Do You Have the “Right to be Forgotten”?


Thomas Claburn of Information Week recently opined, "The 'right to be forgotten,' recognized in Article 17 of the European Union's revision of its 1995 data protection rules, is at once admirable and asinine. Forgetfulness is often a prerequisite for forgiveness, and there are many instances when an individual or an organization deserves forgiveness. It wouldn't be particularly helpful if a search for 'IBM,' for example, returned as its top result a link to a website about the company's business with the Nazi regime. Forgetfulness is enshrined in judicial practices like the sealing of court records for juvenile offenders. It has real social value. European lawmakers are right to recognize this, but their attempt to force forgetfulness on Internet companies is horribly misguided. The right to be forgotten will cause real social harm, to say nothing of the economic and moral cost."


Claburn continues, "Google has felt the sting to this new right. On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that Google must delete "irrelevant" links from its search index because a Spanish man complained about two news articles that mentioned an old debt. The man sought the removal of the articles from the website of a Spanish newspaper and the removal of links in Google's index pointing to those articles. The Spanish data protection authority allowed the newspaper to keep its articles, because the stories reported facts, but decided that Google had to remove its links to the articles. Google appealed and lost."


He goes on, "Now, as feared, others unhappy with information on websites indexed by Google are demanding that Google to make that information harder to find. They claim the information is no longer relevant and outdated. According to the BBC, Google has received information removal demands from: an ex-politician seeking reelection who doesn't want people to read about his behavior while in office; a man convicted of possessing child abuse images who doesn't want people to read about his conviction; and a doctor who doesn't want people reading negative reviews of his practice."


Read more here, then let us know what you think: Should you have the right to be forgotten?


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