This article originally appeared in the 5.15.14 issue of Metroland.
net neutrality crisis I talked about last time will take a long time to play
out, but it’s sure started playing.
couple of weeks ago, it was leaked that FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler was going
to issue a proposed regulation that would allow for an internet “fast lane” for
large users that wanted to pay for it.
In short, the death of net neutrality.
surprisingly (not to me, anyway) the ‘net exploded and the FCC was bombarded
with hundreds of thousands of emails, a ton of petitions, and so many phone
calls that its switchboard repeatedly went down.
There are reports that the atmosphere at the
FCC is suddenly chaotic.
camping out in front of the FCC offices.
Musicians, internet start ups and even some of the biggest
internet-based companies (like Google and Netflix) have issue public statements
opposing the measure.
Two of the other
FCC commissioners have called for a delay of the roll-out of the proposed reg,
which is supposed to happen on Thursday, May 15.
Chairman Wheeler announced that, based on public comment, he was revising the
as-yet unsubmitted proposal, but as he described them, these proposed revisions
don’t really cure the flaws of the original.
This is an
incredibly fluid situation, and who knows where this is going.
But it’s incredibly important, and if you
want to voice your support of a truly fair and open internet, the FCC has set
up a dedicated mailbox for your comments: email@example.com.
And if you read this in time and want to
watch the roll-out live, if it actually happens, you can catch the feed of the
hearing at fcc.gov starting at 10:30 AM Thursday morning.
proposed regulation is unveiled, there will be a further public comment period
that you can participate in.
you know how when it’s time.
Here in the US we’re so used to the
freedom of speech as something approaching an absolute that it can be stunning
to see other countries of the free and democratic and non-totalitarian variety
cavalierly disregard it.
And there was a
whopper this week.
In Europe there’s
apparently a concept floating around called, remarkably, the “right to be
It’s essentially a privacy
concept, rooted in the concept of anonymity and being free from one’s
Kind of weird, right?
highest court of the European Union doesn’t think so.
This week it ruled that the “right to be
forgotten” was alive and well, that it applied to information that turns up in
internet search engines, and that internet search engine companies had the
ability to remove information from search results.
Therefore, the court concluded, companies
like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft had a legal duty to remove search results
related to people when the information in the search results "appear(s) to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer
relevant or excessive … in the light of the time that had elapsed". And by it’s language, this decision applies
even where the information is true and a matter of public record. The case was brought by a Spanish guy who was
angry that a 1998 newspaper article listing the repossession of his house was
showing up when you googled him. The
Spanish guy figured that the matter had been resolved long ago, and so it
shouldn’t come back to haunt him now.
And the court agreed!
having a hard time getting my mind around this.
I can’t help but wonder if the judges either don’t use the internet,
and/or have an irrational hatred of it, and/or have a profoundly bizarre philosophic
bent in matters concerning personal privacy.
Because this is nuts. Think about
it. First of all, who gets to decide
what’s “inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive”?
The subject? The search engine
company? Are they going to establish
little bureaucratic agencies to figure it out?
And every one of these criteria are incredibly subjective to the point
of being meaningless.
so you figure out what has to go and then what?
The search companies will have to hire massive numbers of employees to code
specific search requests to ignore certain search results. What about close spellings? What about repostings, or the natural
evolution of a search result over time?
hey, does this apply to corporations, too, my friend? And what happens if you access a search
engine that’s not under the jurisdiction of the EU/ And will Google be liable if it removes
something that later could be shown to have prevented a murder had it stayed
no expert on EU law, but I’m guessing that the EU parliamentary body will now
need to pass some kind of directive to reverse this judicial ruling. And I’m also guessing that getting things
passed through this multi-cultural, baggage-laden body is the legal equivalent
to herding cats.
Paul Rapp is a crotchety IP lawyer who changed his mind
and decided that yes, he will let this torn rotator cuff slow him down.