There is a rumbling in the European Union, and in a global society, especially with high-tech, what happens elsewhere does not necessarily stay elsewhere, and vice versa.
The interesting developments in the EU surround social media, in particular around the region’s “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) part within the new EU privacy regulations. For those of us who may not know exactly what that law is, in a nutshell, it compels engines, like Google, to remove search listings about people if they get the appropriate court orders. While this has been in and out of the courts, so far, it has stood. And it is beginning to expand delisting, globally.
And, it is not just across Europe. China has viewed Google as a threat to its government almost from the beginning. As well, there are similar sentiments in America’s political ecosystem although the movement is mostly noise so far.
That has Google and others sweating. So much, in fact, that Larry Page, Alphabet and Google’s co-founder was absent at the call to testify on Capitol Hill recently. The other gangsters, CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, where trying to save their bacon about how such social media giants have exploited their platforms.
All of this is with good reason. Recently, the EU fined Google $5.1 billion in an antitrust case over the dominance of Google’s Android mobile operating system. This is several times the amount that Microsoft was fined when Google, Sun, and Oracle went to the EU to whine that Microsoft should open its OS to competing browsers. And this was not the first time Google was fined. Back in 2016, France fined Google €100,000 for delisting non-compliance.
In the United States, lawmakers, given Russian-backed manipulation of Google’s platforms in the 2016 presidential election, are exploring avenues to regulate YouTube and examine Google’s practices.
This raises an interesting issue. Is it possible that Google, and other social media companies, may be cut off at the knees? There is much talk about that within the Trump administration. As well, the EU will continue to levy fines for what they see a non-compliance with rules and regulations. There is even the possibility that it will be taken over by the government, mainly under the guise of national security.
Staring down the barrels of these shotguns, bleeding edge companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Intel, Uber, Tesla and others, are looking to radically alter their business. Not because of competition, but because of avoidable arrogance and stupid behavior.
In the end, there is the argument (from Google) that no single country should be able to impose its rules on the citizens of another country, especially when it comes to linking to lawful content. That was Google’s defense in 2015, shortly after the EU’s ruling that search engines must honor European’s privacy rights. The battle, since then has not been over delisting but if it should be global and not just geographic.
However, German member of Parliament Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger noted “The Internet is global; the protection of the user’s rights must also be global.”
This is an issue that will take some time to resolve. There is also the option to remove reference to any sensitive personal information about individuals. That is still in the process. However, if this were granted, that would affect a much wider demographic.
While I made this sound as if governments are looking to stifle legitimate free speech practices, this is not the case. Current right to delist is not absolute in the regulations and laws. The RTBF only applies to private individuals, not to public figures (e.g. politicians and journalists); and also only applies where the information in question is outdated or irrelevant. So, it is bounded and balanced and absolutely does not apply to every individual and every piece of sensitive personal data.
I have long been an advocate of having my data removed, if I ask for it, as long as it is legitimate. It should not require a lawsuit! I am, also, not in favor of people such as convicted molesters being able to remove their data. Same for politicians, criminals, in general, public companies or organizations and any other entity or person that has “need to know” status.
I am glad to see the EU taking a strong stance on this. I wish the same zeal to protect people had higher priority here in the states. In the end, both social media and individuals share the blame. Both sides of this aisle need to get it together. If not, higher powers will do it for them, which is the current path.
I think the time has come for me to develop an algorithm that scours the web and whenever it finds data of mine, lets me know where and what, and I can send a spike to the data miner to strike my data. That would be so cool. Who is with me?