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Google facing torrent of personal data removal requests in EU

updated 09:01 pm EDT, Wed May 14, 2014

Ruling by Court of Justice opens door to users 'right to be forgotten'

Hours after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, search engine giant Google is already receiving requests to purge "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" personal engine from search results. Google has not as of yet figured our how to handle the requests or generated a workflow to evaluate the legitimacy of the demands.

"A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google's perspective that's a balance," said Google CEO Eric Schmidt of the court's ruling. "Google believes having looked at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong."

Google spokesman Al Verney said of the ruling that the company was "very surprised that it differs so dramatically from the Advocate General's opinion, and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyze the implications." Google will have to both implement and police takedown requests, to insure both legitimacy as well as the appropriateness of a given request.

Should Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft fail to comply with any enacted "right to be forgotten" law, it could be fined as much as two percent of its global yearly revenue. All of the search engines will have to field "an army of removal experts" in each of the European Union's 28 countries, regardless if the corporation has an existing presence, according to Reuters.

by MacNN Staff




  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Who the hell has the right to know my personal info?! Certainly NOT Google!

    The fact is this hits Google right in the money basket. While Google states all's fair in business by giving away "free" solutions that others have spent R&D developing (Office, iOS, cloud services), Google now all of sudden cries foul when the very essence of its revenue cow, personal data, is threatened with voluntary removal. Doesn't feel too good does it Schmidt to have someone just arbitrarily take your jewels?!!

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    While I agree with the sentiment that users should retain control over their personal information and that internet entities should comply with takedown requests concerning personal information that the person doesn't want used for marketing purposes, let us all remember that Google doesn't know anything about us that we didn't explicitly or implicitly tell them.

    *We* are the biggest and most prominent threats to our own privacy, not Google, Facebook, et al. Facebook and/or Google don't know a thing about me that I didn't put on the internet voluntarily, either through my account information, use of the GMail servers, or posted on social networks.

    It's not Google's responsibility to protect my personal information and keep my secrets secret -- it's my responsibility. Willingly putting information into Google's database, then telling Google, "Hey, that info I just told you? It's a secret. Don't tell anyone," is just asinine. Secrets are no longer secrets once you tell someone, including entities such as Google/Facebook, and "private" information is no longer private once you put it on the internet.

    Just like making a video of yourself and putting it on a public access TV channel, then turning around and telling people not to watch the video or use the information you disclosed in the video is asinine, so is putting something on the internet and expecting any level of control over who views that information.

    Quit being so God damned irresponsible with your "private" information, people. You can't blame or expect Google to take responsibility for being loose with your information seeing as how you, yourself, being loose with your information is why Google knows about it to begin with.


    Professional Poster

    Joined: 02-23-00

    Google knows all kinds of things about you you didn't tell them. The web is absolutely littered with tracking cookies and googles adds. They use this to learn almost everything about you. And it take s a Herculean amount of effort to prevent it. It's not like tv adds where they have no idea who or when watched it. They know every time you visit a page. And if even if you block all the cookies and don't sign up for a google account they still get you're ip address. Now they just need 1 time to map that ip address like for example you send an email to someone who has a gmail account.

  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I don't think anyone signed up for Gmail, Google+ or YouTube just so they could give Google their personal was for the "free" services those entities provided. Granted, the fine type explains all the usages afforded Google, but who really takes the time or employs the service of a legal counsel to explain the ramifications of those terms.

    I agree we should not be so cavalier about giving out personal information. The real point being made here, however, is why such companies are entitled to maintain that information even after said services are no longer used or when accounts are permanently closed. At the very least, like this EU initiative, a person should be allowed to request that Google remove their personal data from further use by the company.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    "At the very least, like this EU initiative, a person should be allowed to request that Google remove their personal data from further use by the company."

    I agree wholeheartedly. While I've got no qualms about what data Google collects on me as I traverse their site from service to service, and as long as I agree to let them use that data to target ads toward me across their services, then I should also be able to opt-out of that agreement whenever I please as well, contingent on the cessation of my use of their services, taking steps to guarantee the removal of any personalized data that Google holds on me.

    The internet isn't a magical cloaking device meant to automatically keep one's activites hidden from the rest of the people using and managing the internet and its services. It's akin to shopping in a mall, where any passers-by can see what you're purchasing, what stores you go into, what stores you avoid, what food you ate at the food court, what you wrote on the bathroom stall wall, and what people you associate with while at the mall, provided you don't put effort into cloaking your goings-about (i.e., most people).

    And, just like a mall, on the internet, if you want to hide what you're doing and where you're going, you must take your own steps to ensure that you're not spotted doing it. In a mall, maybe you wear a hoodie and cap slung low. On the internet, maybe you use a VPN. In a mall, maybe you pay in cash so it's untraceable. On the internet, maybe it's Bitcoin.

    The point being that relative anonymity for an individual browsing away on the internet is not a base-level "right," just as it isn't in real life. Google knows what it knows because you didn't take at all or took an improper number of steps to ensure your anonymity, if relative anonymity is your goal. It's the internet users' responsibility to protect their anonymity and actions and information, not the entities providing services on the internet.

    This new legislation for users to be able to press the "Delete all" button on various services across the internet is a step in the right direction in helping users take steps to make sure that only the information they want to get out gets out. It also provides them with a way to back out later, perhaps from remorse or a due to a drunken haze.

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