Europe’s top court says people have a right to be forgotten

People can ask Google to delete sensitive information from its Internet search results, Europe’s top court said on Tuesday.

The case underlines the battle between advocates of free expression and supporters of privacy rights, who say people should have the “right to be forgotten” meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the Internet.

The ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) came after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy.

The case is one of 180 similar cases in Spain whose complainants want Google to delete their personal information from the Web. The company says forcing it to remove such data amounts to censorship…

“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,” the judges said.

Americans don’t always comprehend the history in Europe that produces a greater concern over privacy than we often display. We’ve not had wars fought forth and back over our whole nation against invaders who brought fascist rule to a captive nation. We’ve not had wars across our whole nation lost to the powers of brutality that demanded subservience – since the Civil War – and the nation united won that one.

Fortunately, we live in a land confident that the two political parties will support our Constitutional rights through any confrontation with evil.


Thanks, Mike

Key West Antarctic glaciers already in runaway meltdown

Click to enlarge — Tongue of the Thwaites GlacierNASA/James Yungel

The collapse of glaciers along West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea would raise seas by 1.2 metres.

Several of Antarctica’s most vulnerable glaciers have already begun a runaway meltdown, two new studies suggest. The work provides some of the first detailed forecasts on how quickly glaciers are likely to disappear from a region that has long concerned scientists.

One modeling paper finds that ongoing losses at the Thwaites Glacier have permanently destabilized that ice river, which drains into West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea. The second study uses satellite radar observations to reveal that Thwaites and five neighbouring glaciers have nothing to hold them back from catastrophic collapse, leaving them more vulnerable than previously thought.

Were they all to melt, the six Amundsen Sea glaciers studied by Eric Rignot’s team contain enough water to raise global sea level by 1.2 metres. That process is likely to unfold slowly: at Thwaites alone, melting over the next century will probably cause sea levels to rise less than a quarter of a millimeter per year, or just 2.5 centimeters in total.

But that rate could speed up dramatically, to more than a millimeter per year, within two to nine centuries, says Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We are seeing the early stages of the collapse,” he says…

Thwaites is important because it flows from a broad, deep interior basin into the sea. Its vast storehouse of ice is big enough to contribute significantly to global sea level rise. The nearby Pine Island Glacier is retreating more quickly than Thwaites but drains only a very narrow trough.

The Joughin study “is a seminal paper,” says Andrew Shepherd, a cryosphere expert at the University of Leeds, UK. “It’s the first to really demonstrate what people have suspected, that Thwaites Glacier is a bigger threat to future sea level than Pine Island.”

Global sea levels are currently rising about 3 millimeters a year. Most of that comes from the thermal expansion of the warming oceans; some also comes from melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

“These systems, whether Greenland or Antarctica, are changing on faster time scales than we expected. We are kind of rediscovering that every day,” says Rignot.

It is the nature of scientific research to be conservative. Some may think discussions of events comprised of centuries instead of millennia still to be an exaggerated focus. Why talk about it if you ain’t about to live long enough to see it? That only demonstrates an absence of understanding of science and scientific goals. Everything in science tends to flow from the work that preceded whatever is current.

One important decision that needs to be made is allocation of funds and effort between the northern and southern hemispheres. The former tends to get the most attention because where the bulk of our species live. Sort of a silly reason; but, then, if we are anything it is irrational.

Thanks, Mike