Google Spain, What It Means and What It Doesn’t.

Fergal Crehan makes some interesting points on the Right to Be Forgotten argument here, including my favourite, – the distinction between the right to Freedom of Expression (which to be fair, isn’t really endangered by this ruling, as the original uploader wasn’t forced to remove the content) and the Right to Freedom of Information. “The idea that we have a right to access to all published information about any other person is a new one.”

Fergal Crehan BL

Yesterday’s decision of the Court of Justice of the EU in C-131/12, Google Spain v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, has generated quite a lot of media commentary, some of it, in my opinion, a bit overheated. I thought it was worth doing a quick overview of what the decision does, and more importantly does not say, and to consider the implications for the future of your information privacy.

 What’s It About?

In 1998, a Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia  published a report of a court-ordered foreclosure auction to pay social security debt. In 2009, having paid off his debt, the debtor, Mr Costeja González, discovered that Googling his name led to a link to the report.

Relying on the Data Protection principles that data should, inter alia, be kept up to date, be relevant and not excessive to the purposes for which they are processed, and be…

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Can a Search Engine be “Private by Default”? – Professor Niko Härting

I read a very nice summary of the problems with undervaluing the importance of freedom of information and communication in the Google v Spain decision by Professor Niko Härting. Here’s just a snippet of the argument;

“Privacy by default” will encourage politicians, celebrities and other public figures to put their lawyers on track when they find inconvenient information online. And as the use of a search engine like Google is essential for finding information, the elimination from the results of search engines will provide a convenient and essential tool to suppress information.

I recommend you read the full article at;

http://www.cr-online.de/blog/2014/05/14/can-a-search-engine-be-private-by-default/

~ Shane

Photo Credit: Ѕolo via photopin cc

Europe and The Right to Be Forgotten: A Memorable Victory for Privacy or Defeat for Free Speech?

Much rejoicing was had this week amongst fans of Data Privacy and Data Protection, as the European Court of Justice (ECJ – though officially now just the Court of Justice) in its capacity as one wing of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU; I know, the distinction is a bit confusing, and varies depending on who reports it) implied a “right to be forgotten” into European Data Protection Law. For example, the EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, welcomed the decision, saying it was a victory for the protection of personal data in the EU; “The ruling confirms the need to bring today’s data protection rules from the ‘digital stone age’ into today’s modern computing world”.  Whilst the idea of giving citizens more rights to control the processing and dissemination of their personal information is a commendable one, this already exists in the form of the Data Protection Directive which was found to be applicable in this case.

What really happened here is that the court extended, in my opinion rather widely unclearly, who can be designated as controllers or processors of personal data and what sorts of information should be considered objectionable personal information and remain completely within the control of the citizen. Continue reading Europe and The Right to Be Forgotten: A Memorable Victory for Privacy or Defeat for Free Speech?

Electric Cruisebeast Creator Elon Musk Tells The Oatmeal He’s “Happy To Help” Fund Tesla Museum

Matthew Inman and Elon Musk have the right attitude towards technology. Nice to see people genuinely effusively, enthusiastically excited about new technologies and old inventors.

TechCrunch

In one of the loveliest peans to modern technology ever penned on the web, The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman posted a lengthy comic describing what it’s like to own a Tesla Model S, and it was nothing short of effusive. He did take issue with the car’s name, however, and offered up some helpful suggestions for alternate titles. The final product is easily one of the best and most clearly explained reviews of the Tesla S to date, in case you want to take a gander, but Inman also took the opportunity to ask Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, to help fund the creation of his Tesla museum project, which previously raised nearly $1.5 million on Indiegogo.

Inman originally sought the funding necessary to help buy the property where inventor and car company namesake Nikola Tesla had a workshop in New York state. The campaign managed that successfully, Inman…

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Something from Nothing: The Irish Unenumerated Rights Doctrine

I have blatantly stolen the phrase “Something from Nothing” from Lawrence Krauss’ discussion of the origins of the universe to in his brilliant book “A Universe from Nothing“, to describe a somewhat less significant, but similarly mysterious aspect of Irish Constitutional Law. As I have been a bit busy lately, and am lagging behind in writing new content for the site, I decided once again to go back to some of my previous work, this time as a fresh-faced (actually, at age 19 I was probably still struggling with teenage-years skin, closer to acne than fresh-faced) first-year student in Trinity College.   The doctrine of unenumerated rights is one of the more controversial, and possibly for that very reason, interesting areas of constitutional law. It is a central part of both the arguments between judicial activism and separation of powers, and natural law versus positive law; Continue reading Something from Nothing: The Irish Unenumerated Rights Doctrine

EU Court Rules Google Must Give Individuals “Right To Be Forgotten” (Or Not To Be Found)

Good news for European fans of “The Right to Be Forgotten”, as the European Court of Justice has backed the right to have “irrelevant” or out-dated information removed from online sources, and search results. Google is understandably unhappy, and this could also have troubling consequences regarding freedom of speech and information, but it is certainly interesting to see the ECJ backing this sort of very new “right” specifically as a response to developments in the online world.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch contributor Andrew Keen has long argued the “Internet needs to learn to forget“, but I’m not sure this latest EU ruling is quite what he had in mind.

The European Court Of Justice has ruled that Google must respect the “right to be forgotten” and, at the request of private individuals, remove “irrelevant” and outdated information that contravenes an EU privacy directive concerning the way personal data is processed.

Naturally, Google is said to be “furious” and disappointed by the court’s decision.

The landmark case involves a Spanish national who, as far back as 2010, lodged a complaint with Spain’s data protection agency, arguing that a national newspaper and Google were infringing his right to privacy.

Specifically, when entering his name into the search engine, the list of results would display links to two pages of La Vanguardia’s newspaper containing an announcement for a real-estate auction organised…

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Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Super-Complaint!

I was recently asked by my boss to prepare a short paper on the functioning of “Super Complaints” as a form of consumer protection enforcement in the UK. This was of particular interest as many regulatory systems, as well as many academics (particularly in Germany), primarily see private law as the main vehicle for consumer protection. Continue reading Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Super-Complaint!

Catholicism, Moral Conservatism and Crazy Irish Laws: Part 1 – Introduction and Condoms

I’m sure the title of this post will strike many of you as a bit controversial, as I do tend to try to keep my views on religion out of my academic arguments, unless of course they are particularly relevant or particularly amusing given the topic at hand. And this topic is one I find myself explaining to non-Irish jurists time and time again, with mixed feelings of frustration, shame and bemusement. The following are a few of the more surprising facts about Irish law, both historical and current, which seem to shock, anger or amuse my colleagues who didn’t grow up in such starkly conservative or Catholic nations, and even some of those who did. While it is true that many of these laws cannot be blamed on religion alone, one cannot deny the huge, at times mind-boggling and perplexing, impact which cultural, moral and religious conservatism, and the Catholic Church in particular, have had on the law in Ireland. Some of these peculiarities are uniquely religious, even Catholic, others are simply symptomatic of cultural and moral conservatism in Ireland and Europe over the last Century. For ease of both writing and reading, I have decided to break this post up into a series of shorter pieces on specific issues. We’ll start today with an introduction and the wonderful story of illegal condoms: Continue reading Catholicism, Moral Conservatism and Crazy Irish Laws: Part 1 – Introduction and Condoms