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Feed Techdirt: Guy Who Won Original Right To Be Forgotten Case Loses His Attempt To Have New Story About His Past Forgotten (

The whole right to be forgotten thing over in Europe continues to get more and more bizarre. Not too long ago, we wrote about one Thomas Goolnik, who had succeeded in getting an old NY Times story about him "delinked" from his name in Europe. The NY Times then wrote about that delinking, and we wrote about the NY Times article. Mr. Goolnik then succeeded in having our article about his successful right to be forgotten attempt also forgotten by Google. So we wrote about that too. And, once again, Goolnik succeeded in having that story forgotten. As of yet, it appears our final story on Goolnik has remained accessible on European searches for Goolnik's name, but we have no idea if it's because Google has realized that it should remain up or if Goolnik just hasn't made a request.

Meanwhile, it appears that the guy who first convinced the European Court of Justice to enforce this right to be forgotten, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, may have run into a similar situation. As you probably remember, Costeja brought the original case that argued that Google should no longer show results on searches for his name that linked to some stories in the late 90s about his being forced to sell some land to cover debts. The Court eventually decided that since this information was no longer "relevant," that under the data protection directive, it should be "delinked" in Google's database as a "privacy" measure.

Of course, as many people pointed out, in bringing that very case, the details of Costeja's financial transactions suddenly became relevant again. And, apparently that resulted in more people commenting on Costeja, including an article entitled "The unforgettable story of the seizure to the defaulter Mario Costeja Gonzalez that happened in 1998." And, as you might imagine, he wasn't too happy about some of the comments, and with this newfound power that he helped create in hand, he demanded that Google also take down links to such comments (most likely including that article linked in this paragraph).

And here's where it gets fun: Google refused. And so Costeja went to the Spanish Data Protection Authority to complain... and the Spanish DPA rejected his claim, noting that this information is now relevant in part because Costeja himself made it relevant again.

Now the DPA finds that there is indeed a preponderant interest of the public in the comments about the famous case that gave rise to the CJEU judgment of May 13, 2014 – and expressly reminds that the claimant itself went public about the details.
So, yes, the right to be forgotten has now made the story that was "successfully" forgotten originally so newsworthy that it may no longer be forgotten, and in fact is much more widely known. I think we've heard of some term for that before...

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Comment Re:Yes and no, but mostly no. (Score 1) 83

One, the spec is positively Byzantine. It makes OpenPGP look like a marvel of clarity. It's a very hard spec to implement correctly, and for that reason I distrust most of the S/MIME out there.

Two, S/MIME has some hardwired dependencies on SHA-1. (So does OpenPGP; S/MIME has more of them.) SHA-1 isn't looking very healthy right now. OpenPGP is migrating away from SHA-1 and the working group is actively developing a new spec. The S/MIME community isn't.

Comment Re:Yes and no, but mostly no. (Score 1) 83

The biggest problem with OpenPGP is that it doesn't protect the metadata.

It's about to. :)

Daniel Kahn Gillmor had a novel idea for how to use PGP/MIME in a creative way to extend protection to virtually all the email header information. Enigmail is implementing this, as are a few other groups. Metadata protection is coming to OpenPGP -- and very soon!

Comment Re:Yes and no, but mostly no. (Score 1) 83

Quoting myself:

And some people -- idiots who don't understand that optimizing one of these may necessarily mean pessimizing another -- smile and say, "Yes!"

You're one of those idiots: I get it. But so long as you're saying "improve everything!" I'm going to ignore you, because some of these things are incompatible.

Comment Yes and no, but mostly no. (Score 5, Insightful) 83

Yes and no, but mostly no. (ObDisclosure: I help out with Enigmail.)

  • Could we do better? Maybe. Probably. But first you'll have to define what "better" means. Some people say it means stronger crypto. Some say it means a simpler RFC. Some say it means a better user interface/user experience. And some people -- idiots who don't understand that optimizing one of these may necessarily mean pessimizing another -- smile and say, "Yes!" Honestly, when it comes to "we can do better" style criticism, my response is simple: I know we can do better -- but first you have to tell me what 'better' means.
  • But that doesn't matter. When it comes to communications security the world is divided into two camps. The first one doesn't need it right now and the second one does. If you don't need communications security right now, that gives you a great amount of luxury to sit on the sidelines and wait for something better to come along. If you do, though ... then GnuPG and Enigmail are pretty much the best thing going right now, at least when it comes to email.

  • Alternatives? What alternatives? The only alternative right now for email security is S/MIME, and that's far worse than OpenPGP. If you want to communicate using Silent Circle, go for it. Want to use OTR, be my guest. But if you need email security... "it's probably time to look into alternatives" is the kind of advice that sounds good only until you realize just how few alternatives there are, or how lousy they are.

I'll be the first to agree that GnuPG is a usability nightmare. Absolutely. If you like I'll point you towards several references in the peer-reviewed literature that show why it's so bad. But when people start talking about alternatives, I want to know which alternatives they're suggesting; when people start talking about doing it better, I want to know what better means.

Comment Re:Not to be taken seriously (Score 1) 112

I didn't say it was proven. I said it was a result. We don't have a formal proof that P != NP, but find me a single practitioner who thinks we'll find a proof of P = NP.

At some level math works on the basis of consensus. Consensus determines whether we accept a proof or reject it for omitting an important step; consensus determines which axioms we accept to be true. And so far, the consensus seems to be "BQP != NP, just like P != NP."

But yes, we're going to keep looking for the proofs. :)

Comment Re:Not to be taken seriously (Score 1) 112

Depends on what you mean by proven. It's believed about as strongly as people believe P != NP. There's zero evidence BQP can address NP-Complete (or, for that matter, even interesting parts of NP), and a lot of good reasons to believe it can't. However, a proof has been as elusive as the P != NP proof -- another thing which pretty much every CS nerd agrees to be true, but it hasn't been rigorously proven yet.

Comment Not to be taken seriously (Score 4, Interesting) 112

Quantum computers cannot solve NP-Hard or NP-Complete problems -- at least, no faster than a classical computer. This is one of the most basic results in the field, and the author keeps on making hash of it. This article should not be taken seriously if it's rife with such basic errors.

Comment Re:10 LET M$ = "Microsoft" (Score 1) 132

I was around when the M$ nickname got coined.

It was a shortening of Micro$oft. We did the same thing with the Compuserve Information Service (CIS), which charged such outrageous rates that we started calling them CI$. Replacing the "s" of rapacious firms with "$" was pretty much standard practice then -- and, at that time, nobody deserved it more than Microsoft.

Comment Re:How sad (Score 2) 132

Apparently, you missed the news from a while ago about Microsoft releasing the CLR under a free software license. Check it out.

I've been a Slashdot reader since back when it was called Chips & Dips. Back then, Microsoft deserved the M$ appellation. Today, not so much. They're cooperating a lot more with the libre software community. Now, you can either shake your fist at them and scream how they'll never be forgiven for their sins... or you can smile, extend a hand, and welcome them to the party.

The world works better if more people choose the latter. And that applies to life in general, not just Microsoft. :)

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long