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Google seeks to limit ‘right to be forgotten’ by claiming it’s journalistic (cjr.org)
352 points by danso 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 319 comments



Seems pretty journalistic to me. This "right to be forgotten" seems incredibly dangerous to me. Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten? Do we give child molesters the right for their crimes to be forgotten? Why should people have the right to have things they don't like wiped from the historical record?

EDIT: I should point out, I do understand the other side. People shouldn't be punished forever for a crime they've already paid their ostensible debt for. However, I think this is a pretty nuanced issue, and a universal 'right to be forgotten' or a blanket "everything about everyone is accessible forever" is probably not the right solution.


Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten?

Removed from google != removed from public record. If google has become our only source of information we are pretty much screwed. If Trump were to have his bankruptcies "forgotten" by google then journalists would still report when relevant since he is a celebrity/(sigh)politician, and any entities considering doing business with him or anyone should be doing proper due diligence.

Google CANNOT become our only source of truth.

Edit: grammar.

Edit 2: My point is about the perception of Google as the only relevance source of information for society. Not a value judgement on the concept of a "right to be forgotten" from any source or surfacer of information.


Google cannot become our only source of truth, but should we eliminate it as a source of truth?

What about other search engines? Social media shares? What happens when a journalist publishes an article based on offline investigation, does the right to be forgotten still apply? Search engines need to fight libelous SEO attacks, but this is a deeply unsettling over-reaction.

Let's drop the Orwellian phrasing and call it what it is: "Right to hide the past". Forget the truth, security through obscurity.

Knowledge is power, and search engines are the map.

edit:

And hopefully it's obvious the issue of search results is separate from consumer data mining/ad profiling.


The right to be forgotten is meant to protect individuals' privacy. You sound as if you believe that a world in which all knowledge was public forever would be a better world. I disagree with this and think that we have to weigh it with individual privacy and safety. Not to mention the fact that these search engines are not 100% accurate, so it would be beneficial at least to allow people to remove inaccurate sources.

Embarrassing / reputation-affecting knowledge being available to the public forever is not the same as truth being available. Especially now that we see how engines like Youtube go out of their way to offer extreme and provocative information, we should not leave it to search engines to be unregulated sources of information about individuals. Search engines will not tell your employers that you work diligently everyday but they will show an offensive tweet of yours from 2007 if that's what gets clicks and reactions.


Address the problem, not the symptoms. The problem is at the platform level, so regulate platforms like Facebook. Search engines simply search what they scrape.

* If someone feels consequences of an offensive 2007 tweet, just delete it. Platforms should be required to make it easy to delete content.

* If someone is scared of saying controversial things, avoid platforms that require real identities. There are plenty of anonymous platforms.

* Uphold social media to the same standards of traditional media, requiring truth and propagation of redactions and corrections. Libel and slander are well-established concepts.

* Demand discretion from friends. In college, my group had a strict "no-camera" rule when it came to embarrassing or unlawful shenanigans. My parent's generation had the same rule.

Hiding search results does not address the problem. If someone posts a photoshop of "Eric driving drunk" on Twitter, I want that post promptly removed... the search results are just a symptom.


So someone posted a real photo of 'Eric driving drunk' to the web. Eric did not approve of that in any way and wants it gone. The someone could not care less. What is the solution in your model?


If Google didn't post it why would you go after Google? Tell whoever posted it or whoever is hosting it to take it down.


Because Google makes it easy to find. Nobody cares about some rant about you by an anonymous customer, or just your ex partner when it is on page 73. But if it is on page 1 and the other party refuses to take it down you just feed an endless army of lawyers.


There are other search engines and data aggregators. Making Google hide things just gives victims false peace of mind... The problem is still there.


That's when you get your page, with your side of the story, ranked #2, or at least page 1.

That's the nature of the internet. The great equalizer


The problem isn’t that the content exists- it’s that google surfaces it.


> The problem isn’t that the content exists- it’s that google surfaces it.

Removing it at the source removes it from google.

It's like saying the problem isn't that there is a negative story about you in The New York Times from 2007, the problem is that ISPs allow their customers to read that story in The New York Times. Obviously the "problem" is the story -- which you may have no legitimate right to prevent people from reading -- and if you have a legitimate complaint (i.e. libel) then you should have to take it up with The New York Times and not Comcast or Google.

The reason people want to go to Google instead is that they know Google doesn't have a strong enough incentive to stand up for the victim of the censorship. If you go to the source they may refuse to take it down and force you to adjudicate the matter in court where they can argue their side in front of a judge. If you go to Google, economically they have to take it down because nobody is paying them to hire lawyers to spend the hours it takes to make accurate legal determinations and they would go out of business taking on that role without compensation for seven billion people.


"The problem isn't that someone lit my house on fire - it's that I can see the fire"


Probably the problem description should be something that is legal in most places but would cause real problems for anyone caught doing it.

so let's say Eric was out drunk with his friends and they walked in a sex shop and picked up some dildos because hah hah this shit is funny we are so drunk and then Eric took some silly photos cuddling the dildo or mimicking putting it in his ass and someone posted it to the internet and now eric would like it gone.

Now Eric's pictures on the internet are actually sort of funny so they have gotten some exposure, and so Eric finds he can't keep his job at the local macho place of employment - I don't know why, maybe he's not good at talking shit to anyone who talks shit to him so everybody picks on him about his stupid funny photos.

So he gets fired or quits because can't handle the harassment, and is sick of going out and hearing hey it's dildo guy. So he moves away. Nobody in his new town know's he's dildo guy, but then he goes out one night with this girl, and somebody exclaims omg it's that dildo guy, hey look at this everybody I got me some google skills, I saw this hilarious picture one time.

Now on the one hand Eric has given the world a lot of (unpaid) entertainment as dildo guy, but on the other hand when he commits suicide because he is emotionally unconstituted to go through life being called out every now and then as dildo guy then he makes people feel bad. So in order to allow Eric to make his stupid drunk dildo hugging photo and not ruin the rest of his life for something embarrassing but totally legal let's just give him the right to remove the stuff from google. That way, when he moves from his old town where there are lots of people remembering the whole dildo picture situation, in his new town people didn't know him when it was fresh and his stupidity is somehow 'forgotten' thus preserving the ability that people have had throughout history of moving from one area because their reputation at that area had become to problematic to continue. Google makes sure the reputation follows.


Closer to "The problem isn't that I bought a fridge, the problem is that it malfunctioned and my house burned down."

The problem is the content showing up when searching for someone's name, not that there is an article on a website somewhere.


That's a really poor metaphor because the fridge is the problem - you don't want people seeing that content because it's inherently "bad". If it's not on Google search, it becomes harder to find... but it's still there, still discoverable, and now you have no awareness or control over the situation.

I guarantee Yandex and Baidu will not respect western delusions of security through obscurity.


> I guarantee Yandex and Baidu will not respect western delusions of security through obscurity.

This has nothing to do with security through obscurity, it has to do with rights of human beings. Anyway Google doesn't either, hence the article.


Well maybe Eric shouldn't have "driven drunk"? Im not sure why search providers should be held accountable for protecting the carefully curated (false) reputations of individuals.

  All of the "right to be forgotten" arguments seem to devolve to "people shouldn't be able to know any data points that would negatively effect my social standings".


What if someone posts libelous information about Eric and uses SEO to make it show up on page 1 of Google's search results?


Even more troubling is deep fake technology that's run rampant. Should a serious director never hire Emma Watson again because she's such a prominent porn actress? Of course "we all know" that's fake. But how would we ever know Eric's stuff is fake?


> But how would we ever know Eric's stuff is fake?

Isn't that a point in the other direction? The existence of convincing fakes will teach people not to believe everything they see on the internet.


Depends if in the scenario you're imagining, "libelous" implies false, or just damaging.


Contact the platform to demand removal. The porn industry has SOPs for dealing with this problem, I am not a lawyer but I imagine that process can be generalized and legally enforced

If that someone shared it on their own website, hosted out-of-country, on their own hardware... well, I can't do anything about that but i also wouldn't care. It's clearly non-authoritative and won't get SEO traction by itself.


So you want a US based Google where only US based content is ranked?


Well that's a red herring, what made you jump to that conclusion?


A prospective Eric could engage in some formal process to require distinctive detail be added to that 'accusation' so that it does not defame the Eric which did not drive drunk.


Take them to court. Or learn to accept it.


So you would rather only the rich can afford to protect themselves? RTBF makes it possible for ordinary citizens who can't afford fancy lawyers to fight big corporations to seek redress. This is one of the reasons its so important.


> So you would rather only the rich can afford to protect themselves?

Does Europe not have the concept of a court-appointed lawyer?

> RTBF makes it possible for ordinary citizens who can't afford fancy lawyers to fight big corporations to seek redress.

No it makes it possible for criminals to hide their criminality. To be very blunt, if I were an employer, I don't want to hire a murderer. I don't care if he/she was convicted and served their time. Once you have committed murder, I will not hire you. I will not deal with you in any way. Hiding/obfuscating true information from me is wrong. Criminality is public record. It should be easily accessible.


> Does Europe not have the concept of a court-appointed lawyer?

Not sure you understand how court-appointed attorneys work. First off, you can't use one to sue someone else since you can only get a court-appointed attorney when you're being charged in a criminal suit.

Second, court-appointed attorneys suck. They are underpaid, overworked, and unable to properly do their jobs as is.

Requiring legal action would indeed create a scenario where only the rich bring such cases to trial.


Court appointed lawyers are for criminal cases, not civil ones. This is pretty common across legal systems, AFAIK.

RTBF does not protect murderers, this is a fundamental lack of knowledge of the law and its clearly marked boundaries.


RTBF comes about because someone did exactly that, and the publisher ignored the court rulings.

I'm uneasy about some RTBF cases, but where you have a person making prolific publications across a variety of legal jurisdictions and ignoring the legal rulings (which happens in cases of stalking and harrassment, for example) it's impossible for the victim (and they do suffer real harm) to get justice other than asking search engines to de-index the attack pages.


Search engines only show what's posted by other people, so while they're a convenient target, they aren't the actual bad actor.

Our legal system tends to attack actual bad actors, not convenient targets. Unless the Internet is involved. The way RTBF and DMCA work, search engines bear 100% of the cost, and people don't ever go after the actual bad actors.

By the way, in the US, if Tabloid X publishes Eric's photo, that's 100% legal thanks to the First Amendment, as long as the photographer agrees. Eric has no part. Attacking search engines on behalf of Eric, in the US, not so cool. Europe doesn't have free speech, so, no problem.


> Europe doesn't have free speech, so, no problem.

Europe definitely has free speech (all the countries I know of anyway, Europe has a lot of different countries). There is just a different definition of what exactly is free speech and what is something else (some racist things are not considered free speech).


RTBF is Europe-wide, you have courts that make precedents like that which are Europe-wide even though Europe has a lot of different countries.

And sure, I'm sure you'd call what you have free speech. But that's not the way the US defines it.


> RTBF is Europe-wide

Nope it's not, it's an EU law and EU !== Europe. Europe has 51 countries while the EU only has 28. Just like Mexico is not in the US, a ton of European countries are not in the EU.


> The way RTBF and DMCA work, search engines bear 100% of the cost, and people don't ever go after the actual bad actors.

RBTF, maybe, but how is the DMCA this way? Certainly not the takedown notice/counternotice provision, which doesn't create new liability, only a special shield from any pre-existing liability.


> how is the DMCA this way? Certainly not the takedown notice/counternotice provision, which doesn't create new liability, only a special shield from any pre-existing liability.

The problem is that the shield has value to the search engine in excess of the cost to the search engine (but not the cost to the censorship victim) of removing the information. It reduces their risk, even when the risk is low because they would be likely to win, and removes the cost of having to litigate the issue even if they do win, so the search engine takes the deal and then executes ~all the notices even when they're bogus.

Which is a direct cost to the censorship victim compared to handling it the way Section 230 does it, and an indirect cost to the search engine because it has them paying to process the removal of legitimate information and reduces the value of their service to customers -- just not enough of an indirect cost to give them the incentive to refuse, because the brunt of the cost is on the third party being censored.


The DMCA causes huge costs for search engines because of all of the bogus takedowns, which people can send without any consequences. Congress could fix that aspect of the law, but has chosen not to.


> The DMCA causes huge costs for search engines because of all of the bogus takedowns

The search engine could ignore all takedowns and be in exactly the same situation as it would be without the DMCA; the safe harbor provision isn't a mandate on them, it is a benefit to them. They deal with takedowns because the cost of doing so is less than the cost of copyright liability they would have without the DMCA, which means the DMCA is saving them money, not imposing a cost.


> The search engine could ignore all takedowns and be in exactly the same situation as it would be without the DMCA; the safe harbor provision isn't a mandate on them, it is a benefit to them. They deal with takedowns because the cost of doing so is less than the cost of copyright liability they would have without the DMCA, which means the DMCA is saving them money, not imposing a cost.

You're treating the safe harbor and notice and takedown as indivisible when they obviously aren't. Conditioning the safe harbor on notice and takedown is a huge cost compared to the alternative used in CDA 230.


> You're treating the safe harbor and notice and takedown as indivisible when they obviously aren't.

They obviously are both part of the DMCA, so you can't say that the DMCA imposes costs based on the notice and takedown condition for the safe harbor, because ignoring that condition leaves the host in the same position they would be in without the DMCA.

You can say that the notice and takedown requirement reduces the cost savings of the safe harbor compared to the hypothetical policy of an unconditional safe harbor, or one with alternative sets of conditions, but that's a very different claim than the DMCA imposing costs.


> They obviously are both part of the DMCA, so you can't say that the DMCA imposes costs based on the notice and takedown condition for the safe harbor, because ignoring that condition leaves the host in the same position they would be in without the DMCA.

The safe harbor and the anti-circumvention rules are both part of the DMCA too, but it's silly to argue that the anti-circumvention rules don't impose net costs because if you average them together with the safe harbor it comes out somewhere near neutral. They don't cease to be divisible just because they were enacted at the same time. Otherwise you could justify anything by just finding something which is as good as the target thing is bad and lumping them together on the same side of the scale.


Er, ok, I formed my opinion as to the relative liability cost as the executive in charge of DMCA of a search engine that raised $63mm. I dislike appeals to authority on HN as much as the next person, but you sure seem confident at knowing something about small search engines that only a small number of people actually have experience with.

And if you've never gotten a DMCA takedown from Perfect 10, you probably don't understand the true terror of the DMCA process.


>Europe doesn't have free speech, so, no problem.

Just because hate speech isn't protected doesn't mean we don't have free speech.


Thanks for the downvotes, folks, it really encourages discussion!


> Europe doesn't have free speech, so, no problem.

No-where[1] has the US's extremist version of freedom of speech. Europe has a different form of free speech, and in this example Eric's right to be forgotton probably doesn't trump Someone's right to publish true information.

I guess there'd be some judicial attempt to balance these two rights: Does Eric pose a continuing risk to the public from drunk driving? Is Eric a public figure who's claimed to never have driven drunk? Was this a one off event that happened many years ago, never repeated? This would be something courts are able to decide.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_10_of_the_European_Con...


You missed my actual point, which is that the search engine is just showing what a website published. RTBF attacks the search engine in that case, not the actual website.


And you've missed the point that RTBF isn't automatic, and that it is balanced against the right for search engines to publish information.


With all of the cost pushed on the search engine. Which is a huge barrier to entry, yet Europe says it wants more search engines.

BTW, search engines don't "publish" information in the US sense of the word. The way Russia forces Yandex to self-censor is that Yandex is liable for everything they show to users. That's 'publishing' in the US sense. Newspapers have publishers, and the publisher is the person you sue if you think the newspaper has libeled you.

Meanwhile, Europe (mostly) doesn't consider RTBF to be censorship because it only involves censoring search engines and not newspapers. Except that people are filing RTBF against newspaper site search, too.


> * If someone feels consequences of an offensive 2007 tweet, just delete it. Platforms should be required to make it easy to delete content.

...and I read that tweet in 2007, and quoted it in a blog post on my obscure, low traffic blog. Google will still find it.

> * Uphold social media to the same standards of traditional media, requiring truth and propagation of redactions and corrections. Libel and slander are well-established concepts.

What about the case where the damaging content is true? A key thing here is that what is acceptable changes over time. Something that can be a life ruining social faux pas today may have been pretty normal 20 years ago, and many people today won't accept the "oh, that was normal back then" explanation.

We used to be able to avoid these problems because it took effort to dig up records from 20 years ago, and from low circulation sources like local newspapers.

So, for example, if you did stupid things in your home town that ended up in your high school newspaper, and then 20 years later were applying for a job in a city in another state...the employer would probably not find that high school newspaper, even if you were applying for a fairly sensitive job in an industry like finance.

That's because to find things like that they would have to actually send someone to visit your high school library and comb through their archives of the high school newspaper. That's just too expensive to do routinely for job applicants, except for the most sensitive positions.

Nowadays, all that stuff ends up online from the start, and it is cheap and easy to find.

> * Demand discretion from friends. In college, my group had a strict "no-camera" rule when it came to embarrassing or unlawful shenanigans. My parent's generation had the same rule.

All it takes is one person in the group to slip up, or for you to overlook one third party who is not part of your agreement and who can see you. So really, the rule has to be don't undertake embarrassing or unlawful shenanigans. (And as I noted above, standards for what is embarrassing or unlawful can change over time, so it really needs to be don't do anything that could conceivably become embarrassing or unlawful in the next 50 or so years).

Essentially we used to balance privacy vs. public access kind of automatically, due to the limitations we had in information storage, indexing, and retrieval. We've removed most of those limitations, so the balance has been lost.


> If someone feels consequences of an offensive 2007 tweet, just delete it. Platforms should be required to make it easy to delete content.

“Just delete it”.

Except have you ever personally been in the situation that you needed something removed? I have and:

1) You might not even have the password to every random account you created in the past, nor the e-mail addresses that you used when you created those profiles, nor maybe even remember what e-mail address you used for each of them.

2) Turns out that there are a lot of sites out there that copy and preserve a lot of random data from other sites. They do so without regards to the ToS of the site you originally posted to. They do not care about copyright. They do not respond to personal requests for removal of data. They do not respond to DMCA notices. They are outside of the jurisdiction of the country you live in and as are their hosting providers. And even if they are cooperative, there are so many of them that reaching out to all of them and following up on the removal will require much much more time and energy than what you have available.

So then the best you can do is delete what you can and submit the rest for removal from Google.

“Well you shouldn’t have posted it in the first place if you didn’t want it to be public”, right? No, it’s not that simple!

The things you post today can be taken out of context and misinterpreted by someone in the future in ways you would never have imagined today.

We keep posting comments, pictures, videos, creating profiles, liking and sharing posts and information, but most of us rarely delete any of it. As the amount of data increases, so does the room for cherry picking data about you to build up an image of you that while true in the sense that all of it are things you posted, wildly misrepresents what kind of person you are, and on top of this misrepresentation and even more inaccurate image can be painted.

If you had any idea what it feels like to have that happen to you, I think you would want to be able to have some of that information at the very least removed from search results.

Once it’s gone from search, it’s gone from the public eye. And if you are lucky you are able to erase the bits of information that ties the data to you so that even if the data resurfaces in the future it is no longer connected to you, or at least not as directly.

Furthermore, when you are working on having information removed you should first make a list of all of the information, then have it removed from Google ASAP so that 1) it gets harder to find as soon as possible and 2) so that the information is not retained in the publicly available caches of search engines after it’s been deleted from the source sites.

Beyond that, for the information that you could not get deleted but which you were able to have removed from search results, some of it will eventually disappear all together on its own because of bitrot (hardware failures, data management errors, sites going out of business, etc) and some of it will probably stick around forever.

But like I said you want as much of it removed as possible and you want the rest of it to be hard to find and you want as much of it as possible to lose connection to you. And achieving that requires the cooperation of the search engines in removing results.


>They do not respond to DMCA notices.

But Google does cooperate with DMCA. The difference there is that that content deemed in violation of copyright is actually illegal for anyone to distribute; legal responsibility extends all the way to the website owner.

Unless content falling under "right to be forgotten" is ruled privileged and not legal for public distribution, any artificial roadblocks to their discovery will merely present a business opportunity for their circumvention.


so copyright everything you post online and then invoke DMCA when it shows up in search results?


You cannot copyright a story written about you (AFAIK IANAL), DMCA is not designed to protect individuals from these kind of things.


It is that simple. Just the same as in real life. If you're "saying, likeing, sharing" things that "don't represent who you are" maybe you should take some time for introspection rather than demand the world to follow your narrative.

Information you, yourself, post publicly to the internet is public. Just the same as if you got up in Times Square and shouted it using a megaphone.

Information that is factually accurate that is posted publically on the internet isn't under your domain to censure. This falls heavily in the camp of "freedom of my speech not freedom of your speech" that seems so common here.

Information that is posted by others that isn't factual is already covered by libel and slander laws so doesn't fall under here.

The internet should be, and for the sake of truth has to be, immutable. The "right to be forgotten" is the right to break any concept of online reputation.

If you want to control your narrative, maybe don't post thoughtlessly and publicly.


> If you want to control your narrative, maybe don't post thoughtlessly and publicly.

I am not posting thoughtlessly. What I am saying is that there is just a million ways that anything can be interpreted in the future that you have no way of foreseeing.


Even a silence can be interpreted in such manner. Should we be able to retrospectively edit the past if it somehow concerns us? Seriously, given how stirred up things are, it's not unrealistic to imagine that someone would want you to "feel guilty" of not posting something in the past.

This is not a tech problem (at all). This is a social problem that had existed since forever, but now uncovered by technology's availability. And if the agreed solution to the "world's gone mad" is to grant one legal ability to alter other's memories, then the world's truly gone mad.


The web should be considered WRITE ONLY. We should NOT remove content.

However, that doesn't mean that annotating content or making it more clear that a different (Firstname Lastname) did something might be a better response. For example, I have never created an account on facebook, linkedin, twitter, etc. I refuse to give any one company a defacto monopoly over social discourse and interaction; those tools belong on OPEN, FREE (libre+beer), well defined minimum interoperable standard platforms. Currently that's email; it really sucks, but the standard is well defined, anyone /can/ implement it without barriers, and everyone is forced to federate to at least some degree.


>The web should be considered WRITE ONLY. We should NOT remove content.

It isn't and it has never been.

Given that different countries have different laws and yet all claim to universal application of their laws can you imagine how many people would be killed because of this?

Atheists taken off planes form Arab Emirates flights because they posted about god. Homosexual activists getting assassinated by Russia. Europeans being arrested in the US because of the difference in age of consent.

The web is ephemeral and should be anonymous.


The web has and never will be anonymous, things might disappear due to lack of interest. But you just can't unring the bell either.


"the web" ... all of it? That seems impratical.

Immutable data structures have their place in programming, and immutable communication has it's place in society, but neither are appropriate for all use-cases.


You're arguing that the knowledge being public is somehow different from truth. I disagree with this - facts must be available. Google must be a source of information. Search engines are the interface to the web - removing information from a search engine is tantamount to erasing it from memory. The idea that people have the right to hide their pasts is a ridiculous assertion - it goes against freedom of speech, it goes against freedom of the press in the most literal sense, and it benefits people who truly did bad things the most.

If I made an offensive tweet in 2007, I'd stand by it, and assert that it's my tweet but I'm also a different person. Personal integrity would demand no less. Hiding behind a "privacy" law to conceal something you shouted from the rooftops in 2007 is a disingenuous position to take.


Counter-example: What if someone accused you of raping her/him and that news remains online close to your name because it's a typical scandal and heavily reported but, when it is proven that you didn't commit the crime, there is no news reporting it because it's not a clicky article?

It happens frequently, not only with rape, but with any false accusation of a major crime... Typically there are a lot of articles about it but if you are proven innocent no main source reports it.

Now, would you want that information to remain online and to appear instantly anytime some HR look for your name after reading it in your cv?


Counter solution: Outlaw publishing suspect names until after they are convicted.

This model is used by other nations because regulating publications prevents both short and long-term harm while still preserving access to the truth.


Seems like a very dangerous road to go down.

My parents abused me, however, they were never convicted of a crime in a court of law because nobody ever reported them. The statue of limitations has almost certainly passed by now so they are unable to be convicted. Are you suggesting it should be illegal for me to say that my parents abused me?

Same with Bill Cosby's accusers, the statue of limitations has passed on all of those. Should those women really not be legally allowed to have their voices heard?

I can't see this leading anywhere except an authoritarian regeme where court proceedings are conducted in secret - after all, the suspect is being publicly accused on crime in court.


I think losteric was proposing a confidentiality rule that would only apply to the government, not to private citizens.


and government employees never reveal high-interest confidential information /s


And what happens when the false conviction is overturned?


In that case make it required by law to publish apology following same format as was the original article. Did you print the false claim on title page of newspaper? Same place, same size for and apology. Same with web articles. That should at least make it searchable by engines.


That information has already been dissiminated. And usually has a higher hit-rate than any correction.

We know employers can and have discriminated against individuals where convictions have been overturned.


Relevancy is a problem that firmly falls under Google's responsibility... and businesses must be punished for discriminating over incomplete background checks.

However, I don't think the false conviction should be hidden - what if they were guilty and there's a crimes down the road? That information could be useful for the public.


Saying "X was convicted of Y" is not a "false claim," when X really was convicted of Y. If X's conviction is later overturned, that's additional information, but it doesn't make the original information false.

Nobody owes anyone an apology.


This is not a universally adopted solution, and for good reason. Publishing the suspect's name/face as well as the details of the alleged crime encourages witnesses to come forward. Plus, from a free speech perspective, it seems crazy to criminalize the publishing of true information, especially when it directly relates to public safety and the government's exercise of its police powers.


Saying investigators are interested in the details surrounding individuals at the time of a crime (and presenting those individuals, not even as suspects, but merely as 'persons for which additional information is desired') is a truthful and accurate statement and does not assert any actual accusation of guilt. As such a fact it should be part of the public record regarding such a matter.


Society will treat you as a convicted criminal even if you're a suspect.


Publishing names and faces as established criminals is inherently contradictory with an impartial jury of your peers.

Faces, I can see that but journalists must be very explicit... "This is the suspect who allegedly did xyz".


What if the final verdict is also in news reporting but your accussor want it the final verdict news to be forgotten?


Platform owners are constantly changing things, removing content, and revising their TOS to take away any and all control from individuals. Is there any doubt as to how this is going to end?


> should we eliminate it as a source of truth?

From my point of view, Google eliminated itself long ago: it's already intentionally very biased, distorting the reality by design, different to every of its users: adjusting the "algorithm" to return to the seeker what the seeker would click the most and also what the Google's marketing would like to present, even to the point of intentionally ignoring the very words you entered in the search(!).

Just try to find somebody with whom you seriously disagree on some topic then ask him/her kindly to "google" the same terms related to that topic and to let you see what he/she sees. Compare.


I know you already say that is your point of view, but I think this very much in the eye of the beholder. I very much like this personalization and it makes it easier to find things I'm looking for. E.g. when I search `latex` I don't want to find latex bodysuits, I want results about LaTeX and I expect Google to know that.

That said, it would be nice if there was an easy way to turn off this search personalization on a search-by-search basis in a similar manner to how one can look for results from a certain time period


If you just speak about the positive aspects, you obviously never compared what you surely know to be truth, related to some "controversial" topic, with what some other people get when they search for the same topic, especially those who have different opinion of what "the truth" is.

Not counting that even that "magnification of the confirmation" is additionally modified for some topics by the "editorial" policies of Google.


> That said, it would be nice if there was an easy way to turn off this search personalization on a search-by-search basis

it is, it's called anonymous window


You are talking about incognito mode / private browsing right?

When I open an incognito tab and search for “latex”, the entire first page of results is still all about LaTeX for me and I would bet my left hand that this is not universally true.

In other words, you are still seeing personalized results.


Yup, I tried the same thing. I would guess they are still doing some sort of server-side personalization and/or identification, they just don't continue to track you via cookies. For me it wasn't that surprising, I tried doing this from an IP address associated with a large CS dept.


the point of the right to be forgotten is if you did something stupid at some point and it is always available and super easy to find then anyone can always look you up and say hey did a stupid thing let's not hire them or maybe we should proactive and do something to them because the stupid thing was not just stupid but also maybe bad.

So yes it is the right to hide the past to the extent that it should not be super easy to get all available dirt on anyone at any time anybody gets nosy or irritated. But if you are willing to put in weeks of work to find out that someone once smoked pot or burned an american flag or whatever you can still put in those weeks of work.


This. Thank you.


Google cannot become our only source of truth, but should we eliminate it as a source of truth?

No we should not, the law seems well intentioned, some kid may not have to worry about an embarrassing photo from university days following him/her around into their adult life, etc. But I think it would be an overall net negative for abuse in hiding truly relevant information.


>But I think it would be an overall net negative for abuse in hiding truly relevant information.

You say that, but according to some reports, only 5% of requests to Google to remove personal information from search results comes from high-profile figures (politicians and the like), the rest is just ordinary people [1]. I know that there is a huge selection bias going on here, but I'm not sure you can discount the data point just based off of that.

[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jul/14/google-ac...


I don't know if the volume of requests is as important as the nature of the request. If part of the 5%, let's say it's high profile person due to running a large ponzi scheme that defrauded people out of millions of dollars, that may be only one request but it is info that most definitely should be easily surfaced.


Do you understand the Diff between a search engine and "Public Record"? "knowledge is power, and search engines are the map". Hey kid, there's a whole world out there that's not your google. Libraries have books, City Hall has public records. How about get off your butt and learn how real research is done. Hint: it's not on facebook, google, or twitter.


Rather a lot of journalists and writers (and an increasing number of academics) would disagree with you...


Not to mention doctors. It's not that real research can't be done in libraries or magazines, or even that google is better, it's just that different tools are suited to different tasks, and some of those tools are google.


Why are we only forcing Google to remove this information when, as you say, it will still be in the public record. Why are journalists allowed to report on something that we aren't allowing a search engine to show?


Why are we only forcing Google to remove this information when, as you say, it will still be in the public record.

Because ease of access makes all the difference, and it is disingenuous to argue otherwise.

This law won't protect Trump from having his bankruptcies reported but it will protect someone who made a stupid mistake when they were younger having it haunt them for the rest of their careers or lives because it would otherwise have been the top hit when you google'd their name. It will still be there for anyone willing to put in the effort to find it of course. Just like it was in the old days.

Google will happily ruin that person's life forever for a few cents in ad clicks. Think about that.


>it will protect someone who made a stupid mistake when they were younger having it haunt them for the rest of their careers or lives because it would otherwise have been the top hit when you google'd their name.

I don't agree that this will protect anyone, or that they need to be protected in the first place. This is just hiding the problem that someone would judge you for whatever the content is.

In my opinion the real solution here is to be more understanding to stupid things people have done in the past. Nobody is perfect, so why are you letting whatever that story on Google is affect your judgement of the person, assuming they learned from whatever it was.


>I don't agree that this will protect anyone, or that they need to be protected in the first place. This is just hiding the problem that someone would judge you for whatever the content is.

You can't deny that the advent of social media has brought about a MUCH bigger problem of people getting fired, judged, or their lives ruined by stupid mistakes, posts online of a single comment they made, etc. These things aren't _new_ occurrences. People have always made stupid remarks; people have always done stupid things. The difference now is that it's trivially easy for me to go find some idiotic thing you did as a teenage that you've outgrown, and point to it as a way to ruin your life if I want to. All it would cost me is a little money to Google or Facebook. Back in the day, an attempt to truly ruin someone's life like this would require _digging_. If the person deserves it to happen to them (which is almost never), then people will go through the effort. But for the casual assholes who think it funny to SWAT someone or to call up embarrassing photos because that person called them a bad word, this barrier to entry would prevent them from doing something about it.


> You can't deny that the advent of social media has brought about a MUCH bigger problem of people getting fired, judged, or their lives ruined by stupid mistakes, posts online of a single comment they made, etc.

I only heard about this anecdotally. Do you have any data on such a huge increase in firings etc.? That would be quite interesting.


Maybe one day a stint at Google (or Facebook or Uber) will be the red flag that impacts someone's career, "smart, but no regard for user's privacy, think we'll pass on this candidate". They are rapidly heading that way.


By that same token, it's much easier to discover who the real idiots, bigots, assholes, etc. are, and then to apply appropriate social sanctions. It may suck for some people, but if we keep these people visible, then eventually maybe there will be fewer of them.


Everyone can make stupid mistakes, and the amount of repercussions that you can end up with can be really small or really big regardless of the actual significance of what you said or what you did, because the world does not hold a single, consistent set of morals and opinions, nor are we good at passing judgement in a fair and consistent manner.

Furthermore, context matters, but context is the first thing that gets lost online.

Something that was said or done in one context can be perfectly fine in that context while at the same time that thing can be completely unacceptable in another context.

We need not and we should not strive to keep a record of everything. It is important that we are able to forget.

The world at large is not capable of ensuring due process. Real lives of innocent people are ruined. People are driven to suicide. All because the public formed a narrative about someone based on incomplete or otherwise inaccurate information.

I wish for compassion and forgiveness.


real idiots, bigots, assholes, etc

One tweet taken out of context we’ve seen many examples of is enough to ignite an epic shitstorm. No. You’re just proposing further destruction of public discourse and civility.


That's not really the way business works, though. If one of your employees is the top result on Google for a dumb meme, it could be a liability to the business' image with clients. Hence, you don't take the risk of hiring them over someone else, even if the dumb memer is more qualified and a better fit overall. It simply wouldn't be worth the risk if there's other, less qualified but less risky, potential hires.


this is why anti discrimination laws exist, work on applying that.


There's good discrimination and bad discrimination from hiring perspective. Every company should discriminate their employees they want to hire, just not based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. There's no laws about discriminating against people with less experience or worse public images, and shouldn't be.


anti discrimination laws are only relevant to protected classes in the states, as far as i know, and "did something stupid when they were younger" is not one


> In my opinion the real solution here is to be more understanding to stupid things people have done in the past.

If you think the real solution is to change the way the world thinks about, and judges, everyone else then you're being remarkably naive.


> If you think the real solution is to change the way the world thinks about, and judges, everyone else then you're being remarkably naive.

This isn't a response, it's an insult. Two well educated, equally experienced people can come two two seperate conclusions, without one being "naive". Try and argue always assuming that the person your taking to is equally intelligent as you.

Regardless, treating the symptom (Search engines displaying old news stories) of the problem (people judging others irrationally), without treating the problem itself will only cause equally bad, if not worse, issues to pop up elsewhere. The vast majority of times a state censors information, it ends up being harmful far past what was initially intended (the red scare/McCarthyism, DMCA, FOSTA, SOPA/PIPA, etc).


>Because ease of access makes all the difference,

But every inconvenience presents a business opportunity that will inevitably be seized upon so long as the information being sought after is still considered part of the public record. The public record consists of all information that the public has a right to know. A more honest solution would actually declare certain information privileged and make it illegal for websites to publicize it.


Isn't this eerily close to a right to be forgiven, which is not at all a right? If you make a stupid mistake when you're young, then what's wrong with me judging you for the rest of your life? The Government shouldn't hide the knowledge from me because they think I ought to give you another chance, that should be up to me to decide.


By that argument the government shouldn’t allow you to have an anonymous nickname on a web forum either. You’re denying everyone their right to judge you, aren’t you?


I don't really support the right to be forgotten specifically for the reasons the gp poster outlined, but that needs to be addressed with the governing body making the law. I am still against the perception that if it's not on Google it never happened.


The post above shows a complete misunderstanding of the issue. "Right to be forgotten" laws apply as much to other sources of information as they do to Google. The discussion has become a bad version of "telephone", people responding to quotes in the parent rather than knowing anything about the issue in question.

The question of whether one uses Google or other sources is irrelevant here. Sure, journalists could go to find public records and not be able to be published because of the law (because their article wouldn't be listed etc).


No they don't. They explicitly don't apply to journalism. That's the entire point of this. Right to be forgotten laws don't allow you to censor the intercept (a publication), but do allow you to force aggregators to remove the publication.

That's why people try to get things delisted from Google, because they can't get the original publisher to remove them.


Note: I should add "effectively apply" to my above post. If journalist articles can't be found on aggregators, they being effectively censored even if they are allowed to be published.

That's the entire point of this. Right to be forgotten laws don't allow you to censor the intercept (a publication), but do allow you to force aggregators to remove the publication.

If you can prevent a journalists' article from ever being found, you have effectively censored it. Especially, this would impact a journal outside the "top 100" - Someone could conceivably search the 50 or 100 top publications but after that you need an aggregator. So essentially this would censor journalism.

And to my original point, it's not just about Google in particular since the alternative to Google is pretty much some other aggregator.


>If you can prevent a journalists' article from ever being found, you have effectively censored it.

Oh this I 100% agree with. Information isn't information if it can't be found. (And noting that I'm employed by Google) I don't at all find the argument that "we can't prevent you from publishing something, but we can prevent it from being accessed" not compelling. Does it apply to newspaper anthologies or hard copy aggregation?


This is effectively giving the government power to decide what is legal speech and what isn't, no thanks. And yes I know defamation laws already do give them this power kindam but I still find them disgusting.


> Removed from google != removed from public record.

"It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'"

I'm imagining a subscription-based aggregator - something like LexisNexis, say - that isn't subject to the same right-to-be-forgotten laws that search engines are.

It at least seems possible that we'll end up with a situation analogous to the credit scoring industry - with data accessible to corporations, but not accessible to individuals.


> Google CANNOT become our only source of truth.

Unfortunately we live in a world where if something is not listed in Google's SERP, we doubt it exists.


And we argue about how that power should be used, when we should be trying to limit that power instead.


> If Trump were to have his bankruptcies "forgotten" by google

... would Google be allowed to link to stories that mention those bankruptcies?


The "right to be forgotten" applies to all search engines, and possibly other types of business as well. Google just happens to be the first company to get into trouble about it.


As much as I don't like this, a lot of people don't know how to acquire information online outside of google and Facebook.


What's your alternative here? If people can eliminate data from search engines, what does it matter if something is nominally part of some unfindable public record?

It's not like this "right to be forgotten" will apply only to Google. If Google folds, all search engines will surely respect it.


We're looking at potentially orders of magnitude difference in publicity here. I think the big question here is whether we can improve our societies by being intentional about what determines said magnitude.


Google is not the only source of information, but it is A source of information. Why should Google not be permitted to index public sources of information?


> Google CANNOT become our only source of truth.

Agreed. That said, should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be deleted from Google?


What would an alternative to google look like, even? You still need a search engine for archive.org, for example.


The right to be forgotten != Google


>Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten?

I think even Trump should be entitled to accurate public reporting, for example, it should be noted Trump has never personally filed for bankruptcy, rather, he has been the owner of companies (casinos) that have filed for bankruptcy.

Would you attribute the recent Toys R Us bankruptcy to individual owners? Or if your favorite startup goes under and has to declare bankruptcy to shield itself from creditors before the company dissolves would you start attributing bankruptcy to individual employees with equity/stock options?


> Would you attribute the recent Toys R Us bankruptcy to individual owners?

I wouldn't attribute it to the owners of individual stores, but the CEO? Absolutely

> Or if your favorite startup goes under and has to declare bankruptcy to shield itself from creditors before the company dissolves would you start attributing bankruptcy to individual employees with equity/stock options?

Trump wasn't an individual employee with stock options.


It should be noted im not sticking up for Trump, just addressing the idea of attributing a company bankruptcy to company owners as if they personally filed bankruptcy, as done by OP.

Still if you want to attribute the bankruptcies of companies to Trump personally because he was CEO...post a link, because I don’t think Trump was an employee of these companies at all, much less responsible for day to day operations of the casinos as CEO.

He was an owner for sure and likely sat on the board, not unlike many SV investors and VCs of startups that fail everyday.


The reason it's called the "Trump Organisation" is because it's unusual in that Trump literally just owns it. It's not a bunch of public companies with Trump happening to have some job like "Chief Executive" or "Chairman", it's personally owned outright by Donald J Trump (in a few cases the companies are co-owned, but mostly it's just Trump).


First OP was saying “his bankruptcies” now you are bringing up the “Trump Organization”...none of the above declared bankruptcy, four casinos declared bankruptcy of which Trump was a shareholder.

Yes the casinos have his name on them, but that doesn’t make him CEO, or an employee, the sole owner of these casinos, or mean when the casinos filed bankruptcy they were his personal bankruptcies.

You are right they were not public companies, but neither are startups and we don’t go out of our way to attribute failures and bankruptcies of startups to investors/owners or members of the board.


He was personally responsible for the decisions in at least 2 of the 4 bankruptcies, but the other 2 are more debatable.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/sep/...


That link doesn’t support your contention Trump was personally responsible, in fact it says:

>It’s not fair to put all the blame on Trump for the four bankruptcies because he’s acting as any investor would. Investors often own many non-integrated companies, which they fund by taking on debt, and some of them inevitably file for bankruptcy, said Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University.

And basically supports what what I suggest:

>He added that people typically wouldn’t personally blame former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or investor Warren Buffett for individual failures within their investment companies, Bain Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, respectively.

Despite the fact the guy pretends to be self-made (he isn’t), there is something to be said for someone who took a $10M loan from his father and turned it into a $1B+ Business empire. Sure there have been some individual business failures along the way (which his ego barely allows him to acknowledge), but it pretty funny SV with its ethos of not being afraid to fail and iterating, is so petty they extend 4 business bankruptcies (which were all chapter 11 reorganization’s) onto the man personally, but would never dare put that type of standard on SV investors (just as the article you linked suggests).


Read the first two.

1) He funded the construction of the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which opened in 1990. By 1991, the casino was nearly $3 billion in debt, while Trump had racked up nearly $900 million in personal liabilities, so the business decided to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, according to the New York Times. As a result, Trump gave up half his personal stake in the casino and sold his yacht and airline, according to the Washington Post.

2) As a result of the bankruptcy, in exchange for easier terms on which to pay off the debts, Trump relinquished a 49 percent stake in the Plaza to a total of six lenders, according to ABC News. Trump remained the hotel’s CEO, but it was merely a gesture -- he didn’t earn a salary and had no say in the hotel’s day-to-day operations

He had a lot to do with those two.


Doesn't seem dangerous or journalistic at all here. In the UK at least the legal system is already aware and deals quite reasonably with the right to be forgotten. Has done for years.

After a certain period a crime is considered spent and you can not be required to reveal it - except in some very limited circumstances. You'd have to reveal spent crimes if you want to join the police or become a magistrate for instance. You might want senior politicians added on this list perhaps.

If you got a fine or a short prison sentence, the period is relatively short. A long prison sentence for a serious offence is never considered spent. I think there is something of a sliding scale of how long a sentence takes to expire.

I would want essentially the same from the right to be forgotten. A citizen should not have to see Google reminding potential employers of a minor or youth offence 20 years ago when the legal system feels it expired ages ago.

Doesn't seem that complex to achieve either. So what would be the problem then?


>Doesn't seem that complex to achieve either. So what would be the problem then?

Since you're familiar with it, I'm curious how the following situations are handled...

There was a famous rape case involving a Stanford student. His name is Brock Turner.

If you search directly on keywords "Brock Turner"[1], the first results will be his rape conviction. I think it's logical to assume the Right To Be Forgotten wants these search results directly associated with his name to be removed.

But what about a level of indirection? What about searching for "The Stanford Rapist"[2]. Those results are also about Brock Turner. Are those removed as well?

What about another level of indirection? If one searches images for keywords "mugshot criminology textbook"[3], Brock Turner's photos are the most prominent. Would those get removed too?

What if the victim writes a popular blogpost, "I was raped by Brock Turner and here's my story...etc...", would her article be removed from the google results? What takes precedence? The victim's free speech or the felon's censorship powers granted by Right To Be Forgotten?

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=brock+turner

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=stanford+rapist

[3] https://www.google.com/search?q=mugshot+criminology+textbook...

(made possible because several reddit threads made it widely known that his photo was now in college textbooks: https://www.reddit.com/search?q=brock+turner)


> What about searching for "The Stanford Rapist"[2].[..] If one searches images for keywords [...]

Those would not be removed under the Right to be Forgotten as defined by the original verdict. The reasoning is that the individual is harmed most by people explicitly googling their name (i. e. recruiters, business partners, family etc). If you come to the article from the other side of the issue, it's far less likely that you're in a position of power vis-a-vis that person.

> What if the victim writes a popular blogpost,

Such an article would once again be subject to the Right to be Forgotten.

> What takes precedence? The victim's free speech or the felon's censorship powers granted by Right To Be Forgotten?

That's far too general a question to ask, and appears to be phrased with a certain outcome in mind.

Neither right is absolute. It all depends on the specific situation. It requires exactly the sort of balancing the judicial system is build for.


Well in the UK it would be based on sentence. I'm not sure of the usual severity of sentence for rape, but imprisonment is quite common and I think of a length to often never be spent. I think many would consider it a serious enough offence that you can't simply "move on" from it. Rape and murder probably should not be forgotten, bar room brawls at 19 probably should. The laws seem to try and have some awareness of that nuance.

A sentence of over 4 years prison, including suspended, would never be spent. Prison for six months would be considered spent after 2 years. However, sex offences are an exception covered by the sex offence register, which gives a different time line. 10 years or life I think, again depending on severity of sentence.

Thus he'd not be rehabilitated and forgotten by UK law until 2025 I think, so should not really be getting the right to be forgotten - it's too current.

The rehabilitation law itself covers insurance, employment, housing, media and so forth and has no awareness of any new media as it's from long before them. So it would solve the indirection via obfuscation: An old, spent, offence would be buried in some newspaper and court archives and probably only surface if someone was dedicated to digging into their background.

The EU right to be forgotten seems like a valiant, if perhaps a little clumsy, attempt to achieve a similar effect.


An interesting side note is that it is libellous to maliciously publish details of a spent conviction; truth is not a defence (though it is on the prosecution to prove that it was malicious, AFAIK).


And.. what about other Brock Turners that want to be HIGHER in the search results?


Why is Google the one that you're pointing the finger at? There's a website with that data, and if the website removed it, Google would forget it.

Also, you might want to consider the barrier to entry for a new search engine.


It's my understanding that the EU right to be forgotten legislation places the onus on the search engines to do the delinking. It's the search engines that have forms to submit requests to, not BBC, CNN and so on. It's the search that provides the visibility.

I've no idea if they considered barrier to entry or relative size when drafting the law or built in any limitations. Of course until an engine reaches some level of popularity it's unlikely to receive many or any removal requests, so should remain manageable for them. If it were the individual sites every site would need a policy and takedown request, just like most have now added something for DMCA requests. Doesn't that just put the barrier to entry up for everyone publishing a site?


I was asking you why. As a search engine developer, I'm very aware that the EU is trying to put me out of business before I start.

And yes, the DMCA is also a barrier to entry for search engines, but at least it's one that I understand well.


I think the EU is very aware that in the reality we live in, search engines are how people find stuff, not by looking through or searching directly on sites.

Thus, this is one of those times where the lawmakers actually looked at technology, and understood how it was used.

Also, making search engines responsible creates a far smaller surface area of contact than having every site that contains the content.


RTBF wasn't invented by lawmakers, it was invented by a European court.


You know what I find amazing in this entire debate?

We provide protections for literal objects in the form of DMCA and other various copyright systems. We provide legal enforcement for the right for these copyrighted systems to be forgotten on search engines. We threaten the rulebreakers with massive fines and prison time.

But when it comes to REAL people. People who can have their lives completely changed with wrong/very negative information about them being accessible everywhere we do nothing.

It's just fascinating.


Have you've ever been at the receiving end of a DMCA notice? If you have, you wouldn't use this analogy. DMCA is so utterly broken. There is no verification in the process and no real penalties for false claims. So people use it as a weapon to remove stuff they don't like, even if it has nothing to do with copyright.


I know.

That's exactly my point. If you have enough money you will be able to take down any information of yourself you don't want under the guise of DMCA or related copyright laws.


> If you have enough money

that's how world ruled by lawyers works in general


Many people arguing against GDPR, right to be forgotten, etc do not support the DMCA at all. In fact, most in my experience deeply oppose the DMCA and even IP in general.


DMCA was crappy and we should have never allowed it to be passed in the first place. It has been used to censor more than protect IP.


Seems like you're almost asking about others' right to know about a person's past crimes. So I'll ask it:

Should I be able to google my children's friends' parents before I let them spend the night over there? I use this case because it wouldn't provide the basis of legal background check and presumably google would be my only source of info. Or does the right to be forgotten not apply to child abuse crimes?


Do you need to know about their parking tickets or embezzlement, though? Or that time they partied too hard 25 years ago? Outside of specific circumstances, having every mistake you've ever made accessible at a glance is not really good for society.


Um... yes? I'd probably want to know that information. And I'd also know that partying too hard 25 years ago probably doesn't have any bearing on their current behavior. But if they had been to jail for embezzling money? Yeah, I might have a problem with that.

Just give me the information, and let me decide how to interpret it.

The Right To Be Forgotten not only denies me the information in the first place, but it allows someone to selectively curate the information out there about them to tell the story they want to tell about themselves. Sure, maybe partying too hard 25 years ago isn't relevant anymore, but being convicted of child abuse 10 years ago certainly is. If it's just as easy to erase references to the latter as it is for the former, that's a problem. And what perfectly objective and moral party should decide what bits of info are ok to delist, and what should remain? I don't think any of us would trust that such an entity exists.


I can understand the case for allowing someone to have their speeding tickets forgotten, but if you believe that, the correct response is that the government shouldn’t publish speeding tickets.

(I could be wrong, but I think parking tickets are aren’t published in the US, while speeding tickets are).


I don't believe even most speeding tickets are a matter of public record, as citations and not criminal proceedings.


Child abuse? If your child's friend's parent is a known child abuser, why do they have their own child staying with them? It shouldn't even come down to that. You should meet them maybe, or give your children a phone so they can contact you if something goes wrong. Or just don't worry about it so much in the first place.

Either way, I don't see why paranoia should be used as a driver of policy. You can "think of the children" all day long, but most of us have been children and remember it well enough to know we didn't need to be though of that much.


It's not uncommon for children to live with formerly abusive parents. Drugs, alcoholism. The system is supposed to help parents be able to reunite.

(Sexual abuse is almost always another story, though.)


I mean, it's in the police blotter that's published in the newspaper. Assuming you still have a local newspaper, that is.

I'm not specifically aware of whether this is the case, but I would hope that the results of deliberations by criminal courts is public information.


So you're seriously suggesting that someone should have to go to their local library and wade through years of back issues to see if their child's friend's parents have committed a crime? And also travel to whatever other places they've lived to do the same? All because blah blah right to be forgotten, so google etc. isn't allowed to index the relevant articles? That's absurd.


That's almost exactly the opposite of what I'm arguing. I'd argue that previously, all of this information was on file, and accessible, and relatively well-known. Google delisting it is the weird, anomalous development.


> all of this information was on file, and accessible, and relatively well-known

But there is a big difference between having information at your fingertips in a searchable database, and having to go to a library and do the searching manually.

Perhaps google could provide the information after the user solved 1000 captchas :)


So if my local newspaper digitized their archive, they'd suddenly be in violation of user's privacy?


There is a huge gulf between what a public person can do under the right to be forgotten and what a private individual that is not otherwise notable can do.


>Why should people have the right to have things they don't like wiped from the historical record?

Because a judicial process made that determination. Random people don't decide anything, they petition.

As an aside, there absolutely nothing journalistic about an advertising company like Google.

>This "right to be forgotten" seems incredibly dangerous to me.

It doesn't seem like that to me at all. The purpose is also to protect victims of revenge porn, or victims of slanderous propaganda, who have no other recourse.


You bring up a good point but I think the difference is the severity of the piece of information in question. Pedophilia and bankruptcies are already considered special bits of data that have their own dedicated information registries that maintain this information.

Up until this point in history it hasn't been feasible to do the same thing for every minute detail of every person's lives. This lack of feasibility is probably why the debate regarding this subject is unfortunately so far behind reality.


Google says it is protecting people from still-predatory actors:

> The claimants ... argue that since their crimes are decades old, they should be able to move on from their past. .... Google counters that the information is in the public interest, and still relevant given that the nature of the claimants’ business has not changed dramatically in the ensuing years.

Google is being picky about what to remove and, in this case, go to great lengths to back up their judgment. What is motivating them? Do they want to preserve information for its own sake, or for their own relevance as a search engine? Or both?

> [Google] reported that it rejects more than half of the requests it receives, but did not provide insight as to why.

The statistics of who wants things removed, and why, are surely very interesting. Here's a report from Google (linked from the article):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H4MKNwf5MgeztG7OnJRnl3ym3gI...

Edit: Oops I should have read further!

> England’s Information Commissioner ... warned that if the court sided with Google, it would completely defang the original ruling. “In effect,” she wrote, Google “would be able to operate the right to be forgotten regime almost entirely free from regulatory oversight and control.”

Is Google looking for a blanket exemption?


> Seems pretty journalistic to me. This "right to be forgotten" seems incredibly dangerous to me. Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten? Do we give child molesters the right for their crimes to be forgotten? Why should people have the right to have things they don't like wiped from the historical record?

The right to be forgotten only extends to people that are not public personalities, and only to facts that either are invalid (with proof), or irrelevant, but potentially harmful (e.g. you might argue that a ban you received on a minecraft server when you were 14yo, but which shows up as first result for your name on Google, would negatively impress employers, without having factual relevance).

The right to be forgotten has specifically exemptions for all the cases you mentioned.


Should the government be able to decide what facts are irrelevant to the public, or too harmful to allow the public to know? You don't think that sets a dangerous precedent for abuse?


> what facts are irrelevant to the public

It should be in the form of broad categories, minimizing the risk of abuse.

> too harmful to allow the public to know

Totally different topic.


The legislative has made laws which the courts have interpreted for this task since time immortal, and the legislative will make laws which the courts interpret for this task until our civilization ends.

So, yes, they should. Without this, no rehabilitation is ever possible, every childhood mistake will affect you in your job.


> Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten? Do we give child molesters the right for their crimes to be forgotten?

The right to erasure (right to be forgotten) does not protect this.

It refers to a very specific right that does have real limitations.

The ICO has written some specific guidance about this that might be helpful in your understanding.

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-da...


I think the judicial system should account for the permanent damage to reputation of crimes in sentencing (e.g. reduce sentence because you know it will have lasting impact) and we shouldnt encourage this history rewriting bs


It is not wiped from the historical record. It is about not finding the article at the top if you search the name of the person.

The justice system has a perfectly fine systems for storing and expunging criminal records over time, and you can still find the article if you specifically google the event.

Child molester is probably the worst example, since they have specific lists, exclusions zones, and warning system attached to their presence, nobody should rely on google to find if their new teacher is a child molester.


Seems pretty journalistic to me.

You might want to think about what the basic definition of "journalism" is, then. And how maintaining a relentlessly detailed, universally accessible dossier on the 1 percent of the population that qualifies as truly notable persons (such as politicians or notorious criminals) -- i.e. what traditional "journalists" do -- is in fact, quite different from ...

maintaining such a dossier on everyone, which is what Google does.


From a legal and censorship standpoint, I absolutely want entities like Google search to be defined as journalists.

Just because something falls under a legal classification, it doesn't mean we'd start calling Google search a journalist in colloquial usage.


The issue is that Google claims to be a "journalist" when it thinks it prevents them from having to do what they don't want to do (delist things), and then claims to be "just a platform" when it thinks it prevents them from having to do what they don't want to do (take responsibility for content on their platforms).

Google wants it both ways, in whichever way is momentarily convenient. Almost everyone's comments on Right To Be Forgotten in this thread miss that key issue.


I don't really see a problem with that concept in a general sense. Google should absolutely use the law to its advantage wherever it can. We as citizens (who presumably are able to influence our elected representatives) need to close loopholes in those laws when Google uses them to do things we don't like.


It sounds like you see no problem with selectively manipulating the English language to drum up support for legal outcomes "absolutely want" to happen, then.


It's not manipulating the English language, though. It's merely interpreting the law in a way that's favorable to someone's particular interest. As I said, no one would seriously start calling Google a "journalist" in colloquial usage. Calling them a "journalist" in a legal sense is an entirely different thing, and legal definitions of things are already often unintuitive from a "pure English" sense.


I think you have a point that "right to be forgotten" could be abused to censor the truth.

But at the same time, perhaps there needs to be a way to de-emphasize older truths? For example if Alice did something 10-20 years ago, should that appear in the first page of the search results? Perhaps it should be ranked lower due to age.

Perhaps search engines could have a memory system similar to humans. Older stuff is gradually forgotten or de-emphasized or turn blurry.

A humane memory system.


> Perhaps search engines could have a memory system similar to humans. Older stuff is gradually forgotten or de-emphasized or turn blurry.

I think this is what is in mind in terms of a "right to be forgotten". Not the large things, but the small bullet points from 10+ years ago that, in a sane world, would be completely ludicrous to compare with your current self.


In fact Trump's bankruptcies have been forgotten. The point of bankruptcy is that after a few years they disappear from your record. People who deal in credit are not allowed to know of any of trump's past bankruptcies (after a few years), they are gone and he starts over with a clean sheet.

As others have pointed out, Trump hasn't actually declared bankruptcy. There is an interesting debate about that in other threads, read them there.


If you are specifically searching for child molesters, you can find that information in other databases without necessarily searching for specific names. If it really matters, e.g. for a job, you'd want to be checking their criminal record, not google.

If someone searches for your name, google has no way of determining if they are looking for your LinkedIn profile or reports of alleged criminal activity from you, nor does it have journalistic resources to determine if said reports are accurate or to edit them in light of new data.

It's already possible to game google into indexing fake testimonials for scam purposes, as well as push old results off with a barrage of recent activity. Bad actors can always find ways to misdirect and deleting is only but one way. Isn't it fine that delisting just remains astronomically more laborious to do as the volume of reports of badness increase?

Siding with google seems more like a passive aggressive way of getting an ego massage out of "punishing" things one does not like, but it kinda throws out the baby with the bath water.


> Should we give Trump the right for his bankruptcies to be forgotten?

Those records are all available in a publicly accessible registry maintained by the goverment.

> Do we give child molesters the right for their crimes to be forgotten?

You have the sexual offender registry for those things.

> Why should people have the right to have things they don't like wiped from the historical record?

No, it's about people's mind not being immutable. I used to believe in Santa ~25 years ago, if I would have made a viral tweet about it back then, should I be barred from joining a scientific community today?

Even Eric Schmidt said that young people should get a reset button once they become of age.

My rule of thumb is that: the authorities and law enforcement should have monopoly over maintaining information that should stick with you forever, not some private company that is even more unaccountable than the government.


Hardly. I work for a media company, and they were very clear to us that they are a provider and not media company, and have no editorial stance, nor do they do any journalism.

They can't have it both ways I'm afraid.

However, it's pretty ridiculous really. If they claim to be journalists, then it should be possible to also sue them for defamation if they publish defamatory material. Currently you can't because, quite rightly, they use safe harbour provisions to prevent being sued. They are now sailing into waters where they are at risk of not being able to claim this.

The folks at Google haven't thought this through clearly.


Um... there are some things that are designed specifically without the right to be forgotten... Like credit, taxes, etc. The point of the right to be forgotten is to allow us to ask for services to remove all information because they are NOT these special (usually government controlled) services or systems.

Nobody in their right mind is arguing that a criminal can log onto some crime.gov and say "plz delete me", for example.


I pretty much agree with you. The "right to be forgotten" may as well be called "the right to suppress information".


But it might be safer to start with the right to be forgotten then start outlining exceptions to that, instead of the other way around.


Why is forgetting the default instead of remembering? You assume that it's better for all of us if we default forget, but that's probably not how you treat your own information, or what you know about others. Isn't more transparency a good thing? Do the government, public figures, elected figures, law enforcement, your doctor and those who provide you medical care have the right to force you to forget everything about them?


so when you forgive someone you never forget? Sure you list some good examples to remember but there are far more reasons to forget. To remember should be meaningful. Should anything other people believe to be bad always be remembered of you? If this was the case everyone would hate everyone.


Reputation is the foundation of trust. If you can’t use the presence of absence of deragatory records as a signal, you need to be much more conservative in your dealings with people and create upfront constraints, since retroactive accountability isn’t an option.


> when you forgive someone you never forget?

I'm sorry, are you arguing that not forgiving governments, elected officials, and people in positions of power and authority (or those seeking such power) is a problem in our society? Like, the US, the country that elected Trump, is having a problem with forgiving/forgetting past transgressions?

> but there are far more reasons to forget.

If there are that many, why didn't you name them?

> If this was the case everyone would hate everyone.

Hate isn't the issue. We're talking about real world problems with consequences. Evil doesn't just go away because you forgive it, people who are harmed are still harmed, and costs incurred need to be paid. If you just forgive and forget naively, that means the people who are hurt just keep paying, over and over. And the people who take advantage of it just keep winning forever.


Perhaps those who wish to be 'forgotten' should obtain permission from those that they have injured.


Trump is a public figure, and I'm pretty sure there is a public figure exception within GDPR to the right to be forgotten.


And if he wasn't? And become one only after applying his "right to be forgotten"? Would that make any difference?


It would still be in the public record. Nothing would stop someone from digging it up and writing an article about it.


Honestly, i believe the damage to ones life should stop when the judicial system has said the debt to society has been paid.

One reason i desire to see more convict employment advocate groups


Sad you have been downvoted, I largely agree.


There should be an exclusion for public figures. We have plenty of exclusions for them regarding privacy already.


There is.


spoken like a person with no history. Imagine youre in college and everyone sees you according to the construct of who you "appeared" in grammar school, or for that matter High school. It's like that. You should have the right to have to dumb stuff you did in college,or high school to not follow you forever. If you're not an adult already (30+ years)then you'll understand this eventually. We see the world and others as a mirror of ourselves. It's also telling that the first place you went to was the land of criminal intent. By the way child molesters are a legal situation different from Google's search engine. They HAVE TO BY LAW announce themselves when moving to a new location. They HAVE TO BY LAW appear on child molester website list. Those are separate from Google's search engine. You will still be able to go to www.lawwebsite.com and "find a pedo". sheesh.


Or maybe you should just own it and put those things behind you with a laugh. This gives the government way too much power over who knows what, the ability to erase things as they see fit, and all that so that you can avoid a bit of embarassment, to me, sounds ridiculous.


As I recall from "The man who spent 100,000$ to remove himself from google," the "right to be forgotten" specifically targets falsehoods and lies.

So no, Trump's bankruptcies won't be forgotten in this system, but a false accusation of child molestation can be.


I think the "right to be forgotten" law has larger scope than that actually, although I'm definitely not a lawyer.

> After a request is filled, their removals team reviews the request, weighing "the individual's right to privacy against the public's right to know", deciding if the website is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_be_forgotten


Why the team in google has right to decide whether someone's privacy is worth more or less than some public interest?


Because someone has to. We can't have a world where I can just declare any search result violates my privacy, and Google isn't allowed to say I'm wrong.


Seems sensible to me.


But these guys were convicted of these crimes, no? That makes this information that's trying to be removed in this case pretty clearly not a lie. Unless i'm missing something here.

I think i'm cautiously in favor of the standard you propose though, if that is indeed the standard.


There were stories about people that spent years in jail, but at some point new evidence was found clearing them. I believe these people deserve the things they were wrongly accused of, to be forgotten.


I know of someone who's managed to rewrite the history of how his business came into being and its later success through a combination of 'right to be forgotten' and promotional pieces in the media.

There used to be plenty of material contradicting his version of events (which I know to be factual) but, today, you can't find any of it.

You could say all this material was 'falsehood and lies' but, in the absence of any public record, who is the arbiter of truth here?

Seems to me, it's whoever has the money to do it?


We already have laws to address falsehoods and lies (libel/slander).

This whole "right to be forgotten" thing just seems like a good way for wealthy people to hide inconvenient facts from public view. If it was really about falsehoods and lies, why wouldn't they go to court with the existing laws?


In yesterday's article, because the person submitting stuff was not in the United States. The reason the victim had to spend 100,000$ on legal fees was because of how difficult it was to get jurisdiction.

If the US based Google was responsible, it would be easier for people without that kind of money to protect themselves, wouldn't it?


I don't know, but it's a good argument to have.


Why should people have the right to have things they don't like wiped from the historical record?

Your criminal record is expunged after a time. This is about whether Google is above the law of the land.


No it isn't


Depends on the country and severity of the crime


I see a lot of people claim that this is just about having information at the top of a search result, and I agree that's better than outright censorship.

But, I still take some small amount of umbrage with people claiming that nothing is being erased, just people's ability to find it. I think that's a very blurry line to draw - the idea the it's OK for information to exist somewhere in the void, but making it too easy to access is not OK.

The intent behind rules like this is to make it much harder for people to access information. If Google isn't the Internet, and delisting won't suppress speech, then what value is the law? If Google is the Internet, and delisting from their site will hide information from the public, then how is this not censorship?

There's no point in getting myself delisted from Google unless I expect that this will prevent most people from being able to find my information. People search names on Google because they want that information. The only way I can see for GDPR to stay effective or valuable in hiding me from those people is if it becomes a blanket ban on indexing or curation in general.


I agree with this. I am surprised that rather than trying to define itself as journalistic, Google isn't trying to present itself as an archivist (I am unaware if this has any legal meaning).

I wonder what would happen if an explicitly archival service like the Wayback Machine got itself a state of the art search algorithm and became widely used in casual search. Would it also be required to delist?


I see here a few comments criticizing the right to be forgotten, but I pose a question a bit differently.

Let us assume somebody commits a crime. He goes to jail, he pays for it, as society deems necessary.

A local newspaper reported it and now every time you google their name such an article pops up. This makes every person they might do business with to withdraw.

It seems to me the debt to society has been paid by going to jail, and yet they keep paying by having the news of their mistake be very prominent.

What is the right course of action, in this case?

Note that the difference between traditional newspapers is their general availability. Now the entire history is just a few clicks away, whereas with paper you need to go look for it specifically to find it, so it's a LOT less damaging.

What does HN think about this?


It sounds like the actual problem is

>This makes every person they might do business with to withdraw.

Hiding information from people sounds like a bandaid to the issue of people being overly judgemental. Maybe we need to be more accepting to rehabilitation.


Maybe instead of relying on humans to suddently act differently than they ever have in thousands of years, we could just remove the stupid link.

I mean, listen to yourself. Rather than an easy, technical solution, for a very limited and well defined problem, you're proposing we instead just wait until the billions upon billions of people on earth suddenly wise up, hit nirvana, sing Kum ba yah, and _be less judgemental_? So that, what, a giant, wealthy corporation isn't mildly bothered?


But there is no law that is crafted for this "very limited and well defined problem". "Right to be forgotten" goes much further than that. I can tentatively agree that for your proposed situation, it's unfair enough to former felons that it may require government intervention. Unfortunately, there's just no legislation that is focused and limited in scope in this regard; instead, the move is to broader, looser and vaguer laws like the GDPR.

If we have to consider the reality of the situation for felons, we must also face the reality that they don't really seem to be the end goal, but just a story to placate worries about overregulation and censorship.


> Rather than an easy, technical solution

If I am a search engine, and don’t comply, I am going to jail. It’s not easy nor technical.


The real problem is internet makes everything look like it happened yesterday. Traditional news is, well, news, but Google doesn’t really distinguish between yesterday and 20 years ago. Some 90s articles and pages are still perfectly relevant and should be on the first page of search results, others very much not so.


It does, though. The problem is that the most generally notable thing about a boring person who committed a serious crime 20 years ago is in fact the serious crime that they committed 20 years ago.

Put another way, if I put the name of my new neighbor into Google, the resulting webpage I would in fact most want to see as the result would definitely be the article on the murder they committed 20 years ago, even though they have a Facebook page that was updated 10 minutes ago. Facebook page can be result number 2.

If Google didn't show that result at all because it happened 20 years ago, and that person never did anything else notable more recently, I would consider Google to be a little broken.


Most people didn't commit murder 20 years ago but may have had a car accident or organized a loud party with weed while in college.

People change and your neighbor now has a family and lives quietly. It seems unfair the world should know him about his past mistakes


The same notability argument is still valid. It is not that search engines are broken, but the society which would view something that happened 20 years ago, while being the most notable fact about given person, as relevant for anything else than conversation-starter is broken.


This is a interesting point. You could imagine a partial simplistic solution that de ranked historical information for people unless it is specifically being asked for. It’s not clear that a search for a person’s “Bob Smith” nessacarily is interested in Bob’s 20 year old crimes, they might reasonably looking for things that person is currently doing like making music or writing or something else. This is the case when we search for celebrities. Now most people don’t have much interesting stuff on the internet so those old articles pop up. In fact those old arrivals typically have such low rankings that a common solution to this problem is to start a blog and be really aggressive about putting your name all over the place, if the point of Googling someone was to reliably find out if they have a criminal history from a long time ago you wouldn’t expect it to be so easily defeated.


Good luck changing human nature. In the meantime, can I just get it off of google so I can get a job and pay my damn bills?

Your approach is of little comfort to the people this actually affects.


This is a very interesting point. The internet brings its users ever closer together and it's not beyond reason to imagine this closeness reaching a point where it is similar to the closeness experienced by ancient tribes. Today we would find it hard to imagine, say, seeing our neighbors naked but it was once very normal. So we've come to expect a certain amount of privacy.

A reduction in this privacy might precipitate a change in how people react to learning the private affairs of others. If everybody's legal history was laid bare, for instance, one might discover that getting in trouble is something quite a lot of people do--and in this light one might temper his reaction to learning of another's checkered past.


Except this theory doesn't work with today's search technology. For popular people (or social media queens) you will see exactly what they you want to see on the first 200 pages. For lesser popular people with names like "Jenny Zarkaneflaky" (fake person you don't need to google) you will see the one time they smoked pot and got quoted in the school newspaper for saying all people on the planet should die.


That's not really a solution though.


There's precedent for this in some fields. The UK's Rehabilitation of Offenders Act prohibits asking about most old convictions in most circumstances precisely because it's better for society to give opportunities for ex-cons and yet most employers see a black mark on a record and run away.

I think it is a bandaid, but the proper solution would (1) require massive social engineering and (2) be really hard.


They're not mutually exclusive. And anyways, given the option of improving a tool/legislation vs improving the nature of human judgement, I will always take the former.


Exactly. Proposing that businesses change their attitude towards liability when there's no clear downside is just self deceit


To me, that the "internet is forever" is utterly inhumane.

But I live in a country (the US) which is savagely vindictive towards "criminals" (though only poor criminals) both by cultural tradition and as a means towards suppression of minorities.

I'm white, but my name is more common amongst black Americans. If you google me, some of the top image hits are mugshots of unfortunate black people. It doesn't affect me, but it reminds me of how awful it is that mugshots have become so easily aggregated and republished.


The whole mugshot industry is such a racket that needs complete overhaul and regulation. Probably separate regulation then "right to be forgotten".


Actually the entire "public records" industry including your family members birth certificates, etc.. I get the idea of making something public record, but to aggregate it and automatically purchase this data from government data holders is down-right-scuzzy. Often these companies also make it available for instant search then claim you have the right to take it down, but not without signing up with your email and agreeing to a bunch of BS. Yes we definitely need legislation here.


I think this is much like the decision made by a journalist whether to publish.

Journalists sometimes talk about the public's "right to know". This directly contracts an individual's "right to privacy," so the journalist has to weigh balancing interests and make a decision. (If they screw up, the courts will review it, though the damage is done.)

Years later, it's not unreasonable for some other person to weigh these balancing interests again. Someone has to make the call balancing the public's "right to history" versus the individual's "right to be forgotten".

This can't be automated. You're not going to make a good decision without some person (journalist or historian) evaluating the particular case.

(By the way, I don't think talking about "rights" is at all that helpful when thinking about balancing conflicting interests.)


This is a very good way of describing the problem. Journalists are humans that search out salient news and stories and work on bringing it before the public. There (should be) professional ethics in their work that inform these choices. Google, meanwhile, just throws up whatever it finds. It's doubtful a journalist would ever take interest in the odd smattering of risqué/questionable moments of your neighbor, but Google's more than happy to serve them all up at your request.


We as a society have decided to keep public records. I don't see anyone advocating that we clean everyone's record after they repay their debt to society. We still have background checking services and they don't have to enforce a right to be forgotten. I assume county record searches don't have to enforce a right to be forgotten. I also assume a specifically focuses criminal record website doesn't have to enforce a right to he forgotten. It seems a little weird to enforce it on Google under some pretence that he should have a clean record after repaying his debts to society.


It's about the searching feature, not about the fact that the data is recorded somewhere. So if you knew that it was published in some newspaper you could always go and look it up, but it wouldn't be the first hit in google anymore.


The easy solution, and this is what a lot of newspapers in Germany do, atleast for most stories, is to not use the real name or only a shorted (ie, Albert E. or Qubert T. instead of Albert Einstein).


Also think if you are the employer. If I'm hiring somebody (which is inherently a position of some trust), I'd like to know if they have a history of criminal behavior. I wouldn't want a murderer coding my next website.


Even that's the easy case. Let's say you found out that they person was accused of groping a child, but the person was found not guilty. Would you hire then? My guess is not, if you had viable options.


Well, the idea that their debt to society has been paid is probably too formal for the real world. Real society is very vindictive, and never really lets any such debt be paid off.

These are primitive times. If someone commits a crime we should be figuring out why they did it and how we can prevent it from happening again. We shouldn't just be putting people away with moral debts. Our society's vindictive nature on these matters is exactly why they don't forgive and forget. They can't forget, because they never cured the 'root cause' of the crime, and thus must constantly live in fear of it recurring.


This happens even if found innocent- it happened to a friend of mine. Devastating.


Maybe we should stop locking people up for crimes, fine them instead (to be paid as reparations to the victims) and let their public reputation instead be their punishment.

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