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from Jack Shafer:

The dangers of deputizing Google to bust child pornographers

Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard in Warsaw

"Don't be evil" -- the first sentence of Google's "Code of Conduct" -- has served as the technology company's corporate motto since its earliest days. But given Google's role in the arrest late last month of a Houston man on child pornography charges, perhaps we've been misreading it. Perhaps the motto is aimed at its customers, as in, "Don't you be evil or we'll have you busted."

Google, obviously, isn't the first Internet company to alert investigators of a user who might be transmitting or be in possession of child pornography images. Since the late 1990s, the law has required service providers to report apparent violations of child pornography laws. In 2004, for example, AOL provided a tip that resulted in a child pornography conviction. In 2007, Yahoo took similar action that helped earn a child pornography defendant a 16-year sentence. So far, the courts have rejected Fourth Amendment challenges to these prosecutions, and are likely to continue to do so. No credible sources have appeared to denounce the prosecutions as overkill, and I doubt if any will.

The Houston bust, in which John Henry Skillern allegedly sent explicit images of a young girl to a friend via email, comes a year after Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond renewed his company's commitment, which he dated to 2006, to expunge child pornography from the Web and identify its traffickers. As the company's email policies state, "Google has a zero-tolerance policy against child sexual abuse imagery. If we become aware of such content, we will report it to the appropriate authorities. …"

In its efforts, Google has funded groups that search for the images and, with other companies, has built a shared database of digital fingerprints (via "hashing") of the images. These fingerprints allow Google and other companies, such as Microsoft and Facebook, to "trawl" accounts for apparent violations of the child pornography laws. The hashing technology, it should be noted, is only as reliable as the database. If you were to create new child pornography this afternoon and load it on to the Web, Google's algorithms would not automatically detect it as child pornography until somebody identified it, fingerprinted it, and fed it to the database.

from The Great Debate UK:

The ‘Right to be Forgotten’: Something to remember

--Steve Girdler is managing director for EMEA at HireRight, a global provider of candidate due diligence services. The opinions expressed are his own--

The EU’s court ruling in May granted people the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ from Google searches, and while the issue is tied up in controversy for the time being, what it does do is convey the message that people should have the opportunity to move on from their past.

from Jack Shafer:

The truth is, you’ve never had the ‘right to be forgotten’

An illustration picture shows a Google logo with two one Euro coins

A recent ruling by Europe's top court has given its people a "right to be forgotten." Google and other search engines must now delete "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant, or excessive" information from search queries when a European individual requests it, even when the info is true. This isn't a classic case of censorship: the "offending" pages produced by newspapers and other websites will go untouched. Google and the other search engines just won't be allowed to link to them.

The court has largely left to the search engines how best to handle requests to decouple the names of petitioners from search results served, which has already produced major confusion, as well as a comically passive-aggressive response from Google, which has received more than 70,000 requests in the opening round, with 1,000 said to be arriving daily. (See this Washington Post editorial for a few examples of people who have succeeded in persuading Google to "delist" certain search results.)

from Alison Frankel:

Kozinski amends opinion in 9th Circuit ‘Innocence’ case v. Google

Something strange happened Friday in the infamous case of Cindy Lee Garcia v. Google at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who wrote the opinion in February that enjoined Google from linking to the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims," filed an amended opinion, even as the entire 9th Circuit considers Google's petition for en banc review of the controversial February ruling.

The amended opinion, in which Kozinski is joined by Judge Ronald Gould, left the injunction in place but walked back a step or two from the controversial holding that the actor Cindy Lee Garcia is likely to succeed on the merits of her claim that Google is infringing her copyrighted five-second performance in 'Innocence.' (Garcia, as you may recall, was deceived by the maker of the inflammatory film, who overdubbed her lines to make it appear as though her character was calling Mohammad a pedophile. The film led to riots in the Muslim world and death threats against Garcia.)

from Stories I’d like to see:

Google’s lost links, U.S. border crossing guards and when a Tea Party loss is a win

A Google search page is seen through a magnifying glass in this photo illustration taken in Brussels

1. Google’s dilemma:

Writing in the Guardian last week, Google general counsel David Drummond described the trouble the European unit of his company is having trying to implement a European Union court’s decision that the search giant must eliminate links to certain web articles or postings about people that these people claim are unduly embarrassing.

The European court’s “right to be forgotten decision,” Drummond wrote, “found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.’ In deciding what to remove, search engines must also have regard to the public interest.

from Edward Hadas:

Google and the right to be forgotten

The public has a right to know. Individuals have a right to privacy. The common good is served by both these contradictory statements, so someone has to decide how to balance them when they come into conflict. When it comes to internet search, the European Union’s Court of Justice has given the job to search engine providers such as Google. In a way, that’s a good call.

The court decided in May that some internet links deserve to be “forgotten” because certain data can over time become “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”. The search operators were held responsible, in the first instance, for judging whether to grant requests to remove links.

from Breakingviews:

Heed New York Times governance risk headlines

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

As investors surrender rights to founders of today’s internet darlings, they may want to consider the imbroglio at the New York Times Co. It’s an excellent lesson of what can happen when once-entrusted competent leaders are gone and their successors become entrenched.

from Breakingviews:

Rob Cox: ITT’s ghost hangs over Silicon Valley

By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The number of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley familiar with the work of Harold Geneen would hardly fill a 140-character tweet. After all, Geneen wasn’t a technologist, the inventor of a new computing language or the founder of a seminal startup. He was the original M&A machine – the man whose deal-making 50 years ago turned ITT into a multibillion-dollar conglomerate.

from Alison Frankel:

Lesson from the smartphone wars: Litigation is not a business plan

After almost five years of suing each other in courts in the United States and Europe over patents on mobile devices, Apple and Google abruptly announced Friday night that they've called a ceasefire: They're dropping all of the litigation. They're not even making a deal to cross-license one another's IP, just declaring a truce and walking away.

Apple has not yet settled with Samsung, the device manufacturer that most successfully employs Google's Android operating system, so the two companies haven't entirely resolved their dispute; evidence from the recently concluded patent infringement trial between Apple and Samsung in San Jose, Calif., revealed that Google is paying at least part of Samsung's defense costs. (The Korea Times reported Monday that Apple and Samsung are in global settlement talks.) Until there's a Samsung deal, two law professors, Brian Love of Santa Clara University and Michael Risch of Villanova told Bloomberg, the Google settlement is more important as a symbol than for any actual impact.

from Breakingviews:

Mini-me tech bubble is mere shadow of 2000 excess

By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The latest mini-me internet bubble is a mere shadow of the excesses that came crashing to an end in 2000. Sure, even though the run-up may have paused, the feverish signs are unmistakable. Dozens of companies are in line to float, hubris is rampant, oddball valuation metrics abound, and revenue-free startups are still worth fortunes. Even nerd culture has somehow become hip. The latest boom is as absurd as the last, but it’s far smaller.

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