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Top 10 Tech stories 2014: Backlash! Disrupting the disruptors

Marc Ferranti | Dec. 8, 2014
Blowing up entrenched business models and picking up the profits that spill onto the floor is a time-honored tradition in tech, these days known by the cliche of the moment, "disruption."

EU 'right to be forgotten' ruling challenges Google to edit history

The EU's Court of Justice's so-called right to be forgotten ruling in May means that Google and other search engine companies face the mountainous task of investigating and potentially deleting links to outdated or incorrect information about a person if a complaint is made. The ruling came in response to a complaint lodged by Spanish national insisting that Google delete links to a 1998 newspaper article that contained an announcement for a real-estate auction related to the recovery of social security debts owed by him. The complaint noted the issue had been resolved. But while EU data-privacy officials cheer, free-speech advocates say the ruling's language means that people can use it to whitewash their history, deleting even factually correct stories from search results. As of mid-November, Google had reviewed about 170,000 requests to delist search results that covered over 580,000 links. The headaches are just starting: Now the EU says the delinking must be applied to all international domains, not just sites within the region. 

Obama weighs in as FCC goes back to the drawing boards on net neutrality

In January, a U.S. appeals court struck down the FCC's 2011 regulations requiring Internet providers to treat all traffic equally. The court said the FCC did not have the authority to enact the rules, challenged in a lawsuit brought by Verizon. The ruling reignited the net neutrality debate, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposing new rules in April. President Obama in November made his strongest statement on net neutrality to date, urging the FCC to reclassify broadband as a regulated utility, imposing telephone-style regulations. Obama's move, which critics say is an unprecedented intrusion on an independent government agency, puts political pressure on Wheeler, who reportedly favors a less regulatory approach. The proposal from Wheeler earlier this year stopped short of reclassification, and allowed broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management. Public comments on Wheeler's proposal had hit nearly 4 million by September. The ball is now back in Wheeler's court, as he negotiates a resolution to the whole affair with his fellow commissioners.


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