Lawyers are like children: solo, they're great, but as a group, they can shatter a strong man's will. I've got friends who are attorneys, and they're fine, but as a faceless lawmaking body, they make me want to drink rubbing alcohol. It is absolutely amazing to me that these guys can be so out of touch with technology at any level.
Journalists make a pitiful pittance -- just ask Pammy. Yet I, all by my lonesome, am infinitely more in touch with technology developments than 90 percent of lawyers out there.
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"But Cringely, you ignorant slut," you might say. "You spend all your time analyzing the geek world. These poor guys don't have that kind of time."
Really? Lawyers who bill $600 an hour and big, bloated law firms who charge four times that much -- these guys can't afford a research arm? It's fine for real estate lawyers or those speeding ticket fixers with dingy offices located next to police precincts. But what about the legal yahoos drafting pro/con technology legislation and making it stick?
If I as a journalist publish something erroneous (and I have -- please don't cite all the examples, I drink enough as it is), at least I can immediately print a retraction after my editor punishes me with an appropriate level of electroshock "therapy." Lawyers who get together in a group, snort some high-end flake in the bathroom, quickly peruse some Machiavellian prose to warm up, then head into court, though.... When those fools mess up, it can take years to correct their mistakes.
All of this comes into play with Europe's recent right-to-be-forgotten law. Sorry, European Court of Justice; I know you guys are supposedly educated and make reams more than us weenie news geeks do, but if this is the kind of asininity-infested drivel coming from all that privilege, you should be forced to donate your fortunes to a worthy cause and go live under a highway overpass. What are you thinking?
To get you up to speed: The European high court recently ruled that individuals have the right to ask search engines to remove links to what is deemed "outdated, false, or irrelevant" information about them. The wording in the actual bill is incredibly confusing, a fantastic example of brain draining legalese. Fortunately, there was an official press release that was promised to be much more direct. I checked that out and, yeah, they lied.
If I read it right (and if I didn't, please correct me in comments so I can, in turn, correct it next week -- Wow! What a concept!), this nut-bar ruling is based on a 2010 case where a hapless Spaniard filed a complaint in Spanish court against a site that had left information about it him online even though that information was wrong and long outdated. So he filed against the site (logical) and against Google for linking to it (totally illogical). In typically inscrutable lawyer logic, the court ruled that publishing the information was legal, so the site got off unscathed, but Google's linking to it was against the rules, so they were directed to remove any related search links. Apparently linking to "lawfully published" content is unlawful in Spain.