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EU Court Backs Users' 'Right to be Forgotten' on Google
Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 8:37 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

A top EU court has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called "right to be forgotten".
[bbc.com...]

Breaking news at this stage >> More to come

 

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:16 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Now expanded as headlines on the UK's BBC news :

.. The European Union Court of Justice said links to "irrelevant" and outdated data should be erased on request. [bbc.com...]

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:38 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

The EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, welcomed the court's decision in a post on Facebook, saying it was a "clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans".

I'm all in favour of protecting personal data, but this sentence seems deeply ironic to me.

The decision came after Mario Costeja Gonzalez complained that a search of his name in Google brought up newspaper articles from 16 years ago about a sale of property to recover money he owed.

Hard to see how published newspaper articles qualify as personal data.

Where I live all newspapers are required by law to deposit copies in a central library.

Perhaps a latter-day Winston Smith can get a job deleting such information.

...

Lame_Wolf

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lame_wolf us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:10 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)


System: The following 2 messages were spliced on to this thread from: http://www.webmasterworld.com/goog/4670724.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 12:58 pm on May 13, 2014 (utc +1)


[bbc.co.uk ]
A top EU court has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called "right to be forgotten".

graeme_p

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:59 am on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Really stupid ruling. The information remains publicly available on another web site, but it should not appear in search results?

7_Driver

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 2:30 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

From the Guardian:

The test case ruling by the European Union's court of justice against Google Spain was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Costeja González, after he failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.

González argued that the matter, in which his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him whenever his name was searched on Google.

The European court judges ruled that under existing EU data protection laws Google has to erase links to two pages on La Vanguardia's website from the results that are produced when González's name is put into the search engine.


Remarkably stupid ruling from the EU - so no surprise there.

Two points:

I can't help but think that Mr González's attempt to have his house repossession forgotten has somewhat backfired - there must be 1,000 times the coverage that there ever was in the past.

Secondly - are we surprised that the EU found against an American search engine - rather than the more obvious target - the Spanish newspaper that published the material in the first place?

ScottM

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 3:49 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

I just read this article on another site, and I think I can somewhat understand the guy's frustration.

It appears he had a big story written about him several years ago, but the issue was resolved. He is upset that the original story still comes up in Google, without the "follow-up".

While it isn't the same thing, I can see it to be something like being accused of a crime in section A, page one, of a newspaper on Monday, only to have charges later dropped and have THAT reported in section B, page 7, in tiny print, two Saturdays later. If people didn't see the follow-up, then they would still assume the guy was accused (and likely guilty).

This is typical of those with unique names. A "John Smith" wouldn't worry.

Semi-fictional example:

A well-known attorney here in our town was recently charged with conspiracy to murder. Front page stuff for a couple of days. Had his law license suspended, etc.

After two weeks, all charges are dropped. Turns out the guy who was the 'witness' is a known informant (and criminal) who makes up stories to get out of trouble.

THAT story isn't on the front page...

Now, because the attorney has a unique name, the story of being ACCUSED and CHARGED with conspiracy to murder will remain in the SE's as the top story about him. The story about the charges being dropped and him being completely exonerated may not even be in the top 20 results...

Kinda a bummer, huh?

engine

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 5:14 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

The big problem here is not the principle, but it's how it would be managed. How on earth do you stop the stories from popping up on different sites from anywhere in the world? It is a battle that can't be easily won, even if the principle is not unreasonable.

graeme_p

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 5:25 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

The practical effect is that anyone can get search engines to drop unflattering links. Search engines are not going to check with their lawyers whether its is "relevant" - just as many British web hosts just remove any content anyone claims is libellous.

I can see potential for a huge backlash is someone like a paedophile or other serious criminal gets stories deleted from the SERPS using this.

Worse is proposed in a new law:

It appears to say that anyone who does not like an old story about them can ask for it to be wiped away, he adds.


The only good news is that the British government is doing the right thing for once, and seeking an opt-out:

[theguardian.com ]

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 5:38 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

It appears he had a big story written about him several years ago, but the issue was resolved. He is upset that the original story still comes up in Google, without the "follow-up".


If the original story weren't still online, the search engines wouldn't be indexing it and listing it in the SERPs. So the guy's problem isn't with Google, it's with the publication(s) that ran the story and have kept it online.

Censoring SERPs may make the story harder to find, but it won't make the story go away--and it won't keep people from finding the story by other means.

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 5:50 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

It appears he had a big story written about him several years ago

There was no story, as far as I can tell.

There is (it is still there) an advertisement for a property auction, placed by a local government department in 1998.

It appears in a scanned PDF of the printed newspaper (La Vanguardia) as part of an archive.

It lists seventeen available properties and names their (former) owners in all cases.

Senor Gonzalez is named in a four-line entry as the owner of half a house, with one Alicia Vargas Cots owning the other half.
The street address is provided, the overall space is given as 90 square metres, there is an indication of price and a
telephone contact for prospective purchasers.

There are no other details whatsoever in the document I have seen.

As the auction is on behalf of the Barcelona Social Security department (who paid for the advertisement) it can be inferred that all the properties were repossessed due to debt.

The fact that Senor Gonzales once had his home repossessed is now published on countless websites.

Google remains free to link to all of them except the pages containing the original advertisement.

Discuss?

...

[edited by: Samizdata at 5:55 pm (utc) on May 13, 2014]

engine

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 5:52 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Censoring SERPs may make the story harder to find, but it won't make the story go away--and it won't keep people from finding the story by other means.


Exactly my point; The practicality is the problem.

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 7:06 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

To clarify, the court ruling against Google applies to two online documents.

The publisher of both is La Vanguardia, a newspaper, which is not affected by the ruling.

The first page (as described above) contains an advertisement for property auctions.

The second (very similar) page has a subsequent advertisement for direct sales.

The main difference in the text is that the second says (in Spanish):

"No bids will be considered below 650,000 pts. for each of the halves."

Senor Gonzales is named as the former owner of half the property in both cases.

There is no other story to be forgotten.

Only a Streisand effect.

...

ScottM

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 7:18 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

It is a battle that can't be easily won, even if the principle is not unreasonable.


I agree: I don't know how one could manage it.

I understand the guy's complaint, though.

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 8:58 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

I understand the guy's complaint, though.

Are you sure?

It appears he had a big story written about him several years ago

I have both of the "offending" documents in my possession.

There was no story written about him whatsoever.

But there is now.

...

heisje

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:41 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

From CNN:

The Spanish privacy watchdog rejected the complaint against the newspaper, saying it was right to publish the information at the time of the auction.

However, it also said that Google had no right to spread the news about Gonzalez further and ruled that the search engine must remove the link from the list of results. Google challenged the ruling with the Spanish High Court which referred the case up to EU's top court.


Personally, I fully support the EU Court's judgement.

.

ScottM

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:42 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

Are you sure?


Yes. I am sure I understand the "spirit" of his complaint.

It appears he had a big story written about him several years ago

I have both of the "offending" documents in my possession.


I stand corrected on the "big story" part. (I'm not sure if it was lousy skimming on my part, or lousy reporting in the article I read. I suppose the former.)

:)

There was no story written about him whatsoever.


I must agree with you. (Those facts are hard to get around.)

AND I like the whole "Streisand Effect" reference. I've never heard it before. Thank you. I'll use it in the future.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 10:45 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

he failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.

I really hope something got garbled in the wording, because otherwise Sr Gonzalez comes across as an idiot-- which has got to be more harmful than anything else that could possibly be published about him. (A fool today vs. a bankrupt 16 years ago. Which would you choose?) As written, the sentence makes it sound as if he wanted a newspaper to retroactively change published content. That can't be right, can it?

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 11:16 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

the sentence makes it sound as if he wanted a newspaper to retroactively change published content

This is from the court judgment (freely available online):

Mr Costeja González requested, first, that La Vanguardia be required either to remove or alter those pages so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared or to use certain tools made available by search engines in order to protect the data. Second, he requested that Google Spain or Google Inc. be required to remove or conceal the personal data relating to him so that they ceased to be included in the search results and no longer appeared in the links to La Vanguardia.

The newspaper has not been required to take any action by the court ruling.

Visitors to its website can search on "Costeja González" and retrieve the pages easily.

The "offending" advertisements are from 19 January 1998 (page 23) and 9 March 1998 (page 13).

Anyone except Google can freely link to the documents, neither of which explicitly states that Senor Gonzalez had his home repossessed due to debt (presumably the information he finds embarrassing).

The countless websites that are now explicitly reporting this fact - including those to which Senor Gonzalez is happily giving triumphant interviews about preserving his privacy - are not affected by the court ruling.

...

super70s

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 11:36 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think I've seen that guy in a beer commercial -- "The Most Interesting Man in the World."

aakk9999

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 12:35 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

google.es: Mario Costeja González [Search]

Aproximadamente 37.200 resultados (0,18 segundos)

Oh well, only 37198 sites to go...

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 12:41 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

The big problem here is not the principle, but it's how it would be managed.

Getting a judgement in law is one thing, but as always for anyone involved, enforcing the remedy with law is another thing.

Subject to appeals, of which I imagine Google will have an army of lawyers if necessary, this case could very much make it Google's problem.

In my opinion Google would have to be given a reasonable chance to come up with an algorithm, editorial process or both to remedy this . And I also, don't know if Google can be held responsible, despite the ruling.

Selen



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 4:07 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google is not a publisher but the messenger. This ruling is going to be worse than fake DMCA requests. Bad EU law prone to massive abuse.

lucy24

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 4:27 am on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

either to remove or alter those pages so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared or to use certain tools made available by search engines in order to protect the data

Does "certain tools" mean that he would have settled for <noindex> tags on the offending pages?

Samizdata

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 12:03 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Does "certain tools" mean that he would have settled for <noindex> tags on the offending pages?

Apparently so.

What he wanted was for an inconvenient fact to be excluded from Google SERPs when his name was searched for.

What he has achieved - and is apparently proud of - is that the same inconvenient fact has been propagated to countless websites that are not affected by the ruling (news reports are not considered personal data in any case).

And Google is free to rank all those pages that have reported the inconvenient fact.

Far from being forgotten, the inconvenient fact is now destined to be remembered in perpetuity.

This is viewed by some as a great victory for privacy.

Funny old world.

...

heisje

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 12:58 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google had no right to spread the news about Gonzalez further


Very disappointing that many, mostly Americans, cannot comprehend the essence of the matter, as quoted: the immense power of a search engine such as Google to harm individuals and businesses, and the political necessity to devise broad limits to this power. GOOGLE HAD NO RIGHT TO SPREAD THE NEWS FURTHER despite the citizen objecting to this.

In a world & society, as existed previously, it was expected that a fact relevant 20 years ago, would be long buried both by irrelevancy and time. Societies lived by an implicit law of gradually committing matters to oblivion. This is not the case any more, in today's world, where the dead are kept very alive in a virtual manner. Thus, the need for new regulations, to protect citizens and businesses from the "for-profit" power of the few.

Expect in the coming 5-10 years powerful EU regulations protecting small businesses from search engine abuse.


.

graeme_p

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 2:11 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Where do you get he "mostly Americans" from?

Why does Google not have a right to return links to what is public information? It was published in the newspapers! It is not Google that has been spreading the news, it is the newspaper that has the original ads on its website - and they have been allowed to keep them there.

incrediBILL

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 2:36 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Really stupid ruling. The information remains publicly available on another web site, but it should not appear in search results?


Spot on.

If you don't want it indexed, remove it from the web and the resulting 404 will solve the problem.

Other ways:

Block it in robots.txt
Googlebot
Disallow: /mydumbpage.html

Add a meta tag to the page:
<META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">

Add a header entry to the server:
X-Robots-Tag: noindex

All of the above, and more, will result in the removal of the old content from any search the next time the spider comes looking for that content.

However, this isn't about the fact that the technology exists to remove the content from the index. This isn't about the fact that the instructions for removal from the index are plainly located on the webmaster help pages of the search engine.

What this is about is a bunch of whiny desperate newspapers that couldn't find their butt using both hands and a flashlight abusing and wasting the courts time for frivolous nonsense that any junior webmaster could tell them how to do it.

The real issue is Google took away the bulk of their advertisers so the newspapers are just doing everything possible to make Google miserable and waste their money on idiotic court cases trying to punish them because the newspapers didn't adapt to the online environment, the old school thinking running those papers assumed the status quo and they lost the farm so this is all a bunch of whiny sour grapes as the technology is there.

The problem is the REAL problem is the newspaper can only remove THEIR copy of the content, not the version indexed in a billion RSS feeds displayed all over the world, in the internet archives, etc.

Why is that a problem?

Because the newspapers sell access to old content archives as a way to generate revenues from people researching all that stuff they printed from years gone by.

However, the newspapers don't really control the distribution, they want it all over the web when it's published then whine when they can't undo it when it's archival time.

Sorry boys, the web don't work that way.

Grow up!

Maybe I'm wrong here, but this is what I think they're dancing around.

Also, at the end of the day, if the newspapers in their rush to drag everyone's dirty laundry out for the world to see, whether it's substantiated or not, they wouldn't need to bury their mistakes.

engine

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 2:48 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Jimmy Wales has thrown his weight behind the ruling.

A ruling forcing Google to remove search results has been described as "astonishing" by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's Founder, Says Ruling is "Astonishing" [bbc.co.uk]


"I suspect this isn't going to stand for very long.

"If you really dig into it, it doesn't make a lot of sense. They're asking Google... you can complain about something and just say it's irrelevant, and Google has to make some kind of a determination about that.
Continue reading the main story

"That's a very hard and difficult thing for Google to do - particularly if it's at risk of being held legally liable if it gets it wrong in some way.

piatkow

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4670679 posted 4:43 pm on May 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand if its on the web then it should be indexed but on the other hand if reading the snippets in a Google search gives the wrong impression - eg "XXX child abuse trial" with the verdict of innocent not visible then that is another matter.

Of course G could simply downgrade old pages in the SERPS which would penalise informational sites where the published data doesn't change.

This 69 message thread spans 3 pages: 69 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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