7 Conundrums of the Right to be Forgotten

Digital Eraser

The recent ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has re-ignited debate about the “right to be forgotten”, or perhaps more accurately the right to have certain information purged from the Internet. While this right provides some real privacy benefits, it runs up against free speech and jurisdictional problems.

Here are seven conundrums around the right to be forgotten and the recent ECJ ruling:

  1. The ECJ ruling provides for removing search results, but not for removing the underlying web page. In the case in question, a newspaper article is allowed to stay on-line, but a search on the plaintiff’s name must not return a link to that page.
  2. While the search result would be removed when the search is the person’s name, other searches for the information would show that link.
  3. The ECJ does not give you a right to remove anything harmful or embarrassing to you, only information “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing”
  4. You don’t have a right to have certain information forgotten if that is newsworthy and noteworthy. In other words, if this was likely to be searched for by a lot of people, then you can’t remove it.
  5. The ECJ ruling only applies to EU residents . If you are outside the EU, or using a search engine outside the EU then you don’t have this right.
  6. The ECJ ruling only applies to search engines operating in the EU. If the search engine is exclusively operating outside the EU, or is being accessed from outside the EU, then the search results would still be visible. This means that you would get the search results if you were using Anonymizer Universal from within the EU.
  7. The tools and laws used to enforce the right to be forgotten are very similar to the techniques used for censorship by repressive regimes. Once in place, the urge to use the power more broadly has been irresistible to governments that obtain it.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me onFacebookTwitter, and Google+.

The Privacy Blog

The one thing you need to do about password breaches

Password Sticky Note

The recent Ebay password compromise is just the latest in a string of similar attacks. Each time we hear a call for people to change their passwords. Sometimes the attacked company will require password changes, but more often it is just a suggestion; a suggestion that a majority choose to ignore.

Further exacerbating the problem is the tendency of people to use the same username and password across many different websites. Even if a compromised website does require a password change on that site, it has no way of forcing users to change their passwords on any other sites where the same password was used. This matters because a smart attacker will try any username / password pairs he discovers against a range of interesting websites of value, like banks. Even though the compromise may have been on an unimportant website, it could give access to your most valuable accounts if you re-used the password.

The burden on the user can also be significant. If a password is used on 20 websites, then after a compromise it should be changed on all 20 (ideally to 20 different passwords this time). People who maintain good password discipline only need to change the one password on the single compromised website.

Trying to remember a large number of strong passwords is impossible for most of us. Some common results are that the the passwords are too simple,  the passwords all follow a simple and predictable pattern, passwords are re-used, or some or all of these at once.

Many companies and standards organizations are working hard to replace the password with a stronger alternative. Apple is using fingerprint scanners in its latest phones, and tools like OAUTH keep the actual password (or password hash) off the website entirely. Two factor authentication adds a hardware device to the mix making compromise of a password less damaging. So far many of these approaches have shown promise, but all have some disadvantages or vulnerabilities, and none appear to be a silver bullet.


For now, best practice is to use a password vault. I use 1Password but LastPassDashlane, and others are also well regarded. Create unique long random passwords for every website (since you no longer need to actually remember any of them). Don’t wait. If you are not using one of these tools, get it and start using it now.

Lance Cottrell is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Anonymizer. Follow me onFacebookTwitter, and Google+.

The Privacy Blog

Video: Last Week’s FCC Net Neutrality Freak Show in One-Minute

These pictures, and the attached 1-minute video (at bottom), were taken from last Thursday’s FCC Net Neutrality freak show / protests.  The first two pictures seem innocent enough – a girl with a .50 cup of Starbucks coffee, who essentially wants the Internet for free; and the second, an “Occupy Protester” who probably wants all private property (except his) to be free for the 99%.

9The third picture (just below) is the scary one, though – former edge industry lobbyist and now FCC official, Gigi Sohn (with pointing finger), holding court with Google lobbyist, Marvin Ammori (first from left), and Free Press / edge industry lobbyist, Matt Wood (second from right), among others, just before the FCC’s Net Neutrality open meeting. The Net Neutrality rule – which has been twice rejected by the DC Circuit – primarily benefits and subsidizes the edge. That is, companies like Google and Netflix. All the freak show stuff at the protests is just a distraction. The people there, just tools of these power brokers.


Don’t be evil? Protect the little guy?

Umm, sure.

Net Neutrality has always been about big edge companies wanting us all to pay for their traffic.  A free ride.  Ironically (and sadly), in getting what they’ve wished for – an inevitable Net Neutrality rule – someday those same rules will find use against them…

…to help the little guy.

The regulatory genie can’t be put back in the bottle. If that’s not evil, I don’t know what is.

Media Freedom


It has been leaked from Mayor Gahan’s Office to us, Chief of Police Sherry Knight will be replaced.

Bye, bye Mrs. Knight…

Karma has a way of coming back and biting you in the ass.

Thanks Shane for the info….


May 20, 2014

Dear Mayor Gahan,

Please accept this letter as my formal request for reassignment to my former position within the Detective division of the New Albany Police Department.  After consideration, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of my family and myself, to transition out of my position as Chief and spend more time with my family. I will continue to focus on serving the citizens of my community as a member of the New Albany Police Department.

I want to emphasize my appreciation for the opportunity to serve as Chief pf Police. It has been an honor to be the first female appointed to that position. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to serve as Chief.

Sherri Knight 

Freedom Of Speech would like to say:

Gahan would not say the Knights and Pennell requests  related to any corruption investigations, although he did say the grand jury would be considering indictments involving members of the New Albany Police Department.

Gahan also declined to say whether Knight and Pennell were forced to ask to be reassigned.

Freedom of Speech feels Mayor Gahan looked like a “deer in headlights” tonight when asked why Mrs. Knight had resigned. Hey Jeff, how about telling the citizens of New Albany the truth. If you won’t we will….

FCC’s Next Net Neutrality Rule Must Not Be Buzzkill to Innovation, Growth

The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, Director of MediaFreedom.org:

Alexandria, VA, May 15, 2014 - Today, Tom Wheeler and his majority Commissioners at the FCC will begin again the agency’s process of concocting another regulatory roofie to protect the Internet from itself.  If the odd events of the past couple of weeks and the Grateful Dead drum jam protests presently outside the FCC are any indication, we’re in for a long strange acid trip of a new Net Neutrality rule by year’s end.

Though the Chairman has clammed up since trying to explain away his faith in “reasonable discrimination,” on Tuesday, FCC official, Gigi Sohn, gave fresh indications of where the new rule might be headed anyway, noting on Twitter:

“[The] Chairman knows [the] free market won’t protect [the] open Internet.  That’s why he’s proposing new [Net Neutrality] rules – none exist today.”

Translation? The free market Internet is kaput.  Permissionless innovation over.  And, the whole interconnected Internet ecosystem is on notice that vast new regulation is never more than a drum jam session away from happening.

A buzzkill to growth and innovation?  I’ll say.

Tom Wheeler’s FCC could certainly refrain from imposing a new Net Neutrality rule, waiting instead to see if consumers are in fact being harmed, and then acting with current authority to address any specific problems.  Or, it could follow a “commercially reasonable,” case-by-case approach that would allow, among other things, policed negotiations between ISPs and edge providers for prioritized service – arrangements available in every other segment of our economy.

Instead, the drum beat of news leaks and activist petitions inform us that the worst remedy in the FCC’s regulatory goodie bag – i.e., FDR-era phone regulation, otherwise known as Title ll – might be just what the pusher ordered to cure the Internet of its free market Jones.

For the lion’s share of the 20th Century, American consumers were “protected” from the free market and competition by “well-meaning” policymakers who hooked consumers on the supposed beneficence of state-controlled markets.

Only when that control ended did Americans get an Internet worth “saving.”

Policymaking by Grateful Dead jam session sure sounds like fun, but when the music’s over, the hangover’s a hard one to shake.  It took a generation to get rid of the last one.  Can tomorrow’s Internet consumers wait that long to rid themselves of the next?  MediaFreedom hopes the Commission avoids that jam.


Media Freedom

No “Fast Lanes” Not Happening

The Left’s all in a tizzy about the FCC’s latest Net Neutrality proposal. In its view, unless the Commission reclassifies ISPs as old-time telephone utilities, the FCC is screwing America. Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz picks up on this craziness, today noting:

The Internet has always operated with the fast lanes lobbyists now oppose…Contrary to arguments by net-neutrality lobbyists, even being a public utility doesn’t ban fast lanes: The highly regulated Postal Service offers Priority and Express mail, and regulated toll roads, tunnels and bridges have literal fast lanes.

Early last week I tweeted out a bunch of simple graphics that, while I can’t say for sure if Crovitz saw these, certainly illustrate what he’s talking about.

Fast Lanes post3 Hov2 Here’s the 4-1-1 for the anti-property Left, which so wants benign-sounding reclassification / Title ll for ISPs: Even if it gets imposed by the FCC (which it hopefully won’t), the Communications Act and the Constitution demand that “reasonable discrimination” happen. Among other things, past Title ll practice at the FCC has allowed volume discounts for big users, private carriage arrangements, business to local cross-subsidies, and, yes, dreaded “fast lanes” for customers willing to pay for them. This inevitably will continue if such a rule is enacted by the agency.

Crovitz’s larger point in his article – that is, be careful what you wish for, Silicon Valley – is the real danger. Even with the “lesser” 706 proposal on the table for the pending Net Neutrality rule (which allows for “fast lanes”), the FCC is seeking to use its power to directly regulate the Internet.

Warns Crovitz:

Ironically, the pro-innovation arguments once associated with Silicon Valley are now being made by Internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon. CEOs of 28 ISPs objected in a letter to Mr. Wheeler that new regulations over the Internet would mean the “FCC has plenary authority to regulate rates, terms and conditions, mandate wholesale access to broadband networks, transit providers and connected devices.” The letter warned: “An era of differentiation, innovation and experimentation would be replaced with a series of ‘Government may I?’ requests from American entrepreneurs.” (Emphasis added)

Wow. Heads the FCC wins, tails we lose.

Thanks, Silicon Valley for that great gift!

Oh, and thanks, “consumer advocates” – like Public Knowledge, Free Press and New America Foundation – that used Silicon Valley support (and lots of it) to push for Net Neutrality. Y’all asked for it, now you own it.  Sad, however, that the average American will be stuck paying your bill.

Media Freedom


Grand Jury in. Press Conference today.

MSM Writes FCC’s Net Neutrality Press Releases; Google and Friendlies Snicker in Delight

Without argument, the Left-dominated press likes big government programs like Net Neutrality. Last week’s coverage of the FCC’s Net Neutrality meeting only confirmed this, as the mainstream media (MSM) seemingly worked in overdrive to promote Net Neutrality for the Commission, and virtually ignore conservative point of view, which stands against the Commission’s plans.  As one reporter accidentally let slip to me, his inbox was filled with “half lefty groups attacking the FCC for killing net neutrality and half lefty groups hailing the FCC for moving toward it.”

Why report on any other ideas when “100%” wants some form of Net Neutrality?  Anyway, “the left-leaning groups seem to care way more about this,” he assured me.  So, I guess it was OK to focus on them, right?

Yeah, right.

Seton Motley surveyed this weekend’s media coverage of the event, pointing out:

The all-encompassing government-Internet-power-grab that is Network Neutrality rarely gets outside-the-Tech-World media attention.  But Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in Democrat Party-line fashion to begin its process of imposing it.  This was a big enough deal that it garnered over-the-weekend Big Media coverage from ABC (with a Bloomberg assist) and PBS (with a Washington Post assist).

And it will shock you to learn that they only provided the pro-regulation side of the discussion – leaving out myriad essential points that are at cross-purposes with their government-growth efforts.

Their reporting was in fact so warped that – as huge as the FCC’s power grab is – there was palpable upset that the Commission didn’t go further.  And hope that it will increase its overreach as the process moves forward. (Emphasis added)

The MSM does great government work, writing the FCC’s press releases.  Google – which has been the main bankroller of the concept through the entire decade-long FCC process – makes sure of it.  The company’s revenue model depends on a free ride over the Internet to end-users.  Consequently, Google is thick as thieves with reporters so the company’s we-protect-the-little-guy narrative gets faithfully, relentlessly transmitted to the low-information reader.

This relationship is very comfortable.  Very.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s a telling shot I took of Politico tech reporter, Brooks Boliek (center), and Google lobbyist, Marvin Ammori (left), last week outside the FCC before the Net Neutrality vote. Remember this. Conservatives are not allowed to rub elbows with the Left-leaning MSM. We are kept at great distance – and out of the press – because the MSM considers our ideas a real threat to their power and control.  And, of course, they offend Google, the king maker.


Ask any reporter worth their salt and they’ll tell you this is poor form.  So, why would a reporter do this so out in the open?  Because he can.  And, he knows no one who matters will care.  After all – 100% agree with their (Google’s, the reporter’s, the DNC’s) point of view.  There are no other ideas worth reporting, in their eyes.

It’s time to pay attention to these laughing men behind the curtain.  The stories they tell are destroying our liberties, indenturing our servitude to companies like Google, and big government politicians who want us to depend only on them in times of need and calamity (which would be a lot more if they had their way).

This isn’t funny any longer.  It’s time to jam their transmission.

Media Freedom

This Week: Internet Privacy

ABC’s This Week did a segment on Internet privacy, including a discussion of Europe’s new ruling on the right to be forgotten. Watch the segment here.
Privacy Lives