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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:5, Interesting)

    by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @05:52AM (#47382361) Journal

    ...but that's exactly what the ruling does. The original case was a businessman objecting to Google links to newpaper stories about his life.

    The whole concept of the law applying to everybody is surprising sometimes. ;-)

    Anybody can request that data about themselves can be deleted. The law also allows links to be removed. The business can comply, or claim they have a reason outlined in the law, such as a business need for record keeping. If they fight it the person can fight it through the courts. If enough people fight it the company will suffer the pains of thousands of lawsuits.

    While the news stories themselves can remain under the terms of the law, it is no surprise that people absolutely will try to make things hard to find. That's the entire point of the law. It applies to not just convicted criminals but also to politicians and prominent figures. ANYBODY can request that data be deleted under the terms of the law.

    The law is to allow things to fade from the collective memory and makes it difficult for them to be found.

    Removing the link to unsavory things IS the purpose. This IS what the law was designed for.

    The expressed right to be forgotten includes forgetting about news stories.

    I suppose next people will be upset when links to all negative stories related to upcoming politicians will suddenly vanish under the requests.

  • A good idea, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigalzzz ( 2692893 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @05:58AM (#47382389)
    Whilst it's a good idea for most people to be able to hide some embarrassing stuff about them, sadly it can be used to hide information that should be public. For example I know of someone who owes me a considerable amount of money, and several others. He deliberately ran up the debt with no intention of paying. Whilst trying to find information about him the other day Google showed that it has hidden a results because of the right to be forgotten. I know that he's done this so he can get out there and con more people with less chance of being found.
  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:14AM (#47382443)

    in this particular case, the guy the article was about didn't make the 'forgetme' request, it was some Joe Schmoe who was objecting to a comment he posted in the comment section under it.

    I don't know if the guy's comment is irrelevant now, I doubt it as it was just some feeble comment he wrote - not an article directly about that user. It could be he wrote something he is now embarrassed about, but more likely it is just some dick who wanted to try the system out.

  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Friday July 04, 2014 @06:50AM (#47382545)

    Yeah, the big practical problem with this decision is that it requires case-by-case analysis, which is probably impractical at Google's scale. This particular case is really pretty clear-cut: it's the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, and it's a story about his CEOship. If Google did case-by-case analysis, it would be easy to reject this takedown request as easily within the scope of the "public role" exception. However they probably (for understandable reasons) don't want to do that kind of case-by-case decision making.

  • Re:Well, duh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:14AM (#47382619) Homepage Journal

    And yet, that is completely and utterly irrelevant because either way, the public interest is harmed, not served, by permitting someone to hide facts. That will never make the world a better place.

    In Europe we aim to rehabilitate people who made mistakes. People who make financial mistakes, broke the law or just generally did something stupid in public are given the opportunity to move past those mistakes and have them forgotten. The law enforces that to a reasonable degree - it can't erase old newspaper articles, but it does allow a person not to mention certain criminal convictions or hide historic bankruptcies from the bank after a period of time.

    I understand it is different in the US. Criminals in particular are branded for life, no matter what their crime or what kind of life they live after being punished. We don't do that here, and consider it in the public interest to give people these opportunities so that they can be productive members of society again.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Friday July 04, 2014 @07:24AM (#47382643) Homepage Journal

    I had an issue with a comment I wrote on the BBC site years ago. Due to the way the page was laid out when you googled my name the snippet they displayed from the BBC site had some other person's vaguely racist and childishly simplistic comment next to my name. I contacted Google and they said contact the BBC. I contacted the BBC and didn't get a response, but about six months later the page was taken down. I didn't really want a complete take-down, just a fix for their layout.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982