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Wayback Machine points to pro-Russia rebels in downing of MH17 (csmonitor.com)
231 points by greglindahl on July 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

It's interesting how the right to be forgotten seems so desirable, yet when something like this happens it's great that no one can cover up their tracks. Now the pro-Russian separists are trying to delete all sorts of info.

We have this tweet about them getting a bunch of anti-aircraft missiles (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:NF6E5FC...), showing off their new toys (https://twitter.com/grasswire/status/489823087190224897/phot...) and the most important one of the day of the rebel leader (or whoever manages his Vkontakte account) bragging about downing planes before he knew that one was civilian (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?hl=en&q=cache%3...).

The http://grasswire.com users keep finding more and more of these - It seems desirable that we can delete stuff online and have it go away, but sometimes the Streisand effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect) is a great thing.

It's interesting how the right to be forgotten seems so desirable

Sorry, but this is a complete mischaracterization of the right. I've been having the same conversation with Yonatan Zunger on G+, he tried cracking a similar joke there.


It's a flagrantly specious argument.

Compelling public right to know in an international incident, attack on the public, by armed militants operating in defiance of local and international law.

That passes any reasonable grounds for denying an RTBF request.

Now, ask me about the identities of individuals whose passports are shown on a video linked here, and I might be open to debate (though this raises the question of whether or not RTBF is ceded on death).

If you're interested in an informed discussion of RTBF, I'd strongly recommend Max Huijgen's threads on G+:

"Google's Cynical Manipulation of the Right To Be Forgotten"


"What should fall under the European right to be forgotten and to reverse it: what should fall under the 'right to know'?"


And one more from Yonatan Zunger: "The Right To Be Forgotten: A Question"


> That passes any reasonable grounds for denying an RTBF request.

That passes your definition of reasonable grounds.

The problem is that there doesn't exist an established "reasonable grounds" in this area, period. There is no legal test as to what is "reasonable." It's left up to the likes of Google to decide what records society keeps on who. And that's absolutely flabberghasting.

Within a month of this "right" being instated, evil people were already using it to cover their tracks, and that's a Fact that cannot be ignored.

>Within a month of this "right" being instated, evil people were already using it to cover their tracks, and that's a Fact that cannot be ignored.

Perhaps it cannot be ignored, but what should we do with that fact?

The problem with the line of reasoning is that, if left unqualified, it can be carried as far as justification for totalitarianism.

So, perhaps until a reasonable standard can be established, I wonder if ignoring that fact is our least bad option. If evil people continue to take advantage, then perhaps that would provide the incentive to quickly get us to court-testing, precedent, and the establishment of a standard. And it may be the only approach that errs on the side of rights preservation in general.

No, not mine. The EU court's.

The right is not absolute (see below).

Google does not have to make a final decision but may decide on request. It can also pass that decision on to the court. For individuals with limited resources, a request to a search engine is more reasonable than having to litigate every instance. There is no sanction on the search engine for passing on the decision.

Max Huijgen's description from the links above:

A case-by-case assessment is needed considering the type of information in question, its sensitivity for the individual’s private life and the interest of the public in having access to that information.

Or if you prefer the EU court's own fact sheet:

"On the “Right to be Forgotten” : Individuals have the right - under certain conditions - to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. This applies where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of the data processing (para 93 of the ruling). The court found that in this particular case the interference with a person’s right to data protection could not be justified merely by the economic interest of the search engine. At the same time, the Court explicitly clarified that the right to be forgotten is not absolute but will always need to be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression and of the media (para 85 of the ruling). A case-by-case assessment is needed considering the type of information in question, its sensitivity for the individual’s private life and the interest of the public in having access to that information. The role the person requesting the deletion plays in public life might also be relevant."


Yes, people were attempting to use the ruling beyond its scope. Google's Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond said: "We think it went too far, and didn't consider adequately the impact on free expression, which is absolutely a human right."



"Only two months in our process is still very much a work in progress. It’s why we incorrectly removed links to some articles last week (they’ve since been reinstated). But the good news is that the ongoing, active debate that’s happening will inform the development of our principles, policies and practices – in particular about how to balance one person’s right to privacy with another’s right to know."


There's a tremendous amount of disinformation on this ruling. Frankly, you're part of it.

Who decides?

Here you go:

Factsheet on the "€œRight to be Forgotten"€ ruling (C-131/12)


What does "right-to-forget" have anything to do with the separatist pulling info from (supposedly) his own website?

I don't see Google or any other search engine involved in this situation at all.

Stop conflating things - that someone can post content and remove it of their own volition while Wayback Machine captures it is not germane to the discussion of whether it's ok to be forgotten. Now if the separatist had issued a removal request to WM, that'd be a different story.

The law is not restricted to search engines:

> The EU defines ‘data controllers’ as ‘people or bodies that collect and manage personal data.’ (WP)

It's not his own website. It's VKontakte, a rather large eastern european social network.

So how did this individual remove the info? Was a right-to-be-forgotten clause get invoked? Or did he just exercise existing privileges to delete his info?

He just deleted the post.

> It's interesting how the right to be forgotten seems so desirable, yet when something like this happens it's great that no one can cover up their tracks. Now the pro-Russian separists are trying to delete all sorts of info.

Are war crimes what 'right to be forgotten' is all about?

> Are war crimes what 'right to be forgotten' is all about?

Of course not. I think OP is just pointing out that there are pros and cons.

OTOH, if I were leading a technologically sophisticated country to war and had the ability, I might look for ways to make my opponent look bad- say, by posting to internet forums using their hacked accounts- and trust that the internet would not forget.

And how exactly would you get the video of the plane being shot down? The stupidity of the rebels is explanation enough.

I'm certainly not saying this was a fake post. Though it's possible, I guess. I'm just saying that the internet is a tool of war. And for those purposes, it's helpful that information can become rapidly-propagated Truth.

However horrific the civilian plane's shooting down is, i don't think accidental shoot down would qualify as a war crime. If anything, the celebratory message about supposed successful shooting down of one more military cargo plane confirms that the rebels, it it were rebels' missile, were intending to shoot at an enemy military target .

Wrt. the right [more precisely lack of it] to be forgotten and war crimes : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Non-Applicabi...

"wantonly destroying cities, towns, villages, or any object not warranted by military necessity" is a war crime.

A plane would be such an object.

"murdering, mistreating, or deporting civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps" is a war crime.

Passengers of an aircraft traversing an occupied territory could be construed as civilian residents.


"Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war..." is a crime against humanity.


The "right to be forgotten" laws aren't really "all about" any particular subject matter as far as I can tell. They seem to be potentially (though not definitely) applicable to nearly any story about a person that might be considered "old news."

Most (adversited) decisions are about elected officials and executives failing their duties. There is a difference between dodging taxes and slaughtering civilians, but the idea (jail sentences for people with political power) is close enough for lawyers to see the need for clarification.

It's easy to cover your tracks, don't post shoot down videos on Facebook, or supply and weapon inventories.

I don't know how this could even be considered 'tracks', it's strategic information that should never have been posted in the first place. (Assuming the rebels are running a military operation in hopes of gaining control of territory)

Also, if the information wasn't suppressed it would still be just as popular. Do you really think no one was going to check the Rebel Leaders VK? The event was already international news, and would fill headlines for the next week, there is no way that suppressing the information made it more widely known.

It is pretty clear if you listen to nterviews, that the pro-russian rebels are mostly morons. With friends like that who needs enemies.

Yeah, no kidding they should be on America's Dumbest Criminals.

If you'd follow the story from the very beginning, you'd understand why those "we have Buk" posts were made.

Well, Russia's dumbest. Putin's stooges really fucked up on this one.

I don't think that anyone is advocating the 'right to be forgotten' as a way of wiping all content you don't like about yourself from the Internet, or even that it extends to content less than a day old.

It has more to do with companies keeping their records on you from now until they go bankrupt (and then sell that data off as an asset to appease their creditors).

The rest of the world will see the actual search results, only Europeans will be left in the dark.

Unless they Google via a proxy.

People are already doing this to gain access to locale restricted content, notably on Youtube. In fact, there are browser based plug-ins to automate this.

There is no 'right to be forgotten', really. It just means that, legally, a potential employer who digs up a youthful indiscretion, or a journalist digging for dirt cannot be up front about what they have found. You will not be able to know or challenge the reasons you have been discriminated against. This will be particularly harmful in cases where the damage to your good name is demonstrably false because you will not be able to confront and disprove it.

It's apples and oranges. The right to be forgotten usually doesn't refer to things adults unanonymously post to social networking sites and similar forums.

There's an explicit exception for a compelling public interest in the information as well.

Who said there is a right to be forgotten?

It would be worth actually reading that PDF to see what it defines the right as including and not including.

Agreed! I don't mean to say that it applies to this situation (or that it was a good idea to recognize this right in the first place). I simply answered the question "who says there is a right to be forgotten?" Maybe shmerl did not mean the question literally, but I can't really tell.

It doesn't do any such thing as far as I can tell. The limitations are as clear as mud. It seem to be best summed up as "Any data about any identifiable person that is felt to be 'no longer necessary.'"

I meant it in a way, does it make sense really? I think not. At least not in the way EU did it.

You can donate to the Internet Archive here: http://archive.org/donate/

It's always worth a reminder that the Archive is run on donations, and is a rare, precious resource. Someday I hope it's use as an Internet log file of public record continues to help.

Privacy is a big deal, but we also need to combat the memory hole effect. Hopefully a good balance can be struck!

Presumably google and bings records are already being examined by the FBI.

Worth noting: Two days ago, an actual AN-26 cargo plane was shot down [1]. At the time, Ukraine assumed it had to be a Russian missile, because they did not think the rebels had the ability to shoot anything above a ceiling of about 2.5 kilometers. This seems to be confirming that the rebels are the ones doing the shooting. The intelligence agencies of the world are having a busy day, I'm sure.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/15/world/europe/ukrainian-mil...

This is just brilliant.

AN-26 shooting, allegedly by rebels, proofs that malaysian boeing was shot by rebels.

By that logic UA did this because it shot down russian civil plane in 2001, admitting it after months.

You have it backwards. All the piles of evidence that they shot down the MA flight indicate they probably also had the capability two days ago to shoot down the AN-26, and therefore probably did.

UA has the very same capability since USSR days and therefore probably did.

Let me spell it out for you then - Ukraine had no interest in shooting down it's own cargo plane. Russia would not likely risk firing a missile from within it's own territory. Who does that leave us? Maybe the people who claim ownership of the space, have the means, and are tweeting about their supposed AN-26 shootdowns? If this is trolling, it's bad trolling.

Insert suggestion of false-flag operation in 3, 2, 1...

Well, if there hadn't been any apparent false flag operations in recent times that _would be a ridiculous thing to suggest.

As it is, who knows? Sites can be hacked, that we know. And we know some parties have continued interest in stirring up trouble in the region.

Was it a false flag operation? Probably not. But if we see a party trying to take advantage of the situation, or escalate conflict over the situation, it will be a bit more suspicious, and that suggestion may be worth considering.

If it was a military error it was a military error. But if it was indeed parties with economic interests destroying human lives in order to court opinion... well that would be despicable and of the lowest order of criminality.

Accusations of false flag this early are just a smokescreen, someone trying to muddy the waters due to political sympathies - until someone takes advantage of the situation, one can't reasonably claim false flag without sounding like a loon. I'm not saying false flag doesn't or can't happen, just that you at least need to have a bit more information come to light before you can take it seriously as an option, and you need to see how those with a lot to gain take advantage of the event.

Hell, saying Ukraine did this as false flag seems especially loony - Russia was drawing down it's forces on the border, down to about 1,000 soldiers (down from over 40,000). Why would they intentionally stir the pot when things were going as they needed them to?

> Ukraine had no interest in shooting down it's own cargo plane.

Cargo -- no. MA plane -- very much.

Their so-called ATO (in reality, genocide) failed just recently. Some of their troops were surrounded at UA-RU border by rebels, they are desorganised, some are fleeing into Russia even.

At this point Kiev needs something.

and shooting down civilian plane helps them how?

I was wondering how long it would be before one of you showed up...


I was following the news from the conflict in Ukraine and when the plane got downed, pro-Russia rebels were celebrating all over the internet (thinking that they'd downed a Ukrainian supply plane). When it became obvious the plane was civilian, the celebratory posts and videos started to disappear with blazing speeds.

"posts from pro-Russian rebels...on the internet..."

You maybe mean posts ostensibly from pro-Russian rebels appearing on the internet?

Look at how many versions the WM has for that page - this seems to be a case where the recently unveiled 'on demand' archiving may have massively paid off.

Does VK not block spiders like Facebook does? This makes a compelling case against Facebook's policies. If it had been posted only to a Facebook page, WM couldn't have archived it. Somebody else could have, but chances are they would be less impartial about the material they were scraping.

It's a public page, not a profile. The posts are visible to everyone including web crawlers. (I'm using VK)

There are claims that the BUK was geolocated via video footage before the plane went down:


There are also claims that UA was really trying to shoot Russian Plane #1 which was flying close to malaysian boeing both in time and space

There are many claims.

Why on Earth would Ukraine try to shoot down Putin? To get absolutely sure they'll be annihilated by Russia??

Since the beginning of the conflict UA did everything they can to provoke Russia into crossing border.

Well, almost everything.

A curious statement. How were they doing that? By letting the rebels take over their cities and airfields? By letting Russia have Crimea?

People burned alive in Odessa.

Many people (noncombatants) killed in Lugansk from BM-21 "Grad" bombings.

Artillery shooting near UA-RU border, killing two soldiers.

Shooting over cross-border stations while refugees were trying to escape into Russia.

Many episodes.

Kiev declared that 'terrorists' (familiar word, isn't it?) are in Lugansk and Donetsk and started shooting over whole population regardless.

> People burned alive in Odessa.

That was interesting incident.

There was a peaceful protest, that was attacked by (pro-)Russian militants with guns. Then the crowd started to defend itself, the attackers retreated and barricaded themselves in a wooden building. They were still shooting into the crowd and throwing Molotov's cocktails. The crowd was was mostly unarmed save for it's own Molotov's cocktails.

Barricading inside wooden building and throwing fire around is not especially smart idea. That's how it ended, also.

There are plenty of Russian soldiers that crossed the border already.

Putin himself has crossed border already.

I think it is best for me to leave this little Intellectual Curiosity Club.

You filled your quota for the day?

I don't want to get into the politics, but I wonder about the algorithm the Wayback Machine uses to decide what to cache and if intel agencies manipulate it so the WM can be used for PR purposes.

"It is possible that the WM website could have been spoofed somehow to create these records, but it would not be easily done. To do so would either require hacking WM and creating the new records within its system, or spoofing the records by tricking WM into thinking it was accessing Girkin's page when it was actually accessing a third-party site. Both possibilities would be difficult to carry out."

Would it really be that hard?

Their explanation seemed a bit too quick. And did I miss something or is there a reason the actual account couldn't possibly have been hacked or spoofed before being stored on wayback?

No, I don't think it would really be that hard for an actor the size of... well, some of the parties involved in this debacle.

The rebels probably accidentally shot the plane down. Most likely explanation. But, if someone tries to make hay with this event however, for example using it in public speeches to justify further military aid, advisers or intervention... I'm going to begin wondering about that.

Verifably timestamped information is becoming more and more important.

Worth noting that one of TIA's revenue sources is providing notarized sampled for court evidence.


There was also this news article from just before reports of the plane crashing arose. I noticed it this morning right away because they were in the same area at the same time on the same day.


I wonder if we will witness first information and propaganda conflict between two super powers taking part in internet.

This can be huge - apparently the ones responsible for the shooting will do everything they can to cover it up. Will Putin cut his ties off and leave Ukraine to itself or will he start his propaganda machine?

Its a huge loss - people that have nothing to do with this conflict died just because they were in wrong place in wrong time...

Let's not be blinded by bloodlust. Let me walk past all of the flamebait and caution that amateur detectives should heed caution before they start pointing fingers everywhere. This wouldn't be the first time that people were certain of guilt only to be demonstrated otherwise later.

Let's not make people causalities until the dust settles at the very least.

As someone who is working for one of the travelling agencies who had people on board (and I'm 99% sure one of my previous employers also had customers on that aircraft), could we please wait with all the speculation? Querying the database to see who might have been on board was no fun. I think that our customer rep's had an even harder time to answer questions. The suffering of relatives and friends must be much worse. I'm pretty sick of all the speculation in Dutch media right now, let's wait for some kind of official investigation and in the mean time light some candles for the deceased.

Why was the previous thread about this killed? I know it's off topic for HN, but it is pretty major fucking news.



honestly, if you're flagging this story, you may as well turn in your human card

edit2 so this has stirred up something since I'm watching my karma flutter up and down like a butterfly's wings.

Most off-topic major news ends up being flagged. There are two main pieces of world news today: 1) Malaysian airlines plane downed in Ukraine; and 2) Israel launches ground invasion of the Gaza strip. I would guess stories about either one are likely to be flagged here.

Yeah, but you've been on here long enough to know that major off-topic news won't get flagged/will be forced up on the front page for a while. HN understands that sometimes our tech news bubble has to be popped with a little dose of the real world every once in a while.

This isn't just a plane crash, this was an aircraft that was shot down while on a perfectly normal commercial flight between two major international hubs. This could have very serious, long-term global ramifications and every person who comes to HN should be aware it happened.

From HN guidelines:

"Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports [...]. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic."

Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Fair point. However, for this specific event other news channels are good enough. More importantly posting politically charged stuff on HN may over time increase the incidence of this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8042471 ;-)

If someone lives in a hole so deep that they haven't heard about this, I'd say it won't make much of a difference for them. I haven't flagged this, but I think you're overestimating the importance of the presence of this story on HN.

The value HN brings to a story like this is the in-depth, rational analysis that's much better than the news can muster.

Already in the wayback thread on this, I've discovered a news tracking startup and an in depth discussion for people who take this exact flight and route.

This wasn't a plane passing between Baghdad and Kabul or some similar dangerous route. There's been a couple of other flying related accidents today also. This is the notable one.

If you take a plane frequently (like I expect lots of people here do), you'll probably be interested in this story and the kind of in-depth discussion that only HN can bring to bear on it.

edit Just found out the relative of a person I know was on the plane and is now dead.

Honestly, this was a great reply until that last sentence. I recommend you remove it.

I don't know who's downvoting you. I removed it, you were absolutely right and I let emotions grab hold.

You'd have to be living in a basement not to have heard of a major airliner being shot down.... oh wait...

I think that's an HN corollary to the 'on a computer' patents.

Just add "on twitter" to any off topic news item and suddenly it's on topic.

Very easily flagged off the main page. Here's some folks discussing it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8048550

There were probably a half dozen of those today. The first one was here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8048083

Geeze I've been visiting HN all day and didn't see this one. Was it pushed off the main page artificially?

It's on topic with the Wayback Machine involvement.

Yes, and I'm glad that I was allowed to change the title of the article to indicate the reason why this is relevant to HN.

Edit2: and now the title got reverted to the article title, which obscures what's interesting to HN readers. Oh well, inflexible policy in action.

EDIT: Given the poor quality of the discussion, I now regret posting this link. Very little discussion of the Wayback machine and how this is a new and interesting way to collect information, and lots of off-topic stuff on the right to be forgotten or non-wayback-machine-related items about this incident.

Reminds me of 'add "over the Internet" and patent' tactics.

Ok, we'll change the title back again. I don't think this thread was destined to be very substantive, though. The topic is too hot, for more than one meaning of "hot".

Thanks, dang. In hindsight, yeah, this was not a good thing to post, even if it is very interesting that the Wayback Machine can play this kind of role.

We do sometimes edit mainstream press headlines to replace a generic phrase (like "web") with a technical name (in this case, "wayback machine" or maybe "internet archive") that HN readers are comfortable with. So your edit was fine. We just didn't notice that right away.

I found this to be the most interesting posts on the subject.

> honestly, if you're flagging this story, you may as well turn in your human card

No a real human cares about the millions of human beings who die of simple diseases all the time that for starters we could personally donate too and save a few lives.

And for seconds have a positive benefit raising awareness to .

This story is pure voyeurism. We'll have no affect on knowing this stuff especially knowing it first. Which I have no problem with, it is very interesting to see what will happen. I upped it and found links in this thread very interesting.

But no, it's nothing about being a good moral human being.

This is the last straw. I'm done with this shitty community. Ciao


I don't think any of the passengers were from the US.

BBC news quoted airport officials reporting 23 US citizens. Some US passports have also appeared in photographs purporting to be from the scene.


"The State Department was trying to confirm reports that 23 Americans were aboard the downed aircraft, spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said." (http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-mis...)

And once the US Dept. of State investigated, they discovered the 23 Americans claim to be false (but later one dual-national American was found to have boarded the flight): http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118762/false-report-23-am...

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