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View Full Version : Is Europe ever going to leave American(Any) companies alone?


JonIrenicus
02-28-2010, 08:18 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/weekinreview/28liptak.html


We already had the issue where the European Union demanding and succeeding in getting microsoft to add a browser ballot so as to give competitors their equal chance at being selected (equality over all BS). Perfectly normal proper form to require a company to highlight its competitors products in its own product, even many liberals over here in the states thought that was a bit nuts.



And now this, a ruling from an Italian court stating Google had violated some privacy laws by allowing people to post videos on one of its sites...


Best summed up in the following passage:

The framework in Europe is of privacy as a human-dignity right, said Nicole Wong, a lawyer with the company. As enforced in the U.S., its a consumer-protection right.




The article goes into further analysis as to why there is a different perspective between many areas in Europe and the US, interesting as an explanation as to why their views are so backwards there.

Or is my view backwards? Which side has the upper hand, a tilt toward freedom of speech or some strange notion of a human right to privacy.

If you favor the latter, I guess you might have cheered the ruling calling for prison time for goggle execs.

Florian
03-01-2010, 04:32 AM
The article goes into further analysis as to why there is a different perspective between many areas in Europe and the US, interesting as an explanation as to why their views are so backwards there.

Or is my view backwards? Which side has the upper hand, a tilt toward freedom of speech or some strange notion of a human right to privacy.

If you favor the latter, I guess you might have cheered the ruling calling for prison time for goggle execs.

Instead of asking yourself whose views are more "backward" (not backwards, unless you think opinions are reversible) you might ask yourself why there is a difference in this area between Europe and the US.

There are certain restrictions on free "speech" in Europe that make the Italian ruling understandable. First of all, Europeans have a more limited definition of what constitutes "speech." I think it is perfectly legitimate to protect the privacy of individuals, even of public figures, against unwanted intrusions into their personal lives. Such invasions of privacy have nothing to do with speech, certainly nothing to do with "political speech," the protection of which was the express purpose of the First Amendment.

Europeans also have a more restricted view of what constitutes legitimate political speech. It is forbidden, for example, for neo-nazi or other hate groups to advocate their vile opinions on the internet.

But thanks for the article.

AemJeff
03-01-2010, 09:38 AM
Instead of asking yourself whose views are more "backward" (not backwards, unless you think opinions are reversible) you might ask yourself why there is a difference in this area between Europe and the US.

There are certain restrictions on free "speech" in Europe that make the Italian ruling understandable. First of all, Europeans have a more limited definition of what constitutes "speech." I think it is perfectly legitimate to protect the privacy of individuals, even of public figures, against unwanted intrusions into their personal lives. Such invasions of privacy have nothing to do with speech, certainly nothing to do with "political speech," the protection of which was the express purpose of the First Amendment.

Europeans also have a more restricted view of what constitutes legitimate political speech. It is forbidden, for example, for neo-nazi or other hate groups to advocate their vile opinions on the internet.

But thanks for the article.

To what extent, if any, do you believe that this ruling is an example of Berlusconi's interests distorting Italian jurisprudence?

Florian
03-01-2010, 01:31 PM
To what extent, if any, do you believe that this ruling is an example of Berlusconi's interests distorting Italian jurisprudence?

Non impossibile in a country like Italy. But in general Italian judges hate Berlusconi. They have been trying to prosecute him for years, but he always seems to slither away.

I don't know enough about this case to comment.

Lyle
03-01-2010, 02:03 PM
The case in Italy is ridiculous. Hopefully Google appeals and gets this retarded ruling overturned.

dieter
03-01-2010, 10:07 PM
The framework in Europe is of privacy as a human-dignity right, said Nicole Wong, a lawyer with the company. As enforced in the U.S., its a consumer-protection right.




The article goes into further analysis as to why there is a different perspective between many areas in Europe and the US, interesting as an explanation as to why their views are so backwards there.

Or is my view backwards? Which side has the upper hand, a tilt toward freedom of speech or some strange notion of a human right to privacy.

If you favor the latter, I guess you might have cheered the ruling calling for prison time for goggle execs.
Human dignity is a meaningless term. The dignity meme is recently being pushed by catholics, who all of a sudden claim that they have invented universalism and egalitarianism, even though they opposed both and accepted democracy only as late as 1948. If you look at catholic doctrines, like the catechism, you will find that "dignity" is identical with catholic morality for them. A man and a woman who engage in premarital sex for example are violating their own dignity.
The Austrian constitution says nothing about dignity and I am sure neither do countless other European constitutions.

What is relevant here is the right to your own image. There is no english wikipedia page on this and the french version (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit__l'image) claims that no such concept exists in the anglosphere. Basically, I can't take a picture of you and publish it without your permission, unless you are a public figure and there is a conceivable public interest in my doing so. (Or if you are part of a public crowd). This notion becomes increasingly unenforcible in the internet age of course.

The other issue is the question of who is responsible for web content. If you are running a website in Germany, Austria, Italy and no doubt other countries, you are basically considered to be a publisher, much like a newspaper and therefore share a greater amount of responsibility in how your website is used.

This is increasingly unenforcible too. We have seen a number of ludicrous rulings on internet issues in the past. Most of them have been repealed or not been repeated fortunately. The Italians would have to pretty much shut the entire Internet down if they choose to continue with this interpretation of the law.

The hate crimes stuff is a more recent phenomenon and so is the ludicrous ban on holocaust denial, which was started by French communists and has lead to an avalanche of ethnic and other groups demanding that their historical grievances be put under special protection.

Specific anti-NSDAP legislation was introduced post WWII of course.

Most European law is incremental rather than revolutionary in nature, so there are many specific, but mostly unenforced bans on insulting kings or blasphemy. The latter is recently being reactivated to protect Islam against criticism.

David Irving was charged with slandering the dead.

Much of this is a matter of interpretation. I believe that even the american first amendment was ignored during McCarthyism and other periods of american history.

Another odd quirk of the Austrian law that is becoming relevant right now, is that no member of the Habsburg family is allowed to run for office. A distant family member and member of the Austrian Green Party wants to run for president and is barred from doing so.

I don't believe that there is an overarching legal philosophy at work in continental Europe that applies to the Google issue. The "dignity" argument sounds like grasping at straws.

I remember attempts to ban Big Brother on the grounds that it was supposedly anti dignity. Recently flat rate prostitution was attacked on these grounds in Germany. The more specific "free choice of employment" trumps that in my opinion.

dieter
03-01-2010, 10:21 PM
We already had the issue where the European Union demanding and succeeding in getting microsoft to add a browser ballot so as to give competitors their equal chance at being selected (equality over all BS). Perfectly normal proper form to require a company to highlight its competitors products in its own product, even many liberals over here in the states thought that was a bit nuts.
That is not an equality issue, but rather based on German Ordoliberalism, which demands that the government take an active role against monopolization and price fixing in order to make markets work. I believe that this makes much more sense than the Schumpeterian view that monopolies don't matter.

The EU is fining European corporations and braking up cartels all the time, so they are not specifically picking on american companies. And besides, the suits against Microsoft are usually initiated by other american companies. (Netscape, Real, etc.)

The specific browser ballot mandate is ludicrous though. A better solution would have been to require Microsoft to licence the components of Windows to third parties which could then produce their own distributions of Windows, much like there are many Linux distributions out there.