[MyData & Open Data] Ann Cavoukian and Christopher Wolf: Sorry, but there’s no online ‘right to be forgotten’

Javier Ruiz javier at openrightsgroup.org
Wed Jul 2 10:36:20 UTC 2014

On 2 Jul 2014, at 10:36, stef <s at ctrlc.hu> wrote:

>> this is key: not removing the references to the book, but the links to him
> i think references in the card system and links are equivalent. i think you
> wanted to say "not removing the books, but the references”?

no, it’s not even that. the links to the sites are still in google’s index and can be found, but they should not appear when searching for a name. I think the ruling should have just asked Google to demote the links to - say - the third page, rather than completely removing them. But such demotion is as good as deletion in most cases, so the censorship aspects would still need to be considered

>> Google claimed that it was fundamentally different to these guys, but the court said no: a Google search result is the main personal profile people have online
> i dunno. all those google users receiving personalized search results based on
> their profiles stored at google doesn't make this a profile that is the same
> for every googler asking for it. there's more complication here, also when i
> do background checks i like linkedin and facebook a lot more, that's where
> even nsa employees disclose otherwise unavailable information, not google…

agree that there are other places, and some more important than Google, but the important thing here is that Google until now was not considered part of the personal data web (Linkedin, Facebook, Experian, Acxiom, etc.)

>> complying with human rights is not a matter of burden
> i don't get this. sure it should not be, but what do mean in this context? not
> wanting to become a censor and bearing the costs of this is not quite what you
> imply. 

There are many problems with Google being made responsible for censoring content, as they already are in relation to copyright, but the burden has to be part of their business. We cannot be led in that direction. Actually, the main problem around the burden is that it could easily lead them to semi automate take-downs, again as they do in copyright, with reputation management companies sending thousands of pre-processed requests in bulk. 

>>>>   Moreover, the Court did not provide sufficient instruction on how the
>>>> “right to be forgotten” should be applied. When do truthful facts become
>>>> “outdated” such that they should be suppressed on the Internet? Do online
>>>> actors other than search engines have a duty to “scrub” the Internet of
>>>> unflattering yet truthful facts? The Court didn’t say. The European Court of
>>>> Justice has mandated that the Googles of the world serve as judge and jury of
>>>> what legal information is in the public interest, and what information needs to
>>>> be suppressed because the facts are now dated and the subject is a private
>>>> person. Under penalty of fines and possibly jail time, online companies may err
>>>> on the side of deleting links to information, with free expression suffering in
>>>> the process.
>> This is exactly what we find problematic.
> this is exactly as problematic as censoring the piratebay. also the abuses by
> criminals and corrupt public representatives.

It’s different in that TPB is subjected to court injunctions, but these cases will be dealt with outside of any proper transparent system afaik.

But back to the point that the ruling did not rewrite any laws.

Dodgy people already  try to use privacy to get away from scrutiny. 

See Global Witness’s current fight with diamond dealers


which took place before the CJEU ruling. 

>> Only if the companies are subjected to EU data protection laws.  So yes, if you make  a data business with an office in the US and a dot com domain, but you collect data on EU citizens and sell advertising in Europe you have to comply. This is immensely important for the protection of the data rights of EU citizens.
> the failed concept of nation-states in a global connected world. what can
> possibly go wrong? censoring nipples^Wbreastfeeding on facebook? halal-internet?
> stop fucking around with the internet, and start fucking around with
> governments.

It is a bit self-interested I agree. Ideally we should be fighting for universal protections. Americans need more data protection. See the report on data brokers by the FTC


>>>>   As privacy advocates, we strongly support rights to protect an individual’s
>>>> reputation and to guard against illegal and abusive behaviour. If you post
>>>> something online about yourself, you should have the right to remove it or take
>>>> it somewhere else. If someone else posts illegal defamatory content about you,
>>>> as a general rule, you have a legal right to have it removed. But while
>>>> personal control is essential to privacy, empowering individuals to demand the
>>>> removal of links to unflattering, but accurate, information arguably goes far
>>>> beyond protecting privacy. Other solutions should be explored to address the
>>>> very real problem posed by the permanence of online data.
>> I cannot believe such eminent people would miss such basic points. 
> i actually totally agree with the conclusion:
>>>> Other solutions should be explored to address the
>>>> very real problem posed by the permanence of online data.

Yes, but it’s not just the permanence. It’s also the concentration of data. 

For example, there is a difference between police forces publishing mugshots of arrested people and sites like mugshots.com, which aggregate these to then charge you hundreds of dollars to take your photo down. All the way to Google a few people are making a killing out of the personal information of billions of us.

We already place certain restrictions on information. Criminal records expire and don’t have to be disclosed after a certain time. It should be a no brainer for Google to make time of publication a stronger variable in their algorithms.

But there is another side to this problem, as online data is not that permanent. How many of your 1990s bookmarks are still alive? 

Overall, yes, this is not the end of the story, but rulings like these are the drivers to these other solutions.

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