Should we be concerned about the right to be forgotten?

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Should we be concerned about the right to be forgotten?

Alex Helling's picture
Joined: 13 Sep 2011
Posts: 1128
Applause: 108

Earlier this month the Court of Justice of the European Union released a judgement in favour of the right to be forgotten – the idea that things we do on the internet should not always remain on the internet if the individual does not want them to remain there. Individuals therefore now have the right to demand that links to webpages be removed from search engines. And this is even before data protection legislation that the European parliament has been considering comes in – that would go a lot further and involve the deletion of the actual content, not just the links to the content on search engines.

Google has now complied with the ruling by setting up a web form for those who want links about them to be removed from the search engine to fill in. At the same time however it has voiced its concerns about even this limited right to be forgotten. Larry Page, one of Google's founders, has warned that this could be misused

Larry Page wrote:
It will be used by other governments that aren’t as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things. Other people are going to pile on, probably . . . for reasons most Europeans would find negative.
There is certainly a concern that if there is very wide use of this ruling, and later the law, then we will see chunks of the internet disappearing. Things that have been essentially of public record will no longer be available. The concern therefore is that there will be censorship of the past.

Page is concerned that it is a step too far towards privacy in Europe. The extra privacy regulations he claims wont hurt google due to its size but would have done so when it was at the stage of “three people in a garage” so it will hit startups who cant afford to spend time dealing with privacy issues rather than working on their core product. This however may be a concern too far. The ruling incorporates balance

Jef Ausloos wrote:
One should not conclude that any individual can now request search engines to delete links to webpages when their name is used as a search term... these provisions require a balance to be made between opposing rights and interests... the plaintiff will have to substantiate his/her request and upon receiving such a request, the search engine will have to make the necessary balance.
the ruling is therefore unlikely to inundate small companies, or even google with requests. The broader right to have content about you deleted if it is agreed however might. No need to be concerned... yet.

Debatabase debate: This House believes in the right to be forgotten http://freespeechdebate.idebate.org/debatabase/debates/free-speech-debate/house-believes-right-be-forgotten



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