A European, not global, right to be forgotten


“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

“We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”

This week, Google took a stand that we all should support. It stood up against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws to restrict freedom on the internet. The specific case is the attempt by France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (C.N.I.L.) to require Google to delist links on all of its sites worldwide in order to comply with a right to be forgotten request it receives. Google  currently honours these requests by delisting the link on European Google sites. That makes sense. A European law is applied in Europe.

What the French court is trying to do is worrisome. Google is right to fight it.

At the same time, there is an irony in this situation. Google is taking a stand against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws. However, when you consider the terms and services we all agree to in order to use sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all the most popular social sites, you will probably be agreeing to terms and services established according to U.S. standards and governed by California law. In this way, we all are really agreeing to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws and values – not just on freedom of speech, but also things like copyright and privacy protections.

I applaud Google for standing up for freedom of expression on the Internet on this case. I just hope that my U.S. friends will also be sensitive to the fact that in some ways we all are asked to “become Americans” when we use the Internet. That’s not bad, as long as it always is balanced with a recognition that those of us who live in other countries may have different values that we hold equally dear – and that these values should be respected.

It’s a balancing act that requires that we look at situations carefully and not descend into thoughtless sloganeering.

In the case of right to be forgotten, I think Google has hit the right balance. Respect Europe’s laws in Europe. Now this issue is going before the courts in France. It won’t be decided quickly. It won’t go away. We should pay thoughtful attention.


If you are interested in this subject, here are some posts that I think provide useful context:

CNIL orders Google to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine

Google Europe Blog: Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

‘Right to be forgotten’: How Canada could adopt similar law for online privacy

Facebook questions use of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Consumer group asks FTC to adopt EU’s right to be forgotten

Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Connect 2 Canada Day Parties with Connect2Canada

Today is Canada’s 142nd. birthday. And if you’re in the United States and would like to celebrate with us, you can find Canada Day parties coast to coast, thanks to the Connect2Canada Website.

Connect2CanadaDayParties 090701

The social-media savvy folks at the Canadian Embassy in Washington have prepared a special Canada Day Across America page that includes lots of social content – a Google Maps mashup showing where over 188 Canada Day parties will be taking place in the U.S., videos created and posted by people telling you how they are celebrating Canada Day, and a Twitter feed for the hashtag #CanadaDayUSA.

So, if you’re in the U.S.A., why not join your neighbour to the north in celebrating our national birthday. Happy birthday to us!

More About Connect2Canada:

Connect2Canada: A peek behind the curtain

Connect2Canada: Creating a community with Canadians in the United States

Connect2Canada: a community for Canadian ExPats in the United States


Here’s an example of how to use social media effectively. The Canadian Embassy in Washington is using social media to reach out to and bring together the community of Canadians in the United States.

Under the banner of Connect2Canada, the Embassy has established a Website hub, a Twitter stream, a Facebook page, podcasts, a presence on YouTube, and, of course, a traditional mailing list. They also publish stories submitted by Canadians living in the United States. And they offer a comprehensive list of Canadian Expat groups and Canada-US groups along with a calendar of upcoming events relating to Canada in the United States.

c2cConnect2Canada has drawn in more than 43,000 people who have registered, subscribed, followed or friended Connect2Canada in it’s various social media manifestations. The Website alone receives more than 7,000 unique visitors and in excess of 16,000 page views per month. That’s pretty good for an initiative that has never been advertised or promoted in mainstream media. Connect2Canada has been promoted primarily online and at face to face events.

And Connect2Canada doesn’t just broadcast information. The Embassy staff responds to comments and questions on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, the stats on unique visitors and page views were drawn from DM responses to questions I put to Connect2Canada on Twitter.

Connect2Canada. A good case study of the effective use of social media by government.

Blogging brought the world together. Twitter is pushing us apart.

istock_000004986387xsmallWhen I first started blogging, I was struck by how quickly and easily I discovered bloggers around the world who shared my interests and from who I could learn. My community of interest spanned the globe, including people like Neville Hobson (in Amsterdam and later the U.K.), Darren Barefoot (at that time on a one year sojourn in Malta, now in Victoria B.C.), Allan Jenkins (Copenhagen), Katie Paine (New England), Josh Hallett (Florida), Shel Israel (California), the other Shel, Shel Holtz (California), Jeremiah Owyang, Lorelle VanFossen (Pacific northwest) and even and Lee Hopkins (Australia). Blogging had enabled me to form a community with others who shared my interests – a community that transcended time zones and geography.

Over the past two years, Twitter has taken up an increasing amount of my intention. Its 140 character micro bursts of ideas, links, emotions and idle musings bring me into instant contact with the people in my community. I drop in and out of the flow several times a day.

But at the same time that Twitter has given me the ability to connect constantly and quickly wiht the people in my community, it also has led to a shrinking of that community. Yes, it transcends geography. I regularly tweet to people in other countries and in Europe. But at the same time, it has restricted my community to people within a band of time when we are all on the network live. In other words, I’ve lost sight of that part of the world in which our business days don’t overlap.

In effect, my world through the lense of Twitter has shrunk to encompass only those people who are online at the same time as me. So, I’ve lost sight of those people whose workdays and online times don’t overlap with mine. They are invisible to me and I too am invisible to them.

So, Twitter is a good news / bad news story for social networking and its ability to expose us to different points of view and draw us closer together. In a way, Twitter has narrowed my horizons while making my experience with the smaller community richer.

Have you experienced this “invisibility effect”, losing track of people you previously experienced regularly? if so, what are you doing about it?

Katie Paine's Shankhassick Farm saved from foreclosure

Katie PaineLast week, word went round the blogosphere about Katie Paine’s efforts to save Shankhassick Farm from being auctioned off by the bank.

Well good news. Katie has just posted that Shankhassick has been saved:

As of 4:05pm today the taxes were paid and the bank was notified. I am SO grateful to everyone who helped. Thank you all. It’s been a humbling experience. Let no one ever think that Shankhassick Farm is just a piece of land and some houses. You all made it very clear that this farm is a very special place — a refuge, a source of inspiration and creativity and when that much good will and Karma comes at you, anything is possible — including raising over $125,000 in less than two weeks.

A real example of community and generosity.

Congratulations Katie.

Meet Shel Israel at a Third Tuesday Social Media dinner

Third TuesdayThis month’s Third Tuesday will be special. Shel Israel will be joining us for a Social Media dinner. We’ll mix and mingle and have lots of opportunity to meet Shel and talk to him about Naked Conversations and its impact as well as Shel’s current project, Global Neighbourhoods.

Shel IsraelThose of us who were at the first Third Tuesday last autumn remember that Shel was our launch speaker. Many people told us that they wanted more time to talk with him. Well, he’s coming back to Toronto and he’s suggested that we do a dinner format. Lots of great discussion. Lots of time for us all to meet and chat with Shel.

And Shel won’t be alone. He’ll be joined by some other top bloggers who will be in Toronto speaking at the ICE event. I’ll add names to the Third Tuesday site as people confirm in the next few days.

So, if you’re interested in a great evening of conversation about social media, sign up to attend Third Tuesday on the Third Wednesday, March 21.

From Naked Conversations to Global Neighborhoods

Naked Conversations Copy 1Shel Israel reminded us yesterday that Naked Conversations left the printers one year ago.

This caused me to pull my well-used copy off my book shelf and scan it again. Yes, social media has evolved rapidly in the past year. I’m sure that if the book were written today, Shel and Robert would give substantial treatment to podcasting and video blogging. (Heck, Robert’s now living la vida vlogging!) However, the book has held up remarkably well and I’m keeping it on my “must read first” list for clients and friends who want to be introduced to social media.

Now Shel is on to his next project, Global Neighborhoods (or Neighbourhoods for those of us in Canada and the U.K.). And to recognize this new project, he’s rebranded the Naked Conversations blog as the Global Neighborhoods blog and a new domain name.

Shel has already begun the process of asking readers of the blog for comments on the new book’s publisher’s overview and table of contents. If you haven’t taken a look at this, have a read and offer Shel your comments. Naked Conversations incorporated a great deal of reader-generated content and I’m sure that Shel will incorporate reader comments and suggestions into his new book.



If this is Friday… A week into Shel and Rick‘s excellent adventure, Shel Israel reflects on some of the thoughts the Global Neighbourhoods trip has generated so far.

A visual thought on Wal-Mart, Edelman and Blogging I think that Canuckflack Colin McKay had the definite take this week on the Wal-Marting Across America fiasco. If you don’t subscribe to Colin’s blog, you should. He has a unique, eclectic perspective.

How to get your blog indexed on Technorati  Kevin Marks offers some must have tips to ensure that Technorati can find and index your blog.


On the Road … Finally Shel Israel and Rick Segal’s Excellent Adventures begin! Shel will draw on his experiences and observations during this journey when writing Global Neighborhoods.

More Evidence that Media 2.0 may be less profitable than Media 1.0 Scott Karp touches a nerve with his analysis of the revenue potential for new consumer generated and social media websites. At the time of this post, he had drawn 19 strongly worded comments – both pro and con his position.
Traditional Media Still Gain Consumers Trust Debra Aho Williamson points to a study released by Lexis Nexis that “that during major national events, consumers turn first to TV, radio and print.” Not surprising. Traditional media continue to have water cooler effect for the really big events.

Edleman, Wal-Mart and WOMMA’s Code of Ethics Constantin Basturea offers a perspective on the application of marketers’ code of ethics to the Wal-Marting Across America flog (fake blog).

Shel came, Shel was seen, Shel conquered

Shel Israel, Author, Speaker, Nice Guy!Six events in three days. One very hoarse voice. One exceptionally generous man.

Shel Israel came to Canada this week. And we benefited from his insight, wisdom and advice regarding the potential of blogging and social media to bring about a major change in the way that organizations communicate both inside with employees and outside with the public.

During his time here, Shel met and spoke with over 100 Canadian communication and marketing decision-makers. And from the questions and the interested, engaged looks on people’s faces, I am sure that he had a significant impact. In the next six months, I believe that we will see more Canadian companies and organizations incorporate social media into their communications programs.

That will make us smarter, more effective communicators. That in turn will help Canadian companies to be more competitive and Canadian organizations to better serve their stakeholders.

And that’s exactly what we hoped that Shel’s trip to Canada would achieve.

Thank you Shel. You’ve made a difference. What better thing could be said about any of us?