A lot of low quality web directories are being removed from google and rightfully so.
Why people would try to remove these links is beyond me. I dont think these links would ever cause a penalty, just simply be devalued.
If a directory will let anyone in, then it probably will get hit. This is not too hard to tell from google. If a directory is linking out to a bunch of crap sites, then thats an easy way for them to see the directory is a free for all.