Monday, June 30, 2014

Forget the Ruling... it Started with a Repossessed House

The Court of Justice of the European Union recently handed down a ruling that will force search engines to remove links containing personal data... if that data was published by third parties.

The ruling effectively forces Google and other search engines to remove certain results at the request of individuals, but not for corporations other other enterprises.

It started with a Spanish Newspaper Auction Notice
In 2010 a Spanish citizen lodged a complaint against a Spanish newspaper with the national Data Protection Agency and against Google Spain and Google Inc. The man complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy rights because the proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved for a number of years and hence the reference to these was entirely irrelevant. He requested, first, that the newspaper be required either to remove or alter the pages in question so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared; and second, that Google Spain or Google Inc. be required to remove the personal data relating to him, so that it no longer appeared in the search results.

The case was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Here is the ruling verbiage
"An internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties...Thus, if, following a search made on the basis of a person's name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results," said the Court.

The proposed Data Protection Regulation is about much more than the right to be forgotten. It is a fundamental modernization of Europe’s data protection rules, establishing a number of new rights for citizens of which the right to be forgotten is only one (data portability, data breach notifications for instance), creating a single market for data in the European Union and streamlining cooperation between the Member States’ regulators.

This ruling does not remove the link or webpage from the internet, it only requires Google, Yahoo, Ask and Bing to remove a particular link from their search results page (SERP). So a search result containing the link may live on secondary and tertiary search engines... forever.

Source: "Right to Be Forgotten" for complete pamphlet:
Photo: Thinkstock

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yahoo Attempts To Make Your Home Screen Smarter With New Aviate App

Let's be honest when it comes to social media and smartphones Yahoo isn't at the top of the list. I mean, when was the last time you heard someone say, "I don't know, let me Yahoo it really quick!" I rest my case. However, that hasn't stopped the website from trying to get a better foothold in the mobile industry. In recent news, Yahoo has announced the release of a personalization app for Android.

Known as Yahoo Aviate, the app is the byproduct of Yahoo's acquisition of Aviate earlier in the year. During the acquisition, Yahoo also acquired an app for personalizing the home screen on Android phones based entirely on what users are doing. The Aviate app has previously been in a closed beta, though the version that was just released is available around the globe in English with some new features.

The developers of the app have been focusing on organizing the apps of users based on a number of different signals. Walk by a gym and fitness apps might show up. Driving in your car listening to the radio could very well bring up apps like Spotify or other music apps. Yahoo's version of the app brings in new features that are designed to make the app more useful. Some of these features include weather changes and a way to connect to a conference call with the tap of a single icon.

CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer has been very vocal as of late on the company's efforts to offer more in terms of contextual search. According to Mayer, Aviate is a key element in that pursuit. However, Aviate exists in a very crowded market of apps that offer functions that act like a personal assistant, like EverythingMe and EasilyDo. The other big challenge is that predicting what people want can be very difficult and failing to do so accurately could be a very big annoyance for users.

In addition to that, apps like Aviate also compete, in some ways, with apps like Google Now. Google Now is Google's mobile tool for Apple's iOS operating system and Android. The app provides different information, like sports scores and news headlines based on data signals specific to that person.

If Yahoo is trying to get a foothold in the mobile and social media market then an app like this might not be the best idea. While the idea is interesting and has potential, the risks are large. If the app becomes an annoyance more than an assistance then users could get a sour taste in their mouths for future Yahoo apps. Only time will tell, however, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this thing plays out.