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European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement" 210

An anonymous reader writes in with this article from the BBC about Google's recent removal of a news story from search results. "Google's decision to remove a BBC article from some of its search results was "not a good judgement", a European Commission spokesman has said. A link to an article by Robert Peston was taken down under the European court's "right to be forgotten" ruling. But Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission's vice-president, said he could not see a "reasonable public interest" for the action. He said the ruling should not allow people to "Photoshop their lives". The BBC understands that Google is sifting through more than 250,000 web links people wanted removed."
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European Commission Spokesman: Google Removing Link Was "not a Good Judgement"

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  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2014 @05:41AM (#47382339)

    No it doesn't, it's based on existing judgements. People didn't have the right to photoshop before, and they shouldn't now.

    This is a social right and so the right to be forgotten should only be applied if most people would agree it can be forgotten. It's always been the case that if you're a well known person you're SOL.

    It's supposed to be used by random John Doe's who got listed for something that is now completely irrelevent. The more well known you are, the less becomes irrelevent.

    Ironically, the richer you are the more relevent your history becomes and the less you can protect.

  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Friday July 04, 2014 @05:46AM (#47382347)

    The original case was a newspaper notice of a personal bankruptcy of a pretty obscure person, while this is a story about a very public CEO resignation. The decision is a bit of a mess, I agree, but this case pretty clearly falls outside its scope, which explicitly says that stories involving public roles are excluded (which resigning as CEO of Merill Lynch certainly counts as).

    From the explanatory summary (pdf) [] that accompanied the decision, explaining when search-engine operators may turn down removal requests:

    The request may for example be turned down where the search engine operator concludes that for particular reasons, such as for example the public role played by John Smith, the interest of the general public to have access to the information in question justifies showing the links in Google search results.

  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:10AM (#47382423)
    google is in a no win situation here. The sheer volumne of material they have to sift through makes it impossible to hire enough people, but the decisions require personal attention. If Europe wants to specify every link google can and cannot make available then they need to let google know in a timely manner. They want it both ways.
  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:4, Informative)

    by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:11AM (#47382429)

    It all strikes down to why law can be so complicated. When done right, laws are subtle things.

    Ideally we'd like a "right to be forgotten" that means when I ask Facebook to delete my account, then by delete I mean "not a single bit of my accounts data remains". What we DONT want however is if I go raping or beating people I can get news articles about me supressed. Distilling those distinctions into laws however can end up quite tricky because of all the edge cases.

    That requires legal expertise, and unfortunatlely whatever law results is going to be complicated and full of edge cases.

    Which, of course means nobody is going to understand the bloody thing.

  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:34AM (#47382497) Journal

    I think the big problem here is that Google are expected to be the judge, jury and executioner and are getting smacked down when someone thinks they made the wrong judgement call. This stuff should be going to an independent judge instead of expecting Google to uphold a new law that has a fairly vague scope.

    Yeah, that would work.

    The article states that Google alone is getting over 1000 requests per day. How many other companies are getting requests, and at what rate?

    While it would be ideal for some humans to look at the tens of thousands of requests made daily and carefully judge the merits of the request, it won't happen.

    It won't happen for the same reason real people don't look at the DMCA takedown lists.

    There are too many, and it is easier to just automate the system than to validate that every single line item is an actually infringing item. It won't take long before the requests become fully automated much like the DMCA lists are. People will download a simple tool that scours the interwebz for your name, then submits takedown requests for every match. There will be many incorrect matches made as the plebeian masses use the simple automated tools.

  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:54AM (#47382717)

    Wrong, at least at the moment. You can turn off the google national redirect by simply appending "/ncr" to the url, i.e. [] will take you to the USA site even if you are in Europe. However whether Google is forced to take that option away given some of these stupid EU and national court rulings is another matter.

"Well, social relevance is a schtick, like mysteries, social relevance, science fiction..." -- Art Spiegelman