My right to be forgotten is your right to die 

Episode 248 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

If the surgeon about to operate on you has been disciplined for neglecting patients, wouldn't you like to know? Well, the mandarins of European Union privacy law beg to differ. Google has been told by a Dutch court not to tell anyone about the disciplined doctor, and there seems to have been a six-month lag in disclosing even the court ruling. Gus Hurwitz and I are appalled. I repeat my long-standing view that in the end, privacy law just protects the privileged. Gus agrees.

This week's interview is with John Carlin, author of Dawn of the Code War. It's a great inside story of how we came to indict China's hacker-spies for attacking US companies.

In other news, the Illinois Supreme Court has demonstrated just how bad Illinois' biometric privacy law is – by the simple expedient of applying it the way it's written.

Dr. Megan Reiss and I air our ambivalence about the latest site hosting collections of doxed messages. We lack enthusiasm for indiscriminate doxing of the kind highlighted on Distributed Denial of Secrets, but if it's got to happen, it couldn't happen to a nicer Russian dictator.

Nick Weaver explains the DHS emergency order telling civilian agencies to protect themselves against DNS hijacking, and why the shutdown may have made those agencies more vulnerable.

Nick and I debate YouTube's latest algorithmic tweak to avoid recommending "borderline" material. He notes that the tweak is to correct an algorithm that used to push people toward extremes. I counter that this tweak turns out to be a suspiciously good way for YouTube Social Justice Warriors to suppress videos they don't like but can't actually show to be violating YouTube's terms of service.

Speaking of which, maybe the real singularity will be when Silicon Valley SJWs join forces with Beijing to produce technology to suppress WrongThink once and for all. If so, the singularity is nigh, in the form of a Chinese app that allows you to identify all the people around you who deserve to be shamed. Of course, when it comes from Twitter, instead of identifying those who haven't paid their debts, the app will identify anyone who ever wore a MAGA hat. And it will have a cooler name. Maybe #Punchable.

Download the 248th Episode (mp3).

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18 responses to “My right to be forgotten is your right to die 

  1. I repeat my long-standing view that in the end, privacy law just protects the privileged. Gus agrees.

    And like all your other views on infosec and privacy – you would be wrong.

    1. Baker is almost always wrong, but not in this case. Your right to be forgotten ends where the other man’s right to remember begins.

      1. I am no fan of Baker, but he is completely correct here.

        1. Mr. Baker is entitled to possess and express his opinions, but that he does so at an ostensibly libertarian blog at an ostensibly libertarian website is remarkable.

          Until one considers the prominence of faux libertarianism in some circles.

          1. You’re not forceful enough in your denunciations of fake libertarians. You’re not a true liberal, at heart, you’re an accommodationist.

          2. “…but that he does so at an ostensibly libertarian blog…”

            Hmmm. EV has repeatedly told Kirkland that this is not an ostensibly libertarian, buy Kirkland keeps saying it anyway. You can really tell that Kirkland used to be a left-wing journalist.

            1. ” EV has repeatedly told Kirkland that this is not an ostensibly libertarian, buy Kirkland keeps saying it anyway.”

              Perhaps because the masthead claims it is “frequently libertarian”.

              1. Well, Baker doesn’t post frequently.

          3. So a libertarian should support state coercion to prevent people from sharing true facts about others?

  2. If the nations that make up the EU don’t want the disciplinary actions against a doctor to be available to the public then they should not publish these actions so that they can be pickup by a internet search engine. If this information is not published then Google and others cannot publish it.
    The EU in a pretense of protecting the public are instead sowing the seeds of its destruction. For instance if a person has been accused of some terrible crime such as being apart of a ISIS cell or some other group bent on killing large numbers of citizens and non-citizens. Has not these people have just as much of a right to be forgotten as someone who cheats at some business deal? So by forcing the search engines to not report these incidents it is putting the public in danger. Danger of dying as the example in this article but also in danger of being cheated if one cannot find out that the person you are considering making a business deal with has bad raps in the past.

    1. You clearly didn’t read the article. The disciplinary action was overturned/reduced on appeal, and the problem was that the original punishment still showed up in all the search results.

      As for your other questions, in many EU countries (including the Netherlands, where this doctor’s case is from), the names of criminal defendants are redacted from all public records as a matter of course, even if they are ultimately convicted. So yes, there are a number of individuals convicted of terrorism offences in Dutch prison whose names and appearances are not known to the public. Then again, they’re in prison, so I’m not sure why that would be a problem.

      The business example is slightly different, since there it would generally be private individuals speaking, rather than the government. So then you’re balancing free speech rights against privacy rights, meaning that things like Yelp are generally unproblematic. (Subject to the usual data protection principles.)

      1. “Then again, they’re in prison, so I’m not sure why that would be a problem.”

        Are they in prison for life?

      2. “The disciplinary action was overturned/reduced on appeal, and the problem was that the original punishment still showed up in all the search results.”

        Now, this is a problem because…

        1. Because whatever free speech rights might be engaged here, they certainly don’t apply to inaccurate factual information.

  3. Don’t let your critics get you down Stewart. You’re becoming a showmam.

    The podcast is improving and the titles to these blog posts very much beter.

  4. The solution seems simple to me; if you, as a doctor disciplined for malpractice, wish to be forgotten, then you have an absolute right to….once you surrender your license to practice.

    1. You’re inviting unlicensed practice of medicine. Now, some libertarians will support that, but some won’t (depends on whether they consider the right to do what you want without the government getting in the way to be the more important right, or being able to trust that your “doctor” is qualified is the more important right.)

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