Why doesn’t Google give individuals the right to reply? (Wired UK)

Instead of giving people the right to be
forgotten, why doesn’t Google give people the right to reply?


The Court of Justice of the EU’s ruling that people do have the
‘right to be forgotten’ and as such can ask Google to delink
articles from its search results, has raised a huge number of
compliance challenges for the search giant. Some critics of the
ruling — including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales — are concerned
that de-indexing perfectly legal content from the web is tantamount
to censorship.

PhD student Julia Powles [who is also a guest author on
Wired.co.uk] has proposed an alternative: the right to reply. She has worked
with Dr Jatinder
from the Computer Laboratory at the University of
Cambridge to build a mock-up of the mechanism
that could be used to empower individuals to take back control of
their own web narratives.

Just as businesses get to respond to negative reviews on
TripAdvisor, individuals should be able to add updates to Google’s
search results in order to rectify any out-of-date information,
such as the article about real estate repossession that triggered
this whole debacle. With a right to reply mechanism, Mario
Costeja-González would have been able to append a note to the
search result pointing out that he had since got his finances in

Powles explains in a longer post that: “Search results could be
tagged to indicate that a reply has been lodged, much as we see
with sponsored content on social media platforms.”

Something like this, for example:

A mock-up of a Google search result tagged by someone with the ‘right to reply’

“A register of replies
could then be established to interface with any search engine,
allowing the engine to query whether a right of reply or erasure
has been exercised. Clicking through to the register would detail
information by the individual who is exercising their data
protection rights about why and when information was rectified or
erased,” she explains. 

This is what the register might look like:

DC Comics hero The Flash speeds to screen in series teaser

Powles thinks that “this would probably be a good start to
actually addressing the thousands of legitimate interests that are
lined up outside data protection authorities”.

Powles is keen to point out that this is just a “basic mock-up”
of “a register of
rectification requests
and how it would interface with search
engines”. “This is just one idea to throw in the mix and we
hope it triggers debate about the kinds of solutions that people
want,” she adds.

“Instead of erasing information, the balance of interests in
many cases might be better satisfied by offering individuals the
chance to register a reply against links that affect them. This is
technically feasible and satisfies our common interest in ensuring
that information online is current and complete. You’d have to work
out how to validate identity, the amount of information to reveal,
and so on, but none of this is technically difficult.”

This is just one of the ideas she is exploring with colleagues
at Cambridge at the intersection between law and technology.

You can read Powles’ full post about the proposed
and the thinking behind it here. Let us know what you
think of the proposed mechanism in the comments

Image:  Twin Design / Shutterstock.com 

15 May 2014 | 3:40 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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