? The last US election showed us most Americans (at least) only get their information from Facebook.

    If the court's reasoning in this case is that linking to the article without the context that the guilty party "served their time and seems honestly remorseful and thus the article is no longer applicable" , then the same reasoning should be used to pull conspiracy theories and other false articles from Google. If someone searched "earth" and was linked to a "flat earth" website, they wouldn't have the context necessary to know that it's total B.S. So shouldn't the EU protect ALL citizens from information like that? If they will edit the internet to protect ONE citizen, surely that power could be better put to use to protect ALL citizens at once.

    The EU is setting a VERY dangerous precedent between Right to Know and flat-out censorship of the information the Government doesn't think you need to know. Imagine if the EU had climate change deniers and you could see how bad this could get. Relying on your politicians to remain intelligent and competent is really not a good method of governing if the past several thousand years of human history has shown us anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is just Censorship

      "Relying on your politicians to remain intelligent and competent is really not a good method of governing if the past several thousand years of human history has shown us anything."

      This is exactly the reason that any form of censorship is a very very dangerous practice, usually enshrining the tyranny of the majority (or the politically influential) over the rights of individuals to hold and share dissenting ideas.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: This is just Censorship

      "Relying on your politicians to remain intelligent and competent is really not a good method of governing if the past several thousand years of human history has shown us anything."

      Relying on your citizens to let bygones be bygones is not a good method of running a legal system either. That's why your legal system explicitly spells out notions like "spent conviction". There has to be a balance and, in this case, NT1 went one way and NT2 went the other, so it clear that there *is* a balance. It is a happy (and instructive) co-incidence that this judge was asked to decide on two cases at the same time and felt able to decide differently.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is just Censorship

      "climate change deniers"

      This is another one of those dangerous terms that is usually hung on people with little regard for accuracy, but rather to malign those whose opinions may differ from one's own exact preferences.

      In my experience, it is often used by those with a weak understanding of physics, computer simulation, complex interacting systems, experimental design, the nature of scientific proof, and the pitfalls of predicting history, and the relationship between mathematics and reality (hint - quote from Einstein)..

      Those interested in thinking about both modelling and the prognostication problem might look at 'The Limits to Growth (1972)", the Malthusian predictions of the 1960s and 1970s, the 1990s predictions about the imminent exhaustion of oil supplies (peak oil predictions have been coming out since the 70s, and often claimed the peak was 'now', 'next decade' or 'already past'), the 'proof' that bumblebees can't fly, similar mathematical 'proofs' that a steamship cannot cross the Atlantic and that a rocket cannot reach the moon.

      For that matter, it seems that some people were concerned about the looming collapse of international shipping (around the 19th century) due to the growing shortage of suitable large trees for masts...

      Predictions of doom almost always underestimate alternate solutions and flexible responses. Trying to predict what will happen two centuries hence is a mug's game, but saying so will generally get you labelled a 'climate change denier' because you don't buy into simplistic models, which may have lots of variables to twiddle, but cannot account for future science and technology.

  11. Bitsminer
    Paris Hilton

    So there you have it

    Google is officially parasitic.

  12. J27 Bronze badge

    Every country in the world trying to regulate the internet is not the right solution. What we need is universal, world-wide regulations or we'll be trapped in an inescapable regulatory minefield. Now, how this could be accomplished, I have no idea, but every little chief setting ridiculously complex regulations like this is not a reasonable solution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      I can't imagine how one-world government (with interplanetary reach) would be an improvement.

      By your logic, I suppose you can't wait for Earth to fall under the jackboot of some intergalactic borg empire.

  13. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Big Brother

    arguments from both sides... but...

    There are arguments form both sides of the fence, maybe it would be better if the top result for a search for suicide is a list off places to get help, but that opens a whole world of issues.

    Search engines would need a list from the ministry of information on what search terms should divert to alternative pages. Then we would need a ministry of truth to tell us that its for our own good.

    then there's the other argument that the search engines should just index what its bots find. But the problem with that is when you get a whole bunch of websites publishing fake info then it just gets indexed and vomited up when asked. for example search for aspartame or vaccines. you will get in the top pages all the nonsense on how both are going to kill you or other nonsense. It makes it hard for the great unwashed to find out what's actually true or not. so should webshites drivelling on about hoax moon landings, flat earth and evolution is not real, be blocked? then we are back to the ministry if information and ministry of truth again....

    what is actually needed is search results that indicate how it got its page rank.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: arguments from both sides... but...

      ...depends on your definition of "help". Unfortunately Google may be a "good" source of help for the troubled person.

  14. cutterman

    I use Google to search for stuff because it mostly gets me to the references I need faster. Better answers than B*ng etc., except for very specialised search engines.

    Advanced search also allows me, if I so choose, to find sites with unpatched servers and other vulnerabilities.

    A search engine is a search engine, for better or for worse - crippling it to weed out undesirable or "antisocial" searches is not the answer.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are journalists for the sake of avoiding data protection, but not a publisher when taking responsibility for content. Convenient.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they are journalists...

    ...they must also be publishers.

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