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Google and the EU ruling

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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The EU ruled that individuals can request information be removed from searches.. I'm conflicted. For one thing, you've always been able to request removal of links from search. It's been a pain in the neck, but possible. (I've done it in the past when certain information was posted online that was clearly an accident.)

This seems like more though. In most ways, I think this is a good thing. There's a difference between something being in the public record vs it being one free search away. However, I feel like it lets people cherry pick what information shows up in a search. For example, could a doctor remove a malpractice story because it is damaging?


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Martin Vajsar
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Joined: Aug 22, 2010
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On the first day of the service, some 12,000 people have asked Google to "erase" information on them. Wow.

BBC says that more than half of the requests in the UK involved convinced criminals.

I've read elsewhere that Google said that they won't remove links which serve some public interest (so the doctor malpractice story should probably stay). It also means that the requests will have to be reviewed by humans. That's going to be pretty costly. I don't know how, for example, our local search provider (in one of very few countries where the local service is more popular than Google) will cope with it. (They don't offer the service yet, but technically they are bound by the same ruling.)

I wonder what the EU courts would say if Google indicated that some links were removed from search results due to these requests.
Campbell Ritchie
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Joined: Oct 13, 2005
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  28
I understand there have also been requests to newspaper websites for similar deletions (again many about convictions) although newspaper websites are not covered by the ruling.
I am not sure. On balance I think I lean towards the side of privacy, however.
Martin Vajsar
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 22, 2010
Posts: 3611
    
  60

As far as I know, the case was started by someone who wanted to take down an article about some case that concerned him. The courts decided that the article was legal and wouldn't be brought down. Next he went and sued Google to not show the link to that article in search results. I understand the privacy concerns, but this solution (let the information be there, but don't allow it to be found) seems a bit schizophrenics to me.

It also depends on how exactly will search engines remove the URLs from their search. They might, for example, remove them only from queries that contain the name of the person who requested them to be taken down. That way the material would still be available for other purposes. Not sure whether this is what the court mandated, though.
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31076
    
233

Martin Vajsar wrote:I wonder what the EU courts would say if Google indicated that some links were removed from search results due to these requests.

That would be interesting. It feels like it is not in the spirit of the request. But useful.

I read another interesting point in my newspaper. That Google could choose to have a different search for EU and non-EU users. Which would effectively make the ruling useless because everyone would use "American Google." So far, they don't appear to have gone that route.
Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
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That Google could choose to have a different search for EU and non-EU users. Which would effectively make the ruling useless because everyone would use "American Google." So far, they don't appear to have gone that route.

What I read was that only users coming from the country where an URL was removed (presumably determined by IP) would not see it in the results. I'm not sure how the difference between google.de, google.com etc. would play into that. (The method I used to use to get results from google.com instead of google.de doesn't seem to work any more; anyone know how this works nowadays?)
Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 31076
    
233

I guess they have gone that route. Interesting.

So they are requiring you to make it look as if you are coming from the US to use American google. Which implies using a VPN. Or maybe using a site that lets you search Google anonymously?
 
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