“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do you have a “Right to be Forgotten?” - I don't think the content of the right to privacy should be defined by reference to the inconvenience caused to companies that profit from the collection and indexing of other people's personal information.


The one-sentence summary

Google will have to remove some search results upon request because the European Union's highest court believes that old information about a person can be not only irrelevant but misleading.

What did the court say?

The ECJ ruled that a search engine like Google has a responsibility to delete links concerning personal information upon request as long as that information is not relevant or in the public interest.
The search engine must remove the links even if the original source of the information, in this case the newspaper, doesn't have the obligation to do the same.
Why this distinction between newspapers and search engines? Because search engines make it easy to find information and are responsible when that information is outdated or inaccurate, the court said.
"Without the search engine," reads the summary of the court's full decision, "the information could not have been interconnected or could have been only with great difficulty."
The case was based on a complaint by Mario Costeja González, who argued that an auction note on his repossessed home damaged his reputation. The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published that information in 1998.

So what is this "right to be forgotten"?

The right to be forgotten is a legal concept in Europe that maintains that a person has a right to leave his or her past behind. The concept originated from the French "droit à l’oubli" (right of oblivion), which allows a convicted criminal to avoid having the details of a conviction and incarceration published after serving prison time.
Applied to the Internet, this concept would give individuals the right to ask Internet companies to erase their personal data when it is outdated, inaccurate or simply not relevant anymore, if there is no public interest in preserving the data.

"That does not mean that everybody has the right to be forgotten whenever they'd like to have their data forgotten,"Douwe Korff, a law professor at the London Metropolitan University who specializes in data privacy, tells Mashable. "The right to be forgotten, it's really a balance. It doesn't say you have the right to have your transgressions forgotten. It says if there is no public interests in those transgressions being exposed, then they shouldn't be exposed."
The right to be forgotten is not regulated in detail in European law, although the EU is working on a comprehensive new law that would regulate it explicitly. Today's decision, however, is based on a 1995 directive that says the EU's members have an obligation to make sure personal data is accurate and up to date. If there's "inaccurate or incomplete" data, countries have to provide citizens with a way to have that data "erased or rectified."
The directive doesn't specifically refer to Internet data, but applies to all kinds of data. The ECJ ruled today that the obligation to erase or rectify inaccurate or outdated information amounts to a right to be forgotten.

Why are critics wary about this ruling?

That might all sound reasonable, as we all have parts of our past we'd like the Internet to forget, but there's a problem here: Who decides what information can be deleted and what information should be preserved? Where's the limit?
The ECJ ruled that a person who wants some of his or her personal data erased can demand so from a search engine, which in turn will have to decide if the request is reasonable, balancing the person's privacy rights with freedom of expression and the public interest. And that gets tricky.
"That's not a very easy judgment to make," says Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, the director of European Affairs for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a digital rights organization. "There is all the risk in the world that this will be used by all kinds of people to demand that various information that they find inconvenient should be taken down."
The risk, Jeppesen says, is that such requests might lead Internet companies to be overly conservative and accept most of the demands to avoid litigation.
In other words, the risk is pre-emptive self-censorship. And the result of that might be a situation in which the same search term gives completely different results in Europe and the United States.
"It almost sounds like China," Jeppesen says. "You get one sets of results if you search from China and another if you search from outside."
But not everyone is alarmed. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, wrote in an email that concerns about censorship are "BS," since this is about information already out there and published many years prior.
Furthermore, he adds, "practical implications will be limited because it still requires individuals to make claims and vigorously pursue them not shying away from spending time and money. Only few will do so."
But the ruling opens up many other questions.


  1. It is an interesting issue though I think the EU court ruling to be problematic. The biggest problem lies in the notion that Google is the one that need rectify the information issue. I tend to agree with the Googles of the world in that they are search engines and not responsible for the content that their search yields. If the EU Court wants the info gone they need go to the source and get it deleted there.

    The courts in the US have, at times, sided with the plaintiffs against the search engines. was a search engine dedicated to searching torrent files. They experienced huge legal fights and were eventually shut down because most, but not all, torrents are illegally distributed copyrighted files. Napster was shut down as well though they had a central server that distributed the files unlike isohunt which is a search engine. I can easily type into google anything I want followed by the word torrent and come up with lots of pirated stuff. Should google be required to research the copyrights on all that is posted? I think not.

    I found if funny though that Rat thought that because he found an image through google he had the right to use it in his publications. That isn't the case.

  2. Here's something that I've been saying all along:

    Raising the minimum wage could lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty, but it's also a job killer. Right?

    Not so fast. In Washington state, small businesses are adding jobs faster than any other state in the country, according to a report from Paychex and IHS. It's also the state where minimum wage, at $9.32 per hour, is the highest.


    But the report from Paychex and IHS, which measured job additions and layoffs at 350,000 small businesses, could dispute that claim. Not only was Washington the strongest state, San Francisco -- with a minimum wage of $10.74, the country's highest -- had the greatest job gains in the past year among cities measured.

    CNN Money

    1. Here in Ontario Canada the minimum wage is set to go from 10.25/hr. to 11.00/hr June 1. We seem to be surviving.

      I see the debate in the US on this, and Health Care and I shake my head. Seems so backwards, so.... old archaic thinking...

  3. Here's something I've been saying all along -

    The Universe has a memory - it's the nature of things.

    You have no right to be forgotten.


    1. Though anyone with a lick of sense would wish we did at times.


  4. On Sunday, Germany’s impressive streak of renewable energy milestones continued, with renewable energy generation surging to a record portion — nearly 75 percent — of the country’s overall electricity demand by midday. With wind and solar in particular filling such a huge portion of the country’s power demand, electricity prices actually dipped into the negative for much of the afternoon, according to Renewables International.

    In the first quarter of 2014, renewable energy sources met a record 27 percent of the country’s electricity demand, thanks to additional installations and favorable weather. “Renewable generators produced 40.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, up from 35.7 billion kilowatt-hours in the same period last year,” Bloomberg reported. Much of the country’s renewable energy growth has . . . .


  5. The Veteran's Administration medical care system is what the entire medical system of the country will become if our nation doesn't chuck ObamaCare.

    Dale, for instance, is long dead. He had a lump in his chest the size of a small football before they diagnosed him with cancer.

    After that it was wait, wait, wait........for the undertaker.


  6. And by the way some veeery interesting emails came out today showing the IRS was controlled from D.C. in targeting conservative groups.

    And, by another way, if it weren't for the bravery of some SEALS free lancing, the death toll at Benghazi wouldn't have been four, but forty or fifty.


  7. Obamacare continues to destroy jobs.

    Jobless Claims fall to 297,000 - Lowest since 2007.

    Bloomberg Economic Calendar

  8. As for the question posed by Deuce:

    Those Who Forget History Are Doomed To Repeat It.

  9. Does the Government have "The Right to Force Me to "Forget?"

    1. I don't think the issue is whether the guv could/should force you to forget but rather whether you have a right to get google, or yahoo, or some other entity to stop referencing you. What if searches kept yielding links to false information about you? Do you have any rights in that case?

    2. what if every time your real name was searched your rufus prediction of the financial crisis being 'not much' came up top every time? That one isn't even false info on you.

    3. Ummh, let's be accurate. I thought that the "housing" aspect was probably not as serious as was being predicted (boy, when I get one wrong, I get it good and wrong.) :)

      However, I said many times that I thought the "energy" problem was a really big problem (on that one, I not only was right, but we won't even know for awhile just how right I was.)

      As to the primary question, I'm not sure that the government could, or should, limit access to all information, just because one dumb hillbilly might be embarrassed somewhere along the line.

  10. I don't want any erroneous Rufus prediction about any crisis ever forgotten. These need to be kept at hand to provide perspective for the future.



    Remember all the stuff about 'falling dominoes' in Indo-China?..........

    Vietnamese mobs ransack foreign factories in anti-China violence.... anti-China protesters set more than a dozen factories on fire in Vietnam
    China reverses Vietnam charm offensive
    Vietnam allows anti-China oil rig protests
    Video China and Vietnam clash in South China Sea
    US condemns latest South China Sea spat
    China accuses Hanoi of harassing oil rig
    Anti-China protests force Vietnam shutdown

    So there is Nike making shoes at Chinese factories in Vietnam and Vietnamese burning the factories down......

    Something about fishing rights, oil rights, oil rigs, the South China Sea and ancient animosities.......

    Predictions should be carved in stone.....


  11. I get my predictions directly from President Romney.

  12. :)


    Here's the guy to fix the disaster that is ObamaCare -

    Ben Carson For President


  13. May 15, 2014
    Why does the Department of Agriculture need submachine guns?

    Thomas Lifson
    Those federal bureaucrats who can’t be fired want to be able to defend themselves from angry taxpayers. Or something. AWR Hawkins reports for Breitbart:

    A May 7th solicitation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks "the commercial acquisition of submachine guns [in] .40 Cal. S&W."

    According to the solicitation, the Dept. of Agriculture wants the guns to have an "ambidextrous safety, semiautomatic or 2 round [bursts] trigger group, Tritium night sights front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore group) and scope (top rear), stock collapsible or folding," and a "30 rd. capacity" magazine.

    They also want the submachine guns to have a "sling," be "lightweight," and have an "oversized trigger guard for gloved operation."



    Every agricultural extension agent should have a .40 caliber submachine gun to protect themselves from the massing angry frenzied farmers of America.......who can argue with that?

    After all, it's rough out in farm country, not peaceful like, say, in Detroit or Philly.

    And I like the 'gloved operation' requirement. We wouldn't want our agricultural extension agents getting dirt under their fingers when suppressing the latest peasants uprising.

    "You are not severe enough with the peasants" said Martin Luther to the Princes.

    Our Government now seems to agree.

    What an insane country we have become.


  14. Democrats !

    In California, the Democrats have voted down a bill that would ban sex-selective abortions.

    Then, there's that top Democrat Debbie Wassermann-Schultz here -

    « Sudanese woman sentenced to hang for apostasy | Rove Needs Head Examined for Hillary's BrainTumor Remarks »
    Share Share |Share on twitter Twitter

    May 16, 2014
    Perhaps the most despicable thing Debbie Wasserman Schultz has said yet

    Thomas Lifson

    There’s a lot of competition, but Debbie Wasserman Schultz has disgraced herself in a way that may surpass anything else she has said. So far. Via Lifesite News (hat tip: Weasel Zippers):

    Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has branded a bill to punish men who trick their girlfriends into aborting against their will, or who otherwise kill a woman's unborn child, “senseless” and “extreme.”

    Yes, that’s right. So devoted is she to abortion that she would not punish those who trick a woman into aborting a child by giving her drug that causes an abortion without her knowledge.Some background on the law DWS attacked:

    The state legislature passed the Offenses Against Unborn Children bill after Remee Jo Lee's story went national last year.

    Andrew John Welden tricked Lee, his girlfriend, into taking a bottle of Cytotec (misoprostol) that he had falsely labeled as “Amoxicillin.” She miscarried their child, which she desperately wanted and had already named, last Easter. But Lee was surprised to learn that, because of an oversight in Florida law, Welden could not be charged with harming their unborn baby. Prosecutors could only charge him with violating the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act because he was accused of breaking federal laws against product tampering.

    Florida is one of 14 states that provide no legal remedy for mothers whose unborn children are killed before the point of viability.

    That's when Lee and her family threw their support behind the Offenses Against Unborn Children Act, which treats a crime that harms an unborn child as a separate offense from any damage inflicted on the mother.

    This is the person Democrats have placed at the head of their party. The mind boggles at this war on women.


    You'd have to be morally blind to vote for Democrats these days.


  15. The scandals are coming so 'fast and furious' these days that one can't focus on them well.

    Like trying to watch individual birds in a flock, it overwhelms.