• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:19am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 3:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 3:57am

Don't follow EU's bad privacy ruling in Hong Kong

It sounds less ominous in Spanish. After all, the case that started the imbroglio originated from Spain. Derecho al olvido means roughly the right to turn over a new leaf. In French, it's droit à l'oubli, which is close to the English of "the right to be forgotten".

People in the European Union with links on the internet to public records they are unhappy about can now demand Google and other search engines delete such references, after a ruling by the highest court of the EU last month.

A Financial Times commentator who denounced the absurdity of the ruling wrote at the time: "Those in the US and Asia will remain unaffected, rather as Google in Hong Kong presents the search results that the Chinese government refuses to permit on the mainland …

"Before long, people's search results will start to resemble official biographies, recording only the facts that they want other people to know, and not the reality."

He spoke too soon. Our privacy chief Allan Chiang Yam-wang wants Google in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions across Asia to offer a similar service.

There is a difference, though. In the EU, the service is demanded by law. In Asia, it would be out of the goodness of Google.

I say, don't do it. We must not follow a terribly bad decision made by a foreign court just because Chiang thinks it's a good idea. One saving grace is that he is not planning to turn it into law.

If the search engine giant's motto is still "don't be evil", then it should continue to provide legitimate links to public documents and records.

Note that we are not talking about links to public records that are libellous, false or in violation of copyrights or intellectual property, but those that are perfectly legitimate and accurate.

They merely have to be considered "inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive", in the words of the EU court, in order to be struck out. But who makes that decision?

Well, I guess it's the fraudster, child molester, loan defaulter and anyone who has a history they would prefer not to be so readily available. I am sure plenty of dubious characters in Hong Kong and on the mainland would be happy to see those links deleted.

The Europeans have screwed up. Let's not follow their example.

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hakyan85
Where does that leave the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (cap 297)? Do we just ignore the law or tear it up because Google renders it meaningless. Where does that fit into the 'democratic process'? There must be a compromise.
(There are similar laws in other jurisdictions.)
ppm
The point is not to prevent the removal of information per se (this should remain possible where it is justified and legally accepted), but to prevent the removal of links to information which is - indeed - available on the net, in other words, the point is to fight unreasonable censorship.
hkhk
Fully agreed, Alex! This is merely a move by the powerful to limit their own bad press.
KwunTongBypass
How many hours per day do you sit in front of your computer Googling around for "information" you use in your work Mr. Lo?
.
Are you worried that for all those Google-Search-Cut-and-Paste-Parrot-Journalists their oohhsoooo "reliable source of information" yields less???
321manu
Google's motto is actually "do no evil".
"Who makes that decision"? Ultimately, the courts. Europeans can make requests to Google. If Google chooses not to honour any such request, the complainant has the option of taking it up in court.
Mr. Lo is again being disingenuous and imprecise with his criticism of the EU ruling. There is no stipulation that child molesters, or anyone convicted of criminal offenses, would have the right to have such offenses "forgotten". The index case in the EU ruling was concerning a civil matter. Mr. Lo knows this, since he wrote an opinion piece on this earlier. Very disappointing and a poor reflection on his ethics that he would knowingly conflate his criticisms in such a flagrant manner.
mrlcooper
What an absolute crock.
'Only criminals and perverts have anything to fear' - the mantra of the oppressor and snoop all over the world and all through history.
Another specious, slimy and immoral article from Lo.
 
 
 
 
 

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