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UK MPs Threaten New Laws If Google Won't Censor Search 154

Posted by timothy
from the bittorrent-in-congress-means-us-is-next dept.
It's not just Japan that wants to regulate how Google displays search results: judgecorp writes "A committee of British MPs and peers has asked Google to censor search results to protect privacy and threatened to put forward new laws that would force it to do so, if Google fails to comply. The case relates to events such as former Formula One boss Max Mosley's legal bid to prevent Google linking to illegally obtained images of himself."
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UK MPs Threaten New Laws If Google Won't Censor Search

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  • "Gossip" Flag? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:51AM (#39483417) Homepage Journal

    The search engines from Google and elsewhere already flag sites that are "spam" or which host "malicious content."

    Maybe they need to add a "gossip" flag as well.

    Unfortunately there would be no shortage of lawsuits from "entertainment magazines" if they did so.

    And that's really the crux of the problem. If Google capitulates to people who want their search results censored, it's just a matter of time before the censored sites sue Google for the censorship.

    So really Google has a choice between being sued by the censors for not complying, or sued by the censored for complying. Either way, someone expects to be paid for doing nothing useful to society, as is always the case when there is a "big money" company or business involved in the equation.

    The UK is free to block Google entirely if they so choose. And good riddance to them, the Chinese, and every other nation that thinks their censorship laws trump the free access of an international resource.

    • Re:"Gossip" Flag? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by samjam (256347) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:00AM (#39483481) Homepage Journal

      "If Google capitulates to people who want their search results censored"

      I think you meant:

      If Google capitulates to people who want MY search results censored

    • by msobkow (48369)

      It's pretty obvious why Google opts not to do the censorship. There's only one person or company to sue them in that case.

      But if they comply with the censorship demands, they're open to dozens or hundreds of lawsuits from everyone who has been censored.

      It's simple math in the end: The potential expense of one lawsuit is always less than the potential expense of hundreds of lawsuits.

    • Please don't hate on the UK because some of our politicians are assclowns. This has zero chance of becoming UK law.
      • Please don't hate on the UK because some of our politicians are assclowns.

        I was going to say the same with regards to the United States and our politicians here, but then I looked at our federal and state governments and realized everyone's an assclown.

        This has zero chance of becoming UK law.

        I hope so. But over the last several years it's seemed most shitty law proposals in Western countries have become either laws outright or "policies" of some sort.

        • Please don't hate on the UK because some of our politicians are assclowns.

          I was going to say the same with regards to the United States and our politicians here, but then I looked at our federal and state governments and realized everyone's an assclown.

          Now now. That's a bit of an overexaggeration. Not everyone is an assclown.

          Some are asshats; some are assmuppets; some are assnuggets, and some are assmonkeys.

      • Unfortunately, not becoming law is a new trick that the last government learned can be very effective. See the Internet Watch Foundation for an example. There is no law requiring ISPs to use their blacklists (which, in the past, has included things like random Wikipedia pages), but the major ISPs were told that there would be such a law with some nasty penalties for them if they did not voluntarily start using it. If you complain about it to your MP, you get a form letter back telling you that the IWF is
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I don't see how you could win a suit for being censored. Google has no obligation to publish anything about anyone. Censoring results that look too much like advertising but aren't paid for would be good for their bottom line.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      In the Max Mosley case the pictures were illegally obtained and possibly violated his human rights (in the EU a person has the right to a private life). If that is the case then it would seem that Google has a legal obligation to remove illegal images.

      I'm not saying that the law is necessarily right to deem these images illegal, but if they are then Google, like any other company, has to comply with the law.

      • Re:"Gossip" Flag? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by demonbug (309515) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @10:36AM (#39484963) Journal

        In the Max Mosley case the pictures were illegally obtained and possibly violated his human rights (in the EU a person has the right to a private life). If that is the case then it would seem that Google has a legal obligation to remove illegal images.

        I'm not saying that the law is necessarily right to deem these images illegal, but if they are then Google, like any other company, has to comply with the law.

        Google isn't hosting the images. Wouldn't it make more sense to go after the people who are hosting the images and/or put them up in the first place? I realize that Google is a big foreign company, but that doesn't mean they should take over law enforcement responsibility just because the EU/UK can't be arsed to track down the actual offenders. "I saw it in a Google search, so it must be their responsibility." It seems that it is getting to the point where Google needs to put disclaimers on all search results pages for the small minds in the British and EU parliament - something like, "Google is not responsible for the content of outside websites linked in our search results, you twit!"

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Google is an EU company, it has subsidiaries in all EU countries and is governed by EU law when operating here.

          The fact that Google doesn't host the images just means that they are treated the same as a telephone company or ISP carrying the data. If notified that certain images are illegal they must remove them. While I'm hesitant to mention child pornography it is a good example of where Google might unknowingly include illegal images in its search results and be legally obliged to remove them when informe

    • by qbast (1265706)
      Or maybe they need a 'moron' flag and add it whenever one of those MPs is mentioned in search results.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:52AM (#39483425)

    It's that Max Mosley doesn't want people to know that in private he enjoys orgies while dressed as a Nazi.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      Wouldn't Godwins Law cover that?

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Isn't that reasonable though? I don't want the world knowing about any of my fetishes either.

      The behaviour may seem a little strange perhaps, but it's pretty harmless. The only harm is that it may upset certain groups who were persecuted by the Nazis, which means that not telling anyone about it reduces that harm considerably.
      • by jdgeorge (18767) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:57AM (#39483987)

        The point is, the law already covers this. The defamation is done by the people who post the content, not by Google failing to censor its search results. The people who are posting the content should be sued, not the owner of the wall where they posted the pictures.

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          No, the people who made the pictures available in the first place should be sued for breach of privacy. After it's out in the wild it should be fair game for everyone to repost. Defamation only applies when the statement in question is untrue.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        Isn't that reasonable though? I don't want the world knowing about any of my fetishes either.

        Do some research on who Max Moseley's father was.

      • by Aryden (1872756)

        Isn't that reasonable though? I don't want the world knowing about any of my fetishes either.

        Then don't allow cameras in when you are enjoying yourself.

    • no, he enjoys dressing up like barbara streisand

      making this a rare case of a double streisand effect

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      Holy crap. I thought you were joking until I googled the guy. He probably should have researched teh Streisand Effect before trying to pull this nonsense off.
  • Fuck you, MPs. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:52AM (#39483429)

    Why should Google have to censor its search results? All Google is doing is indexing and displaying stuff that's already on the internet. It should be the people who posted it that have to take it down, not Google. Trying to censor Google, for whatever reason, completely undermines one of the things that makes the internet as brilliant as it is.

    • by andrewbaldwin (442273) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:09AM (#39483545)

      First off - this is a report by MPs - not even on the first step of becoming law - despite somewhat hyperbolic reporting.

      Second - it clearly states that a free press / freedom of speech are paramount

      Third - the only "Censoring" of Google etc. is a requirement to follow the terms of a court order - in the UK the courts are separate and distinct from the government.

      Exec summary pasted below [from a PDF document - hence some formatting funnies]

      A strong, free and vibrant press is essential to the good operation of democracy. Over the past 12 months, the culture and activities of the UK media have become the focus of widespread public concern, particularly in light of the phone hacking scandal. The balance between privacy and freedom of expression is at the heart of these debates about the role of the media.
      We have considered how this balance should be struck, who should determine where the balance lies and how decisions, once taken, can be enforced. In making recommendations, we have been guided by the followingâ"
      â The fundamental right to freedom of expression lies at the heart of this debate.
      â The right to privacy is equally important. It is universal and can only be breached if there is a public interest in doing so.
      â Although definitions of public interest change from time to time, an over-arching definition of public interest is the peopleâ(TM)s general welfare and well being; something in which the populace as a whole has a stake. It is not the same as that which is of interest to the public.
      â We support the freedom of the press. The vitality of national and local media, in all its forms, is essential to the good operation of democracy.
      â The rule of law in protecting the right to privacy should be upheld by all. If a judge has made a decision, based on hearing the full evidence in a case, that decision should be respected by those who have not heard all the evidence.
      â Justice should be accessible to all. Protection of the right to privacy should not be available only to the wealthy few.
      â The Press Complaints Commission was not equipped to deal with systemic and illegal invasions of privacy. A strong, independent media regulator is essential to balance the competing rights of privacy and freedom of expression.
      â The law must apply equally to all forms of media: print, broadcast and online.
      It is important that privacy injunctions are obtained in circumstances which justify the intervention of the law; injunctions should not be too freely or easily obtainable. Departures from the principle of open justice should be exceptional. We believe that courts are now striking a better balance when dealing with applications for privacy injunctions.
      We conclude that a privacy statute would not clarify the law. The concepts of privacy and the public interest are not set in stone, and evolve over time. We conclude that the current approach, where judges balance the evidence and make a judgment on a case-by-case basis, provides the best mechanism for balancing article 8 and article 10 rights.
      Interim injunctions granted in one of the legal jurisdictions in the United Kingdom should be enforceable in the other two UK jurisdictions in the same way as final injunctions are.
      It is important that court orders apply to all forms of media equally. The growth of the internet and social networking platforms is a positive development for freedom
      of of expression, but new media cannot be seen to be outside the reach of the law. We recommend that the courts should be proactive in directing the claimant to serve notice on social networking platforms and major web publishers when granting injunctions. We also recommend that major corporations, such as Google, take practical steps to limit the potential for breaches of court orders through use of their products and, if they fail to do so, legislation should be introduced to force them to. An effective deterrent against future breaches of injunctions onli

      • [I]n the UK the courts are separate and distinct from the government.

        Then how are the courts funded? How are their orders enforced or, rather, by whom? I'm not trolling, and I'm sorry if I come off as if I were, but could you explain how UK courts are "separate and distinct"? Unless you meant that they're their own branch of government, separate and distinct from Parliament, in which case I wish to strike my first three sentences of this post from the record.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Second - it clearly states that a free press / freedom of speech are paramount

        Oh well then. Nothing to worry about. If they say they'll respect freedom of speech, that's all I need. It's not like they're going to lie to us, right?

        • It's kinda like saying "no offense" right after you insult someone.

          Freedom of speech is important, but we should sensor the internet

          Is the equivalent of:

          Your mother's a whore, no offense.

          • by xelah (176252)

            'X is important' is not the same as 'everything else is less important than X'. Even in the US freedom of speech is not absolute. The US is quite extreme in some respects, but it still has libel laws, and copyright laws, and restrictions on TV and cinema (sex, violence, etc), and laws against inciting violence and suchlike. In the EU a private life is also a right. It isn't an absolute right, but the balance compared to freedom of speech is not the same in the US.

            A lot of commenters from the US seem to assu

            • That's a very insightful comment. I hadn't considered that position before. If I could transfer my +1 mod to you I would, as you have the more thought out comment.

      • by demonbug (309515)

        We also recommend that major corporations, such as Google, take practical steps to limit the potential for breaches of court orders through use of their products and, if they fail to do so, legislation should be introduced to force them to.

        Basically, "Major corporations (especially foreign ones) have lots of money, so even though it doesn't make any sense they should undertake law enforcement so we don't have to. If they choose not to enforce our laws for us, we will introduce legislation to force them to do so."

        Great that it isn't a law, but it is pretty clear that it is their intent to make it one if Google doesn't agree to self-censor their results.

  • Where corporations are, often, more powerful than old-school, sovereign nation-states.
    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Google employs over 32,000 [google.com] people. Some of those old-school, sovereign nation-states (namely the Vatican City, Tuvalu, Nauru, San Marino, and Palau) have fewer [about.com].

      Considering the effects of a global economy, Google's business also affects the world more than many other countries who don't participate much in international trade.

  • too damn helpful really, that lame attempt to being intuitive is annoying and sometimes more of a hindrance than helpful
  • Mr Mosley (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot&spad,co,uk> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:53AM (#39483435) Homepage

    Max Mosley is an idiot; all he's doing with his legal action is drawing *more* attention to his Nazi-themed orgies and ensuring that, even if he's successful, instead of people finding stories and images about said orgies when they search for him, they'll find stories and images about him trying to censor the stories and images about said orgies.

    It's hard to claim it's a privacy issue when it's already in the public domain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lluc (703772)
      Of course, this has been known as the Streisand Effect [wikipedia.org] for almost 10 years now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Apps (21158)

      I think that it is more a matter of principal than the publicity
      He sued the News of the World who had to retract the Nazi claim
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosley_v_News_Group_Newspapers_Limited#The_Nazi_allegation [wikipedia.org]
      I even believe that they had to retract the orgy claim! (can't find the reference)

      But then went after them and exposed the phone hacking scandal which brought the newspaper down,
      This is still ongoing and more News Corp / Rupert Murdoch investigations are continuing.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M [wikipedia.org]

    • by mr_stark (242856)

      Max Mosley.... his Nazi-themed orgies

      That is exactly the reason why he is taking legal action. The whole Nazi themed bit was made up* by the News of the World to sell more news papers. Yet hear you are repeating it as if it were true. I'm no fan of MM - he may be a pervert but he's not a Nazi pervert.

      * http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/24_07_08mosleyvnewsgroup.pdf [bbc.co.uk]

      Page 54, section 232

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Indeed, as the judgement clearly showed, Max Mosely only commissioned a perfectly standard S&M incarceration scenario in which the use of German language, German accents and German uniforms was completely co-incidental.

        *WINK*.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      He knows this - and he is fully accepting that the cat is out of the bag (he talks about it openly in interviews, for example). What he's doing is "taking one for the rest of us" to put laws into place so that what happened to him (the exposure of his private life, captured during a time when an expectation of privacy was legitimate) can't easily happen to someone else.

      Now, this does seem like an exercise in trying to staple gun sand to the wall (witness the Ryan Giggs superinjunction debacle), but it certa

      • I don't think it's reasonable to expect privacy when you're such a notable person engaging in such ridiculous acts. Even without the (untrue) Nazi thing, five hookers doing an S&M "standard prison scenario" is really, really weird. I know sexuality is a private thing, but this is off the wall and he involved hookers--women who have sex for money. You think they have barriers, or traditional notions of honorable behavior? Cripes. The reasonable expectation is that at some point, those hookers are going t

        • Re:Mr Mosley (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @09:26AM (#39484279)

          He did get a bum rap. Plus, it's hardly good business sense for the hookers (or the business that manages them) - word gets around. You think they'll see repeat business from him or anyone connected to him?

          I see you're trying to bring patent trolls into this (for some reason?!) Slashdot seems to be *all about* privacy until someone actually tries to do something about it.

          Also, where do you get off judging his sexual preferences, claiming it somehow justifies what happened to him. So what? If he was just fucking them one at a time with the lights off, missionary style while the others waited their turn outside then it would be "less weird" and thus subject to more stringent privacy?

          His argument regarding the release of the information in a sleazy red top was that it was in no way "relevant" news to the wider public. This isn;t about whistleblowers, or patent trolls (?! again, wtf?!), or something like a politician running on an anti-gay platform getting caught with his cock up a guy's ass. It was a private (yet famous) person having their privacy violated to sell newspapers.

          • Hookers are very well known for being even more untrustworthy than waitresses. Losing repeat business due to a lack of discretion? Please. You think a bunch of people thinking with their dicks aren't going to fool themselves into thinking it couldn't happen to them, especially when the hookers are telling them it couldn't happen to them?

            I'm bringing patent trolls into it because it was the first example that came to mind of news we don't want to suppress. Feel free to substitute corrupt politicians or alien

        • Point of order sir. I have a number of friends who work in the adult services industry and they are certainly not the disease-ridden, duplicitious individuals you are generalising them to be.

          Nick

          • Oh, sorry, yeah of course your friends are the clean, responsible hookers with hearts of gold that would never steal a guy's wallet and run out when he leaves them alone in the room while he's taking a shit. I'm sure they have a lot to offer society, and they just choose to act as a warm wet hole to multiple strangers every day for money because it's what they always wanted to do with their lives. I bet they're all geniuses, and none of them have drug problems to pay for or severe psychological issues.

            Look,

            • because I've gone seeking first-hand experience and read hooker blogs ...

              Purely for intellectual, umm, stimulation. Yes?

  • Twitter user posts illegally obtained photos someone else, Google search results have Twitter in them, Google must remove Twitter from it's search results? That doesn't seem wildly excessive.
  • by Valacosa (863657) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @07:54AM (#39483441)
    Translation: Collecting, cross-referencing, and archiving personally-identifiable information is the job of the government.
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:02AM (#39483493) Homepage

    should block access from the UK and Japan for a week. Sure the stock price might take a brief hit but uncle with all this whiny BS. Let them go back to the internet stone age.

    • "Whiny BS" ? Do you mean the business of, in a democratically-governed country, making laws ?
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Still better than national governments making laws on the global Internet. I can influence Google by choosing not to use their services. I have no way of influencing the UK government.

    • And in retaliation, I would love for the UK and Japanese governments to seize local Google assets for eminent domain reasons, and create a Google (UK) public body.

      Google isn't above the law, and this entire story is about forcing Google to comply with a court order - if it doesn't, then it deserves punishment. If it retaliates against that punishment, then it deserves to, essentially, die a corporate death in the courts jurisdiction.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      And cut off their nose to spite their face? They'd have to give their advertisers a refund.

  • Google can fire people. Terminating someone's employment in hopes for creating a vacancy for someone with better performance is part of the capitalist system. It's unpleasant and difficult to do, but sports teams show the results when someone refuses to do it. The problem (having worked in government) is that there's no incentive for management to terminate anyone. Good people eventually leave the job, and the weak remain.

    The likelihood that dozens of governments can craft rules for the internet which

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      I was just thinking that Microsoft will likely shit a brick in its rush to volunteer to censor Bing in an attempt to have it mandated to (literally) tens or hundreds of millions of minions of repressive regimes (like China, the UK, USA...) around the world.

      Note carefully that volunteering to censor is not the same as censoring. All they have to do is make the claim, delivering on it is an entirely different issue.

  • by scotts13 (1371443) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:11AM (#39483571)

    I don't get people. You can have something that SEARCHES, or something that doesn't. Once you start censoring the search, the engine becomes, to a varying extent, a PR outlet - and useless. But each person or organization that doesn't want THEIR pet bugaboo found apparently assumes they're the only one with that right.

  • by RogueLeaderX (845092) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:17AM (#39483609)

    Cases like this show an understandable lack of understanding about how this technology works.

    As others have pointed out, going after an indexing service is pointless; however, I find it understandable. Google is the first point of contact to this content for millions of internet users. So, looking from the outside, I can understand how someone would confuse that with providing access to the content.

    I hope that Google's laywers are able to make courts in the UK and Japan understand their role in the internet ecosystem.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday March 27, 2012 @08:26AM (#39483667) Homepage Journal

    These laws sound like the worst thing ever until someone posts your credit record online, a nude picture of your daughter, or your copyrighted code that you worked on for ten years and hoped to sell to finance your retirement.

    Then, suddenly, they sound great.

    The UK has a point about protecting privacy. If any point of failure can overcome the Streisand effect, it's the search engines. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • by TheKnave (879982)

      Protecting privacy isn't the point. The point is that it's not Google's job to enforce the protection of your privacy - they're not hosting the breach - nor can Google stop what's happening on twitter / elsewhere on the web.

      If google implemented some sort of magical context understanding blocking filter the people who cared would simply look for that gossip hit elsewhere and post it on twitter / whatever.

      If anything this is more akin to the music industry insisting that ISPs should block what they want to

    • These laws sound like the worst thing ever until someone posts your credit record online, a nude picture of your daughter, or your copyrighted code that you worked on for ten years and hoped to sell to finance your retirement.

      Then, suddenly, they sound great.

      The UK has a point about protecting privacy. If any point of failure can overcome the Streisand effect, it's the search engines. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      That's exactly why these laws shouldn't exist. It's why the freedom of speech is explicitly called out in the US Bill of Rights--because it's such a clearly bad idea, but seems so reasonable when it's something you want to suppress. If I had my way, nobody would be allowed to talk about Justin Beiber or the cast of The Jersey Shore ever again. Luckily for them and their fans, I can't get my way.

      A big part of being a good person is making it impossible to be otherwise when you would be tempted to do something immoral. We (used to) have checks and balances encoded in our laws that are probably very inconvenient at times, but they were added with the foresight that simple restraint wouldn't be enough when times get tough. It's human nature.

      Another thing about human nature: I guaran-fucking-tee you, nothing can overcome the Streisand effect. It's practically a law of physics. It existed before the internet ever did, and will continue to exist for as long as people are interested in what other people are trying to hide. Bringing search engines into it will do nothing but whip people into an absolute frenzy to find out what's being hidden, and we'll just spawn or co-opt another communication channel. That news will get out.

    • Yes, because if I have a nude picture of my daughter, nobody else apart from me is going to masturbate to it!

    • by miltonw (892065)
      And, if you see black mold growing up your walls, just paint over it! "Can't see it, problem solved!"

      If "someone posts your credit record online, a nude picture of your daughter, or your copyrighted code that you worked on for ten years and hoped to sell to finance your retirement" how the hell does censoring Google change that in any significant way? Your credit record is still online, the pictures are still there, your code is still there.

      So one search engine or maybe all search engines are censor
  • I see Google as the white pages and yellow pages for the Internet:

    "I want the white pages to remove the phone numbers of convicted sex offenders, drug dealers, thieves and anyone else who has been convicted of anything." -- British Bloke

    "I want the white pages to remove the listings for anyone else who has the same name as me, because it confuses people trying to find me." -- Japanese Guy

    "We don't want you to list any of our businesses in the yellow pages." -- Authors Guild

  • This should be fun.
    I'll bring the popcorn.

  • Since he likes to dress as a Nazi, I'm going to call Grammar Nazi on

    "The case relates to events such as former Formula One boss Max Mosley's legal bid to prevent Google linking to illegally obtained images of himself."

    Please stop using the reflexive pronoun (himself) when you mean to use the object pronoun (him).

  • Globally laws and politicians works best for those who can buy their rights.

    US, EU, FR, RU, CN, Iran, Arabia ... you can buy your rights, but you have no rights.

    The more world governments change, the more they become the same; So, PTL and live with your masters of destiny.

  • My opinion is, that if a content (e.g. an image) is available at a location so that Google's crawlers can access it, then it's not Google who they should go after, but the one who made that image available and accessible. I'd say this is fairly plain and simple. People just don't usually get what a search engine does and how it works. A judge should just rule in such a case that the complaining people should read up on the subject and stop wasting other people's time.
    • by l3v1 (787564)
      As a sidenote, the above opinion stands for other content as well. Yes, I know it's a minefield, still.
  • I cannot believe that people still don't get it. Censoring Google's search results does nothing to correct bad data or remove embarrassing information. The data is still there. The only result would be that it is harder for a person to track down and correct the actual source of the data.

    If people were able to censor Google, Google will become useless and people will use another search engine. Result, data is still there, search engines can still find it. Nothing has changed.

    Stupid politicians!

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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