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EU Privacy Your Rights Online

No "Right To Be Forgotten," Says EU Advocate General 116

Posted by timothy
from the they'll-remember-you-said-that dept.
DW100 writes "A ruling this morning from the European Court of Justice has said that Google does not have to delete personal data from its search index, in a case that could have huge ramifications for web privacy and the so-called 'right to be forgotten.'" From the article: EU Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen "said Google and other search engines are not subject to privacy requirements under current European data protection law. 'Search engine service providers are not responsible, on the basis of the Data Protection Directive, for personal data appearing on web pages they process,' he said in his official ruling, published by the court. He went on to explain that based on current laws citizens do not have a right to be removed from search indexes within the framework of the Data Protection Directive. 'The Directive does not establish a general "right to be forgotten." Such a right cannot therefore be invoked against search engine service providers on the basis of the Directive,' he said."
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No "Right To Be Forgotten," Says EU Advocate General

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  • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@speakeasy3.14.net minus pi> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:31AM (#44099857) Homepage
    . . . .immediately think, ". . . all the better to data-mine you by. . . ."
    • by kthreadd (1558445) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:33AM (#44099875)

      If you don't want your data mined then you shouln't publish it in the first place.

      • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:37AM (#44099905)
        Yeah, and don't appear in any photos so people can't tag you on Facebook while you're at it. Most of your personal data out there was uploaded and maintained by someone else.
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Right, just as people may actually _mention_ you in conversation in real life without you giving consent. You do not have control over others. The internet isn't a magical place where different rules apply. Being terrified of having your picture on the internet is just a new twist on agoraphobia.

          • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:02AM (#44100659)

            The internet isn't a magical place where different rules apply.

            Well... Yes. Yes, it is.

            When someone mentions me in real life conversation, it's a private discussion, taking place between a small group of people, in a given place, at a given time, in isolation, and probably for their own personal reasons.

            When someone mentions me on the Internet, it's a public discussion, taking place in front of the entire world, accessible from anywhere in the world, archived for all eternity in a searchable format also accessible to the entire world, potentially correlated with any other data about me that is out there, for any purpose.

            Do you really not see that there are different implications and potential consequences to those two scenarios, and that maybe understanding and protection of privacy needs to evolve along with understanding and development of technology?

            • by higuita (129722)

              A private conversation creates a rumor about you that can be spread if its interesting (loose interpretation of the interest by each people).
              After some time you might have your "private" reference known by many people, doesn't matter if true or not. That is why is important to trust people before giving then personal information. After a rumor run lose, its very hard to stop it.

              Internet its the same thing. A reference in the net might be true or not, if its "interesting" enough, it will spread and be "store

        • by bickerdyke (670000) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:59AM (#44100089)

          Both wrong.

          You should make sure that you don't appear in a newspaper article. Even if there is something newsworthy.

          The original lawsuit was about an old newspaperarticle about a some Chapter 11 stuff still turning up when you searched for a name.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by gl4ss (559668)

            did the guy want library archives to be burnt too?

            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              Probably but he would only get lumped in with every left- and right-wing nutjob (extreme ends) wanting to burn everything they disagree with.

        • I've been wondering if there is a way to break the face tag feature, was curious what everyone else things. Basically the system as I understand it works by users tagging you in photos they take. If that step isn't done facebook has no way to know your face. So what would happen if you seed it with conflicting information. For example find a picture of some random model (or alternatively another person with a dislike of being tagged) and have as many friends as possible tag the individual as you. Repea
          • what would be nifty is a setting

            1 DO NOT ALLOW tagging
            2 I confirm all tags (somebody tries to tag you you get a time limited message)
            3 open tags (current action)

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Yes, you should control what other people get to do.
              That's great.

              • by Lithdren (605362)

                That's like arguing someone is allowed to punch you in the face without repercussion because you cant tell that other person what to do.

                When it comes to something that is directly related to self, you are perfectly able to tell someone else what to do. Yes, you can tag me in a photo, or no you cannot tag me in a photo.

                Rights to one self take presidence over someone else. You have the right to speak, I have the right to not listen. You have the right to protest, I have the right to counter-protest. You h

                • by kwbauer (1677400)

                  "You have the right to bear arms, I have the right to not allow your weapons in my store/on my property." That depends on which state you live in. Some states are hypocritical in saying that as a proprietor you have given up your first amendment right of assembly with like-minded individuals (by not allowing you to not associate with non-like-minded ones) but have granted you the right to discriminate based on the level of self-protection your customer wants to have. Other states are using the same legal ar

                • by Kjella (173770)

                  Rights to one self take presidence over someone else. You have the right to speak, I have the right to not listen.

                  But you've never had the right to control what people say about you to others. If that was the case we'd be casually breaking the law all the time every time we mentioned somebody else.

                  Cant really prevent someoen from them posting "check out this picture of me and X, Y and Z!" however, so the same problem will still exist, just not as easy to find (yet...)

                  And here's really the issue, tagging is more formal but in principle it's the same thing so to you want to make that posting illegal? Just saying it too?

                  No, I own my own memories and have the right to talk about them to others. If I see you cheating on your wife then I don't need your permission to tell her, if I saw an anti-

                  • by Lithdren (605362)

                    Way to read way further into it than I stand.

                    What i'm saying is I dont see how someone couldn't make a request to not be tagged in photos. This has nothing to do with jailing people for questioning Obama's heritage, that entire premis a massive straw man argument, that I would never make.

                    The entire premis of tagging a photograph is to make it easy to find specific people in a large array of pictures. That, in my mind, is an invasion of privacy that should be able to be opted out of. That said, i'd never

              • so those photos of you in the lilac leotard and tutu we got the last time you were drunk are good to post??

                i will give it 5 years at most before folks will be able to make near undetectable forges of photos.

                • i will give it 5 years at most before folks will be able to make near undetectable forges of photos.

                  Too late. The future is already here [psdisasters.com].

        • by Hentes (2461350)

          This is not America. You can't just publish a photo of someone without their consent.

          • by kwbauer (1677400)

            Really. If that were the case, then the whole thing behind this thread wouldn't exist as you wouldn't be asking Google to remove what someone else posted.

            And even in America that consent is required for commercial uses. News reporting and such are not considered commercial.

            I would argue that your acquaintances posting photos of you at a party (or wherever) is micro-journalism while still supporting limits such as bathroom, changing room, etc.

      • If you don't want your data mined then you shouln't publish it in the first place.

        That's all well and good. I don't publish that information. Many times it is the government that is publishing my information. Information which was previously available only by physically going to the records office and pulling up a specific record.

        Then, companies pull the data from those databases and create 'placeholder' websites in my name. I'm sure you have seen these sites if you ever googled your name. For my RL name, the first few links are relevant, a NY times article, a wedding announcement,

        • Then come literally thousands of sites which have scraped data on me from obituaries, home sale records, other people's unsecured social media postings.

          Emphasis mine.

          You might have something really important going on here. Care to tell us about it?

          • scraped data on me from obituaries

            Emphasis mine.

            You might have something really important going on here. Care to tell us about it?

            A search of my name will turn up the obituary for my wife's grandmother which lists me as a surviving relative.

          • If we learned nothing else from "The Highlander" TV series, it's that every 10-12 years, immortals need to appear to "die" so they can start over elsewhere and not be questioned about their appearing to never age...
            • If we learned nothing else from "The Highlander" TV series, it's that every 10-12 years, immortals need to appear to "die" so they can start over elsewhere and not be questioned about their appearing to never age...

              The worst part is memorizing a whole new set of passwords!

              I had to ditch three identities before I realized that they were tracking me based on my repeated use of Th3r3canB0nly1!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      google only tracks "meta data". you have nothing to worry about.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:55AM (#44100047) Journal

      nah, it's more reality. The whole "Right to be forgotten" in the EU was basically believing in a magical world that doesn't exist. If you de-list something, is it gone? Of course not. Should you be able to sue the daylights out of someone who dares host something about you, that you don't like? absolutely not.

      So while their approach is terrible (and implies basically that they're collecting data about you and won't let you ask that to be removed), the whole "right to be forgotten" is all but willingly pulling wool over your own eyes.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:27AM (#44100325) Homepage

        This isn't the Right to be Forgotten. The submitter is confused. The right to be forgotten only lets you delete your own account, not other people's.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:48AM (#44100523) Journal

        Europe has it all backwards. And it's made obvious by statements like this:

        He went on to explain that based on current laws citizens do not have a right to be removed from search indexes

        Rights are not based on current law. They exist independently of law (or not at all, that's a valid argument too), and current law either respects or violates that right. If someone were to say "based on current law citizens do not have the right to choose their own religion", it would be abundantly clear that "current law" is oppressive.

        Either the right to be forgotten exists or it does not. I'd suggest it does not, because it clearly conflicts with my own right to remember, and communicate.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @11:16AM (#44101603) Homepage

          The right to be forgotten only applies to commercial companies that keep data you gave them. Personal details, website accounts, photos you upload, that sort of thing. The right hasn't come in yet, but when it does we will be able to demand that data is deleted and the company must comply.

          If you write a blog post about someone you have nothing to worry about, they can't get it taken down with this right.

          • by poetmatt (793785)

            the problem is, demanding that data is deleted means *nothing*. Absolutely nothing. It could still be backed up (you can't exactly verify), or it could have been hosted somewhere. So they deleted the "public copy". And? Or the original of said photo, since it had to come from somewhere, still exists. that's not a right to forget. It's an attempt to imply you can demand something which you cannot enforce. That's not to say that companies shouldn't respect your privacy and/or a right for it, but that this is

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          Rights in Europe most definitely are based on current law AKA what the relevant government currently says you have. The notion of rights being endowed by a creator and an inalienable part of being alive never really caught on over there.

          Unfortunately, that notion is fast disappearing here in the States as well.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            Rights in Europe most definitely are based on current law AKA what the relevant government currently says you have

            That's the same thing as saying you have no rights. If you only have the rights that the government says you do, it is impossible for the government to violate your rights. We all know this to be false, because oppressive governments exist.

            Either rights exist, and they exist independently of the government, or they do not exist at all. The position Europe is trying to stake out is completely

  • by maroberts (15852) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:31AM (#44099861) Homepage Journal

    Now if only they'd stop messing too much with Google (apart from tax issues) and rescind the need for stupid "We're using cookies" splash screens then we'd all be happy Europhiles.

    • It's actually not that rare. Very frequently decisions and how they are communicated by the news and perceived by citizens are mismatched. Most recent examples: communal water, oil cans. That's why I always go back to the official released documents to look what they were actually saying. The EU has a communication problems with its base.

    • by theM_xl (760570)

      No. I'm pretty sure being a happy Europhile would require quite a few more things. Just minor ones, really, like stopping the complete waste of money that is the monthly transfer to Strassbourg, the rampant corruption, the GENERAL waste of money, curbing their drive to make large numbers of rules on just about any subject... Maybe even toning down on shouting how good a job they're doing while everyone can see the results of said job, and not liking those results at all.

      Though it might be that easy to be a

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I like the cookies warning. It has raised a lot of awareness among non-techies.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:43AM (#44099949) Homepage

    This is not the right to be forgotten, it is something completely different. The right to be forgotten means that you can ask Google to delete data you gave to it yourself, e.g. your Gmail account a G+ profile. It does not have anything to do with removing search results.

    • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:54AM (#44100037)
      In practice, lawsuits are filed when the data is displayed that causes loss of reputation. Thus the "Right to be Forgotten" is mainly going to be used in court to censor websites and search results.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        This is like saying that the right to privacy will be used in court to force roads to be painted orange. It makes no sense at all, the right to be forgotten does not offer the ability to censor random web sites or search results.

    • No. The right to be forgotten means that if there is a police record because you ran a red light when you were 19 (think Bill Gates) should not keep you from ever getting a job again, even if you're 45, well educated, grown up and responsible. Just because some old stuff (newspaper article, whatever) is NOT old and forgotten but turns up among the Top10 results when a HR manager googles your name during a job interview.

      We need either the right to be forgotten or a way to teach HR drones that people might ch

      • I promise you this: neither one will work; get used to it. Even if you could force Google to delist you, the background check agencies mirror the data to save expunged data and they will still run your credit report and other shit. Teaching the fools in HR? Might as well replace them with a bunch of fucking monkeys you trained to use sign language. They're a bunch of disgusting leaches who thrive on busy work and drown themselves in bureaucracy to avoid killing themselves when confronted with something that
        • Right.

          But I'd put those extensive background-checkers into the same bag with the Googleing HR-monkeys.

          Both seem to have difficulties discerning between past, present and future.

          • But I'd put those extensive background-checkers into the same bag with the Googleing HR-monkeys.

            I would then suggest tying that bag closed attaching a few bricks to it and dropping it off a bridge into a cold river.

        • by Elldallan (901501)
          If a law that would let you force Google to delist you or certain stuff then the same law could than likely be used to force those background check agencies to expunge certain data as well. Yes you would have to know about those background check agencies but if/once you do then you could serve them with the equivalent of a DMCA cease and desist letter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        No, that's absolutely not what it means. The right to be forgotten only applies to data you created yourself, not what other people wrote about you.

        The submitter of this article is confused and now so are you. The issue here has nothing to do with the right to be forgotten. In this case German law says that convictions should not be mentioned in the press once they are "spent", which most of the time means you did your time or paid your fine. Of course anyone could go to the library and scan back through ol

        • Here is a german article that explicitly connects todays expertise with the "right to be forgotten" and it IS about newspaper archives and Google and NOT about some self created facebook stuff.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Here is a BBC podcast on the subject of the Right to be Forgotten: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/law/law_20130625-1630a.mp3 [bbc.co.uk]

        Have a listen, it is informative. As you can see it has nothing to do with what you suggest.

    • Correct. This is correctly called "the right to be left alone".

      The most common citation in US law is Justice Brandeis' dissenting opinion in Olmstead v US [wikipedia.org], which, amusingly, is another case of wiretapping the court heard way back in 1914.

  • Explanaition (Score:5, Informative)

    by André Rebentisch (2962925) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:43AM (#44099951)
    The opinion of the Advocate General is a preliminary document, a recommendationn, not a ruling of the Court. A recommendation to the European Court that is often followed by the Court. Legal grounds is the current EU directive, a directive that is implemented in national laws and provides a level of minimum harmonisation across EU member states. There may be other legal grounds. Currently the entire EU data protection legislative framework is under reform.
    • by manu0601 (2221348)

      The opinion of the Advocate General is a preliminary document, a recommendationn, not a ruling of the Court. A recommendation to the European Court that is often followed by the Court. Legal grounds is the current EU directive

      Well, sometimes the legal ground is the own EU court opinion. Do you remember the Directive on services in the internal market?

      There was the question of what labor laws applies when a worker was sent from a country to another, Should minimal wage be enforced from laws of the worker's country or of the country where the work was done? Version submitted by the commission had a clause that allowed to use the worker's country law. The European parliament chose to remove that clause. Later the EU court decided t

  • Right To Remember (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:46AM (#44099977)
    We all have the right to remember things and discuss them. A "Right to be Forgotten" is an attack on the peoples freedom of thought. It is censorship used by the rich and powerful to hide their crimes. It is an attempt to avoid public shaming.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:55AM (#44100041) Homepage

      The right to be forgotten doesn't mean what you think it means.

      It won't allow you to have material about you removed from random web sites. All it does it allow you to delete your own account and data, and that is must really be deleted and not just marked as dormant like Facebook does.

    • This. I have a right to remember things you voluntarily and unasked told the entire planet.

      • But does that include your right to remember what OTHER people wrongly told the entire planet about me and hold it against me?

        • by jabuzz (182671)

          No but the data protection directive requires all personal data to be up to date and accurate. If the information is wrong then you would have recourse under the data protection directive to require data holders to correct wrong information.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @08:50AM (#44100007)

    The ruling is entirely reasonable (at least to the extent that I understand the European law). The answer is to amend the law so that it does include the right to be forgotten, except for non-trivial things (e.g. a paper that you've published, or news articles, especially about public figures). We need such a law in the US too, but I don't see how the Constitution requires it (which doesn't mean you can't have a law, especially in light of the 9th Amendment).

    A search engine is also the last party that should be responsible for this. It's utterly unreasonable to ask them to judge whether such a requirement is applicable to every page they index. The "publisher" of the page is the one that should be responsible.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How else will people find the sites that have not forgotten ?

  • Cease and Desist (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:04AM (#44100133) Journal
    What if you send Google a Cease-and-Desist letter? You won't be the only one who does this, and you would have more right to do so than others [torrentfreak.com].
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @09:13AM (#44100213) Journal

    I suspect that in this I will be contrary to most of the /. audience, but I don't believe that there IS an inherent "right to be forgotten".

    Not at ALL.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to point to the anonymizing of people as one of the more pernicious aspects of modern society (both as subject and as direct-object).

    What we do, what we say, and the ripples of these actions are fundamentally WHO WE ARE. For better or worse, they are inescapably tied to us.

    As much as we'd like to deny some things, or be allowed to (re)define ourselves, our actions speak more clearly to our essential character and personality than anything we can say, or rationalize, or even remember (since our memories are going to be biased in any case). Everyone makes mistakes, fools try to run from them. The facts of our mistakes are likewise part of us.

    The idea that people have a "right" to erase this, to say "I am as I am today, not as I was yesterday" isn't subtle and isn't profound: it's denial.

    Oh I think I "get it" - the assertion behind the 'right to be forgotten' is one of anonymity. In an era where the power of the individual seems to have vanished in the face of the might of collective entities like governments and corporations, the perception is that one can dodge aside by being anonymous. That too is silly in an era where passive observation is growing more comprehensive and data retention is nearly eternal.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      In fact, I'd go so far as to point to the anonymizing of people as one of the more pernicious aspects of modern society (both as subject and as direct-object).

      Far more harm is done by people who proudly sign their name and get rewarded for it than is done by anyone anonymous.

  • Just as the concentration of computer processing power cycles between the client and the server (could/network) so to does the length of time that consequences of your actions stay with you.

    This is despite most developed countries having a concept along the lines of the UK's "rehabilitation of offenders" - the right to put your wrongs behind you and start again. We have now entered a cycle where that is not possible, because your wrongs are documented forever on the Internet.

    And that will continue, until

  • It is such a huge undertaking to remove anything from the internet that it doesn't make sense to have a right to be forgotten. How can you expect a search engine to filter its results from anything anyone ever hoped to remove from the web while still accurately indexing it? On top of that, even if you managed to get Google, or Bing, or whatever to stop indexing any page with personal information, what keeps them from being remembered? You cannot tell google to search imgur for pictures of cats, or airplanes
  • "In the database, part of the database...in the database, part of the database!"

  • Use Google to find web sites hosting data about you. Contact them to delete it. Now it won't show up in Google or ANY OTHER search engine.
  • by Bruce66423 (1678196) on Tuesday June 25, 2013 @10:54AM (#44101323)
    The specific example cited was that of a guy who long ago was repossessed as a result of defaulting on his mortgage. Given that a public notice will have been issued on this, there is data about him 'in the public domain'. In the old days, when search engines didn't exist, that sort of data would have remained invisible to almost all people. These days it's suddenly become visible because of new technology. The same applies to ancient criminal convictions or other moments of fame generally forgotten. In this context, the debate is far more interesting: is my 15 minutes of fame to be available for the rest of time, or should access to it be limited. If it is as a result of an article in a newspaper, then should the newspaper be required to remove certain articles? Or should the search engines be stoppable? Or should we accept that something new has emerged? The need to forget past mistakes is recognised in the English criminal law by banning the identities of people under 18 from being published if they come before the criminal courts. This is an attempt to allow juvenile offenders to escape a permanent black mark against their name.
  • Vote them out put the bastards out of business
  • Here's the link: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=138782&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=324003 [europa.eu]

    I think that paragraph D.41 is important to remember:

    41. Source web pages are kept on host servers connected to internet. The publisher of source web pages can make use of ‘exclusion codes’ (27) for the operation of the internet search engines. Exclusion codes advise search engines not to index or to store a

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