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US Activists Oppose US Govt Calls To Weaken EU Privacy Rules 151

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the lizard-people-lie dept.
judgecorp writes "The European Commission has proposals for data privacy (including the 'right to be forgotten') and the U.S. government is opposing them. Now U.S. activists have arrived in Brussels to lobby against their government's opposition to the European measures. The move comes following reports of 'extreme' lobbying by U.S. authorities against the European proposals." Although the "right to be forgotten" raises some free speech issues, it doesn't seem like a bad idea in principle.
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US Activists Oppose US Govt Calls To Weaken EU Privacy Rules

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  • Not a pretty sight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tokolosh (1256448) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:47PM (#42652277)

    Extreme lobbying, such as employed in Iraq, etc., etc?

    • by Mitreya (579078) <(mitreya) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:09PM (#42652425)

      Extreme lobbying, such as employed in Iraq, etc., etc?

      Why is this marked as troll?
      U.S. has no jurisdiction or vote or representation in Europe. Any opposition to European laws thus consists of some unofficial threats, right?

      Nor is there a legitimate "political" reason. The only reason it might be happening is some companies (Facebook, etc.) are concerned about running into some customer-protection laws which are conveniently absent in U.S.

      The OP is not that far off.

      • by raymorris (2726007) on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:00PM (#42652753)
        As proposed, Slashdot (a US company) could be forced to delete posts made by US citizens, if those posts mention someone in the EU. That's a legitimate concern. Had this law been in place before, Mussoluni's "right to be forgotten" would mean he could order Facebook to delete any posts critical of him.
        • by similar_name (1164087) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:55AM (#42654057)
          How would Slashdot be forced? Why would a European law have jurisdiction in the U.S.? I suppose the EU could begin blocking sites that don't comply. Some sort of Great Firewall of Europe I suppose.
          • Because slashdot is owned by Dice Holdings, and Dice Holdings does business in the EU? If they fail to comply they can be fined, assets seized, etc etc.?

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            It will work similarly to DMCA take-down requests. Only affects companies with interests in the EU, failure to comply will open them up to being sued and hit with fines.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @09:04AM (#42655869) Homepage

          As proposed, Slashdot (a US company) could be forced to delete posts made by US citizens, if those posts mention someone in the EU.

          NO. That is absolutely NOT what the right to be forgotten is about.

          The right will give an individual to have THEIR data removed from sites. Data that they themselves uploaded, such as posts they made or photos they shared. If you see one of those photos and decide to write a blog post about it then your blog is perfectly safe and won't be covered by this right.

          The right to be forgotten is not about purging information about yourself from the internet, it is about having companies delete your data when asked to. That means if you delete your Facebook profile it really is deleted, and Facebook can't carry on displaying your photos to other people or displaying your name in search results or store information about you any more. If other people post on their wall mentioning your name there is nothing you can do about it, beyond the usual legal protections against libel etc.

          • by miltonw (892065)
            It would be better if you actually read the proposals. There are three categories for the proposed "right to be forgotten" edict. The first category is as you mention, but it is only the first category. Roughly speaking, category 2 is copies of the data you uploaded (i.e. friends copy your photos or posts) and category 3 is any data about you.

            And the "right to be forgotten" is supposed to cover all three. Read "Nineteen Eighty Four" for an idea of how that will work. Winston Smith works in the Minist
            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              You should read the proposals, because apparently you only skimmed them. Yes, category 3 does include data about you, but only data collected by companies for commercial purposes. To be absolutely clear a newspaper article about your criminal behaviour would not be subject to removal. Blog posts about you would not be subject to removal. Only data collected for purposes like creating an online profile or establishing a business relationship.

      • by PTBarnum (233319) on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:17PM (#42652857)

        Sovereign nations don't often let other countries dictate their policies, but they quite often listen to what other countries have to say about them. The article does not say that the US threatened the EC, it just says that the US is lobbying the EC. If one country is proposing to do something that another affects the interests of another country, the latter can and should lobby the former. Foreign companies and governments lobby the US government on a regular basis, this is just the reciprocal of that.

        • Sovereign nations don't often let other countries dictate their policies, but they quite often listen to what other countries have to say about them.

          Dictate policies, no. Heavily follow them when they come from the US? Too often. Of course, the reverse is true (Berne Convention) and of course the real point is not that sovereign nation A is talking to sovereign nation B but that companies in sovereign nation A and B are using A to pressure/suggest/lobby B to change their laws to their own advantage.

          The a

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            Yea, reciprocal. An 800 lb gorilla US over a 50 lb country or a 50 lb country over an 800 lb gorilla US.

            Disclaimer: I'm a US citizen, and as with most of us, despise lobbyists. Our legal system has made it a feeding frenzy, and next to impossible for anyone to put a stop to.

            What evidence do you have that the US is doing any more lobbying than the EU is doing in the US? None of us here are in love with lobbyists, but there is certainly plenty of foreign lobbying here, ref.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lobbying_in_the_United_States#Foreign_lobbying [wikipedia.org]

      • by Zemran (3101) on Monday January 21, 2013 @11:03PM (#42653443) Homepage Journal

        They have very good reason to feel threatened. If Europe starts to get its act together, American people may start to think that it is possible and demand the same.

      • by rastos1 (601318)

        U.S. has no jurisdiction or vote or representation in Europe

        Neither it has anywhere outside of its borders.

        Any opposition to European laws thus consists of some unofficial threats, right?

        Nobody cares if the threats are official or not. Everybody just caves in.

  • It cuts both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pjt33 (739471) on Monday January 21, 2013 @07:52PM (#42652307)

    ...the "right to be forgotten" raises some free speech issues...

    is one way to look at it, but the other way to look at it is that free speech raises some privacy issues. As the Stanford Law Review article recognises, there's a tension between the two and different cultures choose to give them different weights. That doesn't make either culture right or wrong.

    • Re:It cuts both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BitterOak (537666) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:13PM (#42652451)

      ...the "right to be forgotten" raises some free speech issues...

      is one way to look at it, but the other way to look at it is that free speech raises some privacy issues. As the Stanford Law Review article recognises, there's a tension between the two and different cultures choose to give them different weights. That doesn't make either culture right or wrong.

      True, and in the pre-Internet days, it didn't matter very much if two different cultures weighed those two issues quite differently But it gets much more complicated when we're all connected. Suppose a European creates a Facebook account (hosted in the US) and later wants some information removed. Which country's laws should prevail? It gets even more interesting if it isn't a big international company like Facebook, but a small US-based blog site, that someone in a foreign nation chooses to participate in. Whose laws prevail then?

      The Internet is a wonderful thing, but difficulties do arise when different countries' approaches to freedom of speech differ, and both counties share the same global Internet.

      • Which is why sovereign states often look at the Internet with very mixed feelings. In the old days, doing business in a country meant dealing souly with their laws, nowadays, you can do business worldwide without a presence anywhere, subject largely to laws of your own choosing.

        China has chosen to largely block "web2.0" and just leave the foreign Internet as merely a reference tool. Other countries are either doing the same or wishing they could, to have something so central to the lives of its citizens tha

      • Re:It cuts both ways (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 @12:44AM (#42654009) Journal

        But it gets much more complicated when we're all connected. Suppose a European creates a Facebook account (hosted in the US) and later wants some information removed. Which country's laws should prevail?

        Facebook has a HQ in Ireland, so the EU laws would apply
        The only out for Facebook is if the European citizen was in the USA when they created and updated the account...
        That's likely to be a vanishingly small percentage of facebook users.

        It gets even more interesting if it isn't a big international company like Facebook, but a small US-based blog site, that someone in a foreign nation chooses to participate in. Whose laws prevail then?

        That's not at all interesting.
        The European courts have no jurisdiction. End of conversation.
        Finer legal minds than ours have parsed issues like this for a couple decades now.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      I think the free speech issues trump it. Look the right to be forgot requires dictating what someone else can do or say about what the know. That is by its nature invasive. The privacy aspect on the other hand is not. If you don't want to have record of your activities on Facebook or anywhere else don't use it. If you don't trust a business with your personal information don't do business with them.

      The choice is between invasive regulation and education should be selected. If this is really a serious

      • by polar red (215081)

        You're assuming the person has control over his own personal information. He does not. Our corporate overlords have.

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        I think the free speech issues trump it.

        I imagine that most Americans would feel that way, and I strongly suspect that you're an American. But my point is that different people see it differently: firstly because there isn't a universal "right" answer; and secondly because we've been brought up to see the world through different lenses. To take a somewhat silly but hopefully instructive example: according to Wikipedia, English is the only official language in 28 U.S. states. Imagine a bill which made English the only official language of France.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      It actually has nothing to do with free speech. The right won't allow people to silence their critics, only to remove material they themselves uploaded. It is about limiting the ability of companies to keep your data forever and make it inaccessible to you.

      For example if you delete your Facebook profile it is actually just made inactive and they keep everything you every posted, every photo you ever uploaded and all your personal information going back to the moment you registered. That's not a free speech

  • With extreme prejudice? I've seen 24.

  • Our personal data is worth money to others. They don't want their money taken from them.
    • by Mitreya (579078) <(mitreya) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:18PM (#42652497)

      Our personal data is worth money to others. They don't want their money taken from them.

      No, no, you misunderstand. In reality Facebook is selflessly fighting for our rights to remember. They would allow you to delete the data, but they are concerned about freedom of expression being preserved. They said it right here:

      Facebook in particular has strong objections to the right to be forgotten, claiming it "raises many concerns with regard to the right of others to remember and to freedom of expression"

  • by grimJester (890090) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:05PM (#42652393)
    From the Stanford link:

    "But the right to delete data becomes far more controversial when it involves Fleischerâ(TM)s second category: âoeIf I post something, and someone else copies it and re-posts it on their own site, do I have the right to delete it?â Imagine a teenager regrets posting a picture of herself with a bottle of beer on her own site and after deleting it, later discovers that several of her friends have copied and reposted the picture on their own sites. If she asks them to take down the pictures, and her friends refuse or cannot be found, should Facebook be forced to delete the picture from her friendsâ(TM) albums without the ownersâ(TM) consent based solely on the teenagerâ(TM)s objection?"

    If Universal posts the latest Spiderman movie and I re-post it, they can have it taken down. This is just normal copyright and that's not limited to big companies or rich people.

    ] Finally, there is Fleischerâ(TM)s third category of takedown requests: âoeIf someone else posts something about me, do I have a right to delete it?â This, of course, raises the most serious concerns about free expression. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states cannot pass laws restricting the media from disseminating truthful but embarrassing informationâ"such as the name of a rape victimâ"as long as the information was legally acquired.

    The proposed European regulation, however, treats takedown requests for truthful information posted by others identically to takedown requests for photos Iâ(TM)ve posted myself that have then been copied by others: both are included in the definition of personal data as âoeany information relatingâ to me, regardless of its source. I can demand takedown and the burden, once again, is on the third party to prove that it falls within the exception for journalistic, artistic, or literary exception.

    This one sucks and shouldn't be there. Obviously people should be able to talk about others even if it's not journalism or art.

    Generally, I think the questions on what's ok and what's not have been solved in law long before the Internet existed. This is just about spelling out how hosters should deal with takedown notices etc.

    • by BitterOak (537666) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:17PM (#42652491)

      If Universal posts the latest Spiderman movie and I re-post it, they can have it taken down. This is just normal copyright and that's not limited to big companies or rich people.

      But the copyright for a photograph belongs to the person who took the picture, not the person in the picture. (I recognize that in some cases, they may be the same person.) Suppose in the example given the picture wasn't taken by the person depicted with the beer bottle but by a third party, who gave consent to the second party to post the photo in her album which depicts the first party holding a beer bottle.

      • by PTBarnum (233319)

        In the US, people have certain rights to their image that are not based in copyright. The person in the picture does not own the copyright, but they still have the right to control commercial use of the photo.

        • by BitterOak (537666)

          In the US, people have certain rights to their image that are not based in copyright. The person in the picture does not own the copyright, but they still have the right to control commercial use of the photo.

          But how would my example be commercial use?

      • by HJED (1304957)
        Most countries have laws about taking photos of people that require there consent both at the time the photo was taken and again to publish it. A good lawyer could probably argued that such consent was implied though.
        • by egr (932620)
          "Yes. Now it may appear in the picture that I'm actually looking a the camera lens and smiling, with the penis in my mouth, and giving a thumbs up. But I assure you, I was fast asleep! "
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        In that case there would be no right to have the photo removed. The right to be forgotten only applies to data you yourself uploaded or your personal data that a commercial company keeps records of (like name, DOB etc).

    • This one sucks and shouldn't be there. Obviously people should be able to talk about others even if it's not journalism or art.

      I think the issue is more subtle than that. The question that I think is important is how those people came to have that information. Did I give it to them with the expectation that it would be used for one thing and their publishing it is using for something else. For example, showing an ID to prove my legal right to drink alcohol and get entry to a bar - I don't expect that bar to keep a record of my ID and then post a list of every customer on the bar's facebook page.

  • by redelm (54142) on Monday January 21, 2013 @08:14PM (#42652459) Homepage
    Most protests are ineffective because they rail against some wrongdoer in the hope of shaming them into reform. The effort is often vain because wrongdoers are very shame-resistant.

    This is a little different because the EU is not [yet] a major wrongdoer with respect to privacy. The protest is more to bolster their nerve against heavy pressure from the US govt (a ne'er-do-well).

    It enables the EU commissioners to say "The US is divided on this issue of privacy, with the govt saying one thing yet important people and organisations dissent)." So they get to do what they want anyways.

  • If I could trust the government to be smart about the rules they make, and to really understand web technology, the new restrictions might seem mildly attractive. Given the general incompetence of government, I think it best that slashdot decides how slashdot handles login, cookies, etc.
  • As an EU person (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zennyboy (1002544) on Monday January 21, 2013 @09:41PM (#42652981)

    I've seen more good rulings come out of EU than the US. With no in-depth information on a subject, I would more trust the EU with my person (/personal information) than the US (Government/US companies)...

  • Politicians are always this and that http://www.cusabio.com/pro_11.html [cusabio.com]
  • As an American (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:01PM (#42653101)

    I really wish we would adopt the European standards on privacy. This is one area where I freely admit the Euro's are doing things right and we are blatantly being ass backwards about things.

    /rant off

    • I'm so glad the EU is doing something right and we're standing up to unhealthy US corporate practices.

      The right to be forgotten is a brilliant idea. I know, I had it myself.

      Who gains? The people.
      Who loses? Companies whose business model is to whore our data.

      Obviously, this right could only be invoked if the invoker was not in debt to the data-holding company. Likewise, the data-holding company can not be held responsible for consequences of missing data.

      There are also some subtleties. Should eg FB be o

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        The right to be forgotten sounds appealing, it really does. When I first heard about it it sounded like something I liked. However the more I thought about it the more I thought about the **AA's playing whackamole and the logistical nightmares of actually trying to implement such a thing. The next problem is how do you separate it from censorship? It's also next to impossible to cleanly state when and where it should be granted.

        Can you demand the right to be forgotten by corporate databases? Facebook sounds

        • Susan remembers Bob before he went crazy and wants to keep his picture up from their wedding. Does Bob's desire to remove himself from Facebook trump Susan's right to remember her husband as he was before he took the crazy train out of town?

          Susan certainly has the right to retain a personal copy of such a photo, but if she insists on keeping it posted on FB, I'll insist on some counselling.

          (Survivor of a marriage that ended when my partner, as you so quaintly put it, "rode the crazy train out of town".)

        • by pjt33 (739471)

          In the EU, people already have

          the right to obtain from the [data] controller:

          (a) [snip]

          (b) as appropriate the rectification, erasure or blocking of data the processing of which does not comply with the provisions of this Directive, in particular because of the incomplete or inaccurate nature of the data;

          (c) notification to third parties to whom the data have been disclosed of any rectification, erasure or blocking carried out in compliance with (b), unless this proves impossible or involves a disproportionate effort.

          (Data Protection Directive [europa.eu]). So Jewell at the very least would have a right to insist that news agencies publish corrections (and I'm relieved to read that he won libel actions too).

          Some of your other examples don't make any sense to me, possibly because I'm missing some cultural background. Do you name and shame bad renters on a website? And with the employer background check - how is it going to help this ex-colleague if when another company does a background check along the

          • by onyxruby (118189)

            Their are dedicated databases that are used for things like rental history and the like. In my case my renter was stealing from me, something that most people don't want to risk. I have a right to make sure that information is published in dedicated databases of bad renters.

            In the case of the ex-colleage my point is he should not be helped. He should have had the FBI called and he should be sitting in prison, however that is another discussion. The company chose not to do so because they feared the publicit

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          The next problem is how do you separate it from censorship?

          Since you can only use it to remove things you yourself uploaded it is at worse only self censorship.

          Can you demand the right to be forgotten by corporate databases? Facebook sounds easy enough, but what about credit agencies, employers and news agencies?

          It is quite simple actually. You created your Facebook profile, all the stuff on there was typed in by you and uploaded by you. You have the right to have it deleted.

          Credit agencies and employers gather data from a variety of sources and are legally required to keep it for a certain amount of time. Once the legal requirements are expired you can ask for this information to be removed. In the case of credit a

          • by onyxruby (118189)

            Is it really this simple? I have dealt with one form of regulation (including some Euro regs) for many years now and I have never encountered something that simple. I don't know enough about how they are trying to do things, but having been there - done that with other regulations over the years I've learned bureaucracy is never simple.

            I'm not opposed to the concenpt of the 'right to forget', it's the logistical details that make me go, 'wait a moment'. If you have any good primers on the actual in's and ou

        • What about the arguments against censorship of people. Hypothetical Bob has his account on Facebook and wants everything about him removed from Facebook. Susan remembers Bob before he went crazy and wants to keep his picture up from their wedding. Does Bob's desire to remove himself from Facebook trump Susan's right to remember her husband as he was before he took the crazy train out of town?

          What's so crazy about removing yourself from facebook. YES his right to remove himself from Facebook trumps Susan's right to have their wedding picture on Facebook. If she want's to remember him, frame a picture and hang it on the friggin wall. I don't get why people should have the right to post Bob's picture on FB at all.

          Personally I threaten everybody with murder so they don't put any pictures of me on facebook.

  • Democracy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by manu0601 (2221348) on Monday January 21, 2013 @10:42PM (#42653347)
    Another practical example of how undemocratic the EU became: no need to lobby elected Members of European Parliament, just lobby the unelected European Commission. I got the feeling that a single US lobbyist weight more on UE politics than any number of EU citizens.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think you understand how the EU works. The Commission will circulate an idea and will give the private sector and the national governments a number of years to submit feedback, it will then come up with a draft and then after a similar process with a proposal, which is voted on by the democractically elected EU parliament. In addition, national governments also negotiate the text of the directive. Once everyone is happy, the directive is sent to the national governments who the implement it.

      What the

      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        I don't think you understand how the EU works.

        I pretend I do

        What the Commission has is known as a legislative initiative, not the right to impose laws.

        And it also has the ability to strip amendments from EU parliament before giving the text to the EU council, we saw that for the now dead Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CCID) for software patents

        But the monopoly of legislative initiative is also a powerful tool. Remember the Laval case? After the EU parliament removed the country of origin principle from the Directive on Services in the internal market, the EU court of justice ruled that since nothing was said in the directive, th

  • is to end the illusion that people are perfect.

  • There used to be a "right" to be forgotten in the US.

    People used to move a couple states away to reset the clock.

    But, sadly, we sold out to the former Reichsmarshals of the world.

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