[LINK] Google and EU 'right to be forgotten' requests

Nick Ross nickrossabc at gmail.com
Thu Nov 20 14:28:47 AEDT 2014

I can see how the public and Google would rail against this.

But speaking as someone who has been repeatedly lied about by major media
entities and with those articles continuing to come back and cause me
significant grief due to Google searches, I can assure people that there is
another side to this.

> On 20 Nov 2014 1:31 pm, "Stephen Loosley" <stephenloosley at zoho.com> wrote:
>> This is how Google is dealing with 'right to be forgotten' requests
>> We will hear next week what the EU data protection authorities think of
Google's methods
>> By Loek Essers (IDG News Service) on 20 November, 2014
>> Google is employing a large team of lawyers, engineers and paralegals to
evaluate over half a million URLs requested to be de-listed from search
results by European citizens, the company said.
>> About six months after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)
gave Europeans the right to compel search engines to remove search results
in Europe for queries that include their names if the results are
"inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive," Google's team
has reviewed about 170,000 requests to delist search results that covered
over 580,000 links, Google's Global Privacy Council, Peter Fleischer, said
>> So far, about 42 percent of the requests have been granted, while about
58 percent were denied by the team, which looks at every request, according
to an online tool provided by Google that tracks the takedowns in real time.
>> https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/europeprivacy/
>> A removals team handles the easy cases, while the more difficult ones
are dealt with by a more senior group of lawyers and engineers, Fleischer
told privacy professionals during the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress
in Brussels.
>> Google put a lot of work into the implementation because of the court's
"vague" guidance, Fleischer said.
>> The delisting requests fall in to three categories. "There are the easy
yeses, there are the easy nos and there are the really hard cases in the
middle," he said.
>> One easily granted request, for example, involved a case in which photos
of a woman "in a state of undress" were posted to the Web by her
ex-boyfriend. Another easily granted removal involved a man who had
revealed his HIV-positive status in a forum posting 10 years ago and wanted
a link to it removed.
>> An easy denial was made to a request by an Italian politician who was
convicted of accepting a bribe and wanted a link to that removed just
before running for mayor, Fleischer said.
>> One of Google's problems, though, is that the process is often one-sided
because a decision is based on information supplied by one person using a
simple Web form.
>> Google was also asked to remove links pointing to information about
someone who was convicted a crime a long time ago. "Which on its face
sounds like, why wouldn't you do that? Except that later you find out that
the person has a history of being convicted and reconvicted and reconvicted
of the same crime up to the present day. Suddenly that shines a different
light on that kind of a request," Fleischer said.
>> Due to the vagueness of the court guidance, Google also had to fill in
other parts to implement the ruling.
>> For instance, it decided to remove links from all 28 EU country domains,
as well as from the Google domains in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and
Switzerland, countries belonging to the European Free Trade Association
>> However, the links weren't removed from the main.com domain, which was
criticized by Joe McNamee, executive director of European digital rights
group EDRi who took part in the panel discussion. It is inconsistent that
Google removed links to photos of scantily clad women on those 32 domains
and not on the .com domain, he said.
>> Fleischer said that Google decided not to remove the links worldwide
because it is quite clear to the company that other courts in other parts
of the world would never have reached the same result as the CJEU. This
will probably be an area of some discussion and disagreement, and perhaps
even some further judicial review over time, he added.
>> Another point of critique was aimed at Google's practice of telling a
site's webmaster that a link to their site was removed from the search
results, without telling them why. This has already led to speculation
about the person who requested the removal, resulting in people and media
wrongly guessing who filed the request.
>> As the court's verdict was silent on the rights of the webmaster,
sending such a notice is also a Google decision, Fleischer said. Because
removing a link could result in less traffic for a site, the company felt
obliged to alert the owner. "Remember, it is not about defamation. We are
talking about valid and legal content here, that is indisputable,"
Fleischer said.
>> Google is planning to continue to delist search results in the same way
in the future. While the company has struggled with the aftermath of the
ruling, Fleischer said that such cases ultimately serve to strengthen human
rights, so from that perspective, he welcomes future court cases. "In the
end, that is good for privacy," he said.
>> Whether Google's methods please the EU's data protection authorities
remains to be seen, though. The Article 29 Working Party (WP29), the group
representing the authorities, is planning to provide common guidelines for
dealing with right-to-be-forgotten requests after next week's plenary
session, said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chairwoman of the French data
protection authority CNIL and the WP29, during the conference. The group
wants to guarantee that every person in Europe has the same protection.
>> The focus shouldn't be on what the ruling means to Google, but on the
people making the requests. "It means that people want to control their
digital life," she said. "We have to listen to that."
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