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Google Loses 'Right To Be Forgotten' Case (bbc.com) 160

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a High Court action against Google. BBC reports: The man, who has not been named due to reporting restrictions surrounding the case, wanted search results about a past crime he had committed removed from the search engine. The judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, ruled in his favour on Friday. But he rejected a separate claim made by another businessman who had committed a more serious crime. The businessman who won his case was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. He spent six months in jail. The other businessman, who lost his case, was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely. He spent four years in jail.
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Google Loses 'Right To Be Forgotten' Case

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  • So the public records from the case shall be purged from the microfiche archives of all public libraries.
  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:11AM (#56430807)
    The guy committed a crime. He served time, repaid his debt to society. Shouldn't he have, then, the right not to be marked as a criminal forever, in front of the world eyes?
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:19AM (#56430847) Journal
      Are the records public elsewhere? If he is public in legal system, then no. Google should not be forced to do this.
      • news paper (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:47AM (#56431077) Homepage

        yeah, putting this into practice would mean tracking and burning every single copy of every single newspaper that happened to report on the case, etc.

        not gonna happen.
        the guy should learn to deal with the fact that his name can be associated with the case forever (just maybe not on google).
        but potential future employer/business partners/etc need also to learn that it stupid to count on such old information, the gus havinv served their time and paid your due to society.

        • Even after paying your dues with prison time you leave marked as a felon. There are some cases where it can be expunged so that it will not show up on a background check.

      • Because it's as easy to search hardcopy back issues of newspapers as to type a request into Google?

    • by EndlessNameless ( 673105 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:24AM (#56430895)

      That's not the real problem. This is the real problem:

      "But he rejected a separate claim made by another businessman who had committed a more serious crime."

      Google doesn't know what it needs to purge. That means a case-by-case review on every request, a potential law suit if the requester doesn't like their response, and potentially legal penalties on top of that when they're wrong.

      The EU needs to make this simpler. They need to create a clear set of guidelines for what types of information must be "forgotten" and how a person can invoke their right.

      • Google doesn't know what it needs to purge

        Google doesn't have to know. Everyone should be entitled no to be searchable from a search engine.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          On behalf of all the serial rapists around the world, I applaud your support four our desire to hide our past transgressions so that we can more easily get access to dating sites and hookup apps.

          • That's not the point. Serial rapist are (hoepfully) an exception. It became so easy to know anything about anyone, everyone should have the right to opt out. Simple as that.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              WHY. What right do you have to force me to not find out about you? FICO scores, credit scores, bankruptcies. Or is it that only certain groups, i.e. big corp, should know this information? Or is it that you want to make a quick buck and if someone wants to know, pay you for your monopoly control of PUBLIC information?
              Disgusting corporate big shill.

              • I'd argue that it should be harder for EVERYONE, including Big Corp, to know this information.
                • by Anonymous Coward

                  There is some irony here with the poster arguing for making it easier to find out information about people posting as anon. Why don't you lead by example, you silly twat?

                  • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                    There is some irony here with the poster arguing for making it easier to find out information about people posting as anon. Why don't you lead by example, you silly twat?

                    He's not arguing for David Brin's Transparent Society. He's arguing that public records should be legally searchable. That has nothing to do with what details he voluntarily made public.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Um ... is it "everyone should have the right to opt out", or "everyone except serial rapists should have the right to opt out"?

              Because if you go from an absolute "everyone" to "everyone except X", now you have the difficulty of figuring out what is or is not in X (and who gets to decide).

              Sure, you might say serial rapists are "obviously" an exception, but what is it about serial rapists that make them an exception? Do regular (non-serial) rapists get included in that exception or not? Do people who have co

          • No need. Rapists and other degenerates learn that they can join a church and have a 16 year old girl all but betrothed to them. There are plenty of these cults/sects in America such as Jehovah's Witnesses that forbid their members from talking about the past of others. If they have an incident at one church they can move to another...and guess what...no one is allowed to talk about what happened at the last church.

            • I think you have confused the Jehovah Witnesses with some imaginary boogeyman of your own mind's creation. But, hey, I'll call one up and ask to be sure.

          • On behalf of all the serial rapists around the world, I applaud your support four our desire to hide our past transgressions so that we can more easily get access to dating sites and hookup apps.

            That's the stupidest reach to whatabautism I've seen in a long time. Unless you live in a 3rd world country where computerized public records do not exist, you shouldn't have to depend on fucking google to know check who has been indicted, sentenced and imprisoned for a crime (specially one so serious as sexually-related crimes.)

            And to use your own argument against you, take the hypothetical case (with actual incidents) of people in their 18's or 19's having sex with their 17 year old girlfriends, hookups

        • Everyone should be entitled no to be searchable from a search engine.

          I would really like to see you give some justification (or support) for this assertion.

        • Everyone should be entitled no to be searchable from a search engine.

          The search engine is only exposing information that is available elsewhere. Maybe the law should state that search engines are exempt, and you must correct or remove bad information from the source.

          What happens when John Smith in AZ wants to be searchable and John Smith in IL doesn't? How does a search engine know which sources refer to which person?

          What about that arrest report in the Las Vegas newspaper---which John Smith was that? It didn't include enough personal information, so it could apply to 143 di

      • From the article: Explaining the decisions made on Friday, the judge said one of the men had continued to "mislead the public" while the other had "shown remorse".
        Btw: this was a case following precedents (sp?) and not any EU law. Not sure if we have meanwhile an EU wide law regarding that.
        Anyway if the brexit continues it wont be relevant for the UK :)

        However I hope they find a way to reconsider and stay in the EU.

      • The EU needs to make this simpler. They need to create a clear set of guidelines for what types of information must be "forgotten" and how a person can invoke their right.

        Those two sentences in conjunction made me chuckle. It is right now in its simplest form. Any rules the EU puts in won't stop the need for human review, and won't stop lawsuits. It will just make them more predictable. But you don't need the EU to do that. As you can see the case law is starting to define it already.

        Basically you can't make clear guidelines on this without it becoming insanely complicated.

      • > The EU needs to make this simpler. They need to
        > create a clear set of guidelines for what types of
        > information must be "forgotten" and how a person
        > can invoke their right.

        No. What they need to do is:

        1) Take these matters up at the source, rather than shooting the messenger (Google). If some content is libelous, proven defamatory, or otherwise illegal; sue and remove it at the SOURCE. Once the illegal content is removed, it will automatically fall out of the index the next time that site

        • Take these matters up at the source, rather than shooting the messenger (Google).

          If dozens or hundreds of sites posted information, it may be easier to cull it from the top search engines than from each source. The source may also be anonymous, unreachable, or outside of jurisdiction.

          Stop trying to export their laws outside their own borders

          The US is a chief "offender" here.

          We're spreading our copyright regime all over the world with TPP. We are detaining foreign nationals at Guantanamo Bay who never set foot on American soil before their detention. We have conducted military operations in Syria and other nations without the consent of the rel

          • > Otherwise, we need to accept that this is reasonable
            > to some extent

            No, it's not reasonable and we should not accept it. I'm not at all in favor of the US forcing it's laws on people outside its borders either... not even against total douchebags like Julian Assange or Kim Dotcom. But the offense at hand, in this story and discussion, is from Europe. So I felt no particular need to go off topic.

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            The US is a chief "offender" here.

            We're spreading our copyright regime all over the world with TPP.

            And I agree that the TPP is an atrocity that deserves to be relegated to the ashbin of history. However, the TPP and other agreements like this are voluntarily entered into by other countries. Those then become other countries' laws and are not specifically "American" laws. Indeed, they are pushed for by trans-national corporations who, while having a strong presence in the US, have a very strong presence in many countries and lobby for laws and agreements there.

            The US has not recognized Europe's Right To B

      • Then google gets in the business of verifying people so they can assign ownership to the data and allow them to purge what they like.

    • But he's asking that we delete public history which is absurd. If the courts wanted it sealed they had that option. Part of his sentence was his conviction be public for all to see forever. I'd have a little more sympathy if this crime happened 30 years ago before the internet, but this is 10 years ago, anyone that committed a crime then should expect they could be on the internet as a criminal.
      • But he's asking that we delete public history which is absurd. If the courts wanted it sealed they had that option. Part of his sentence was his conviction be public for all to see forever. I'd have a little more sympathy if this crime happened 30 years ago before the internet, but this is 10 years ago, anyone that committed a crime then should expect they could be on the internet as a criminal.

        And what about mistakes and fake news. The procedure to be forgotten should much easier, for anyone.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@@@nerdflat...com> on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:32AM (#56430959) Journal

      Of course, but that shouldn't give him the right to effectively remove any remaining evidence that the event ever happened in the first place.

      The fundamental problem with the "right to be forgotten" bullshit is that it is an attempt to legislate what people are allowed to think about by censoring their access to information that will enable them to think about those things. It certainly isn't fair that society might judge a person who has adequately repaid his debt to society, but I would argue that it is far *LESS* fair to try and dictate what other people are allowed to believe or think about somebody else, even if those thoughts happen to be themselves, unfair.

      • Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, in the UK lesser offences are indeed 'forgotten' in many important respects after a period of time (they become 'spent'). For example, it's illegal for most employers to ask about spent offences, and the offenders have the support of the law in lying about them if they are asked anyway. I don't see that this is particularly out of step with that principle.
        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          I wasnt arguing about what is legal, I was arguing about what is right.

          The entire "right to be forgotten" notion is predicated on the idea that one can somehow force people to treat each other more fairly when the powers that be limit the general public's access to information about the past that may predispose those people toward unfair beliefs and notions.

          Whether this idea is true or not is irrelevant. In a nutshell, it tries to control what people are allowed to think, and that is what is wrong, ev

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            In a nutshell, it tries to control what people are allowed to think

            Bollocks. You aren't allowed to see random people's medical records, is that trying to control what you think? No, it's protecting their privacy.

            This is no different.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by RazorSharp ( 1418697 )

      The guy committed a crime. He served time, repaid his debt to society. Shouldn't he have, then, the right not to be marked as a criminal forever, in front of the world eyes?

      That's the European attitude. Unfortunately, in the States, the exact opposite view is taken. People think they have a right to know who committed crimes so they can look up anyone who moves into the neighborhood, applies for a job, etc. Even if an individual gets his record expunged, the companies that do background checks don't delete/seal that record like the courts do.

      In the States, the ability to brand someone as a criminal forever has its origins in Jim Crow laws. It's one of the reasons that the Amer

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 )

        It gets worse. Sheriff's departments and police stations in the US often post arrest records to the Internet en masse, complete with mugshots. True, they often warn that arrest doesn't imply guilt, but the fact is that those records are likely indexed and sucked up by third party criminal record aggregators. Meaning that an arrest, even if someone is innocent, could mark someone for life on an employment background check.

        Cops tend not to be too bright with an extra helping of vindictiveness -- giving the

      • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:52AM (#56431113) Journal

        brand someone as a criminal forever has its origins in Jim Crow laws.

        This is patently false and borderline racist bullshit. NOT every thing is tied to "Jim Crow". Branding (literally, and figuratively) criminals goes WAY back further than 200 years, and isn't a particularly western phenomena either, as cultures around the world did it.

        Read a book or two outside your own worldview, and expand your insight and stop listening to the stupid professors who haven't taught you how to think.

      • In the States, the ability to brand someone as a criminal forever has its origins in Jim Crow laws. It's one of the reasons that the American South consists of large homogenous voting blocks (first it was Democrat, and since the Civil Rights Act it's been Republican). By making crime a scarlet letter, police, prosecutors, and the judiciary can target minorities and then enact voter disenfranchisement laws to keep them subjugated. This is why being "tough on crime" is a longstanding conservative agenda. It allows them to strip voting rights from their political enemies, maintain ghettos by limiting opportunities to African Americans (which maintains segregation), and provides them an excuse to maintain unequal hiring practices. This is why guys like Sessions are so adamantly against legalizing marijuana. Marijuana charges are the easiest way to get that scarlet letter on blacks and hippies.

        Are you saying that criminals are more likely to be Democrats? Perhaps the other way around: Democrats are more likely to be criminals?

        • Perhaps the other way around: Democrats are more likely to be criminals?

          That Democrats are more likely to be convicted of being criminals. Because most black people are Democrats, and black people face higher conviction rates. The higher conviction rates hold up even in areas where black and white people offend at similar rates (e.g. marijuana possession.)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        OH LORT. Dey good bois. Dey dindu nuffin. Dey needs to vote Democrat so we keep getting dem gibs.

    • Yes, he has a right not to be marked. One could also reasonably balance that against the right of people to do business with someone to know that the person has a questionable history. Moreover, even if you don't buy into that there's also a basic free speech right. And claiming that free speech which is about things which absolutely everyone agrees is truthful should be shut down because this person's desire not to be marked is a complete misweighing of priorities and basic values.
      • That's why the question "Do we trust the legal system?". If we do, the guy is supposed to serve due time proportional to his crime, enough to discourage him to commit another perjury.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nope. He broke the social contract. There are consequences.

    • Both names should be in this article. /. not being subject to eurotrash laws.

    • I would argue that this is likely newsworthy.

      If it was "conspiring to intercept communications", it's probably related to the scandal of the News International (Murdoch's empire) practice of "hacking" [listening using default passwords] famous people's emails.

    • So, any copy of a newspaper from the period needs to be destroyed as well? How about the actual court records?
    • The guy committed a crime. He served time, repaid his debt to society. Shouldn't he have, then, the right not to be marked as a criminal forever, in front of the world eyes?

      It's one thing to forgive someone's mistakes in the past and look at who they are today. That's not at all the same as hiding those past mistakes and pretending that they do not exist.

    • He has the right to not be marked as a criminal, and everyone else has the right to remember whatever they've observed.

      If the existence of memories of his crime is the same as him being marked as a criminal, I would call that an error on the part of the person who perceives/interprets the "mark."

      This seems to be a problem of us all being unforgiving assholes, but I think the cure (government asserting power over our own memories) is worse, from a human dignity standpoint.

  • The man, who has not been named due to reporting restrictions surrounding the case

    Thanks, I was utterly unable to sort through that logic ...

    "The court declared that JOHN JONES must be forgotten ... "

  • I can understand the intent that the court would like to have, but search engines are still completely idiotic. Does this person just get completed erased from the internet so that you can't even find their Linkdin page or something like that? I don't know if there's enough fine grained control to forget about only this person's crime instead of the person entirely or rather anyone bearing that person's name without a great deal of manual effort. Even that doesn't work as there's nothing to stop someone fro
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      Well, Google are playing too nicely here. They absolutely should return results to a search for this individual's name with "The UK High Court has ruled that we must not provide you with a result to your search query. Click here to execute this search on Bing"

      • Judge's typically don't like it when companies try to buck court orders in this way. I think a big "no results" would be just as telling. I suspect that defendant would be back in court complaining that no one can find him were that the case.
      • execute this search on Bing"

        Bing bashing. Again!

    • Does this person just get completed erased from the internet

      This is actually a brilliant idea. You want to be forgotten, fine, society doesn't know anything about you, you don't exist. Now, you've been forgotten.

      Unintended consequences are a great way to learn stupid lessons.

    • If Google fight in a court of law each time someone wants to be forgotten, and, say, they lose 50% of the lawsuits, the bill is going to be expensive...
    • Got news for ya: these "Western democracies" already filter the internet. An unfiltered internet is harmful and leads to negative outcomes. The Wise in the government know better than you and can make better decisions than you can. Best to let them decide.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:24AM (#56430897)

    The businessman who won his case was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. He spent six months in jail.

    Poor sumbitch did time for intercepting communications, yet I don't see anybody from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Doubleclick or CloudFlare in the slammer...

  • or better say, there is a marked advantage in the business world to being willing to lie, cheat, and manipulate. It's a godsend for psychopaths.

    That said, I would much rather deal with a honest businessman.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @10:30AM (#56430947) Journal

    ....is an Orwellian "Right to Erase History" cloaked (barely) in a postmodern "protect my feelings" camouflage.

    it is one of the most pernicious and evil pieces of government legislation in human history - to assert that people have a RIGHT to employ the forces of law to rewrite what are known facts in favor of (empty set).

    Unbelievable. The philosophers of the Enlightenment are spinning in their graves.

    • Maybe Orwell wanted to be forgotten, also.
    • Wrong. Orwell would support this, at least in the US, if not Europe. Read 1984.

      Winston Smith was basically an "unperson" after he was tortured, made to denounce Julia, and released. How many "unpeople" do we make in the US, by virtue of arrest records (without conviction)? How many do we make by convicting people of crimes that should be treated medically or ignored (e.g. drug possession), then branding them for life. Short of someone committing murder, gross mayhem, abuse, or repeated large thefts, I'

  • Just the search results. Two different matters.

    Of course, those same records might also be indexed for other person involved.

  • Now, I'm not familiar with the details of UK law. But on this side of the pond, that sort of court decision creates a public record. Are the UK courts now saying that this guy can order Google to remove a pointer to the record, but one can still go down to the courthouse and locate the original record in a filing cabinet somewhere?

    • That's as it should be. The records can be in a filing cabinet at the court, but it makes finding the record more expensive (time and money-wise) than just pointing and clicking.
      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        The records can be in a filing cabinet at the court

        So the people who can afford it can pay a few clerks to go to the court once a week and compile a list of court decisions for their own 'private' database. For sale to whomever has the funds. This is how things were done for decades before the Internet.

        You now can go on line and request credit, employment and criminal records from these databases. Reports will cost you, sometimes $50 or so. Often, the top page says click here to view Joe Blow's criminal history. Then they hit you up for funds. And it ends

        • Hire a programmer to scrape data from multiple police and court sites -- a few thousand dollars, one time fee. Hire someone to drive around to different courts, xerox records, then type them into a database, say $100 per week for every small town with a sheriff's office. It adds up very quickly -- the point is to make it more expensive and inconvenient to gather incriminating records on people.
    • Without any special reason, e.g. a new ongoing investigation, you have no access to forgotten/expired cases.

  • Once something appears on the web you can bet it is stored in numerous places on numerous devices. There is simply no way to erase it everywhere. Yes, a large site might be able to get rid of their copy but it can keep popping up forever. Next we come to another problem. Can any nation regulate the content of the web all over the world? Should we give a fig over what content is illegal in Turkey or France or Nepal? In a free speech nation can we be muzzled by some other nations laws?
    • Sort of. Let's say that a nation passes a law that criminal records are sealed 10 years after conviction or that arrest records without conviction are private. Both decent laws. Now, a certain jurisdiction has the nasty habit of releasing those records to public search in order to get around this restriction. This will open them up to lawsuits as a complicit party, after being slapped with a few lawsuits, they might change their nasty habits.
  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @11:14AM (#56431333)
    ... that in the UK, there is a law on the Statute, the "Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, 1974", which allows for past crimes to be "forgotten" when the convicted criminal has both served time adjudged and shown - through a period of time in which no relapses have taken place - that they have put their criminal past behind them.

    Although I don't know the specifics of the case in question, the argument offered by the former convict seems quite compelling: they have served their time, paid their debt to society, and even have a law of the land there to back them up... only to have this undermined by a web search engine.

    This doesn't in any way suggest that Google or Bing or Duck Duck Go would be deliberately flouting such laws, merely that the internet has a long memory.

    However, there are some interesting aspects to this. For example, Google is just an indexing system; it's possible that a search will merely find references to old newspaper articles covering the story of a conviction and sentencing for a crime long past. This takes us back on to the circular treadmill of the argument used when discussing things like bittorrent and P2P file sharing sites - is a search engine breaking the law for pointing at pirated content? Is a search engine breaking the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act for pointing to articles covering long-paid-for crimes?

    One of the most difficult adjustments that we're having to make as an "internet society" is the fact that the internet never forgets. As aspects of the digital realm form such embedded parts of our lives, the way that the internet functions [with things like data retention] is going to become only more important, only more sensitive.

    In this particular case I wonder if the plaintiff - the former criminal - was interested merely in removing the conviction from search engines, or in reminding content publishers of their obligations under the same law? It's obvious why the plaintiff would target Google - the engine acts like a gateway and aggregator to the content, but Google will only spider and index what is already there. What about the ultimate publishers?

    No easy answers here...
    • So who is combing through the libraries in the UK burning old newspapers? There must be limits to this. What are they? It's one thing to enforce this specifically for a company doing criminal background searches, but entirely different for a general search engine like google.
      • by ytene ( 4376651 )
        You've asked the $64,000,000 question.

        Let's consider the two examples of both a collection of paper newspapers [for example in a library or museum or similar archive] and those of an on-line web site.

        Let's also consider that a case has been brought by a former [and reformed] convict, seeking to have their criminal past erased via the "right to be forgotten".

        Does the "right to be forgotten" apply only to the digital realm, or to the record of criminal past regardless of where it is lodged?

        What ab
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Friday April 13, 2018 @11:20AM (#56431375) Homepage Journal

    (Yes, I know, this case was in London, where there is no Constitution, much less the Bill of Rights. That's irrelevant to my point.)

    If, as we've held for decades [theatlantic.com], the First Amendment protects the right to publish even state secrets — however illegal their divulging by the original sources may have been — it certainly covers the right to publish everything and anything else one knows and has not promised not to divulge.

  • When I read about the "right to be forgotten", I always think about "Mark David Chapman". Should be forgot about him too, should we delete his wikipedia page and just say "someone" shot John Lennon ?

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.

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