Jul 25, 2014

Should the “right to be forgotten” be an actual right for all people worldwide?

The EU has forced Google to remove search results for people if they request it. I’m a fairly private person, so in some ways it appeals to me. However, this seems awfully close to censorship to me, and I’m not sure I like the idea of people being able to remove things they don’t like by force of law. What do other people think? Should the right to be forgotten be a basic right for all internet users, or is it a bridge too far?


I think that you leave an important factor - the truth of the link does not matter. What we have seen in the EU is that many of the people who want to be removed from search results are people who have done bad things in the past, often actual criminal behavior. I have a problem with people being able to hide their crimes from other people. Frankly, I think that’s part of the punishment if you commit a crime and are convicted of it - other people get to know. On the other hand, if you are accused of a crime and then exonerated, I can easily see a valid reason for wanted that not to show up in search results. 


I personally would have to think this through, and I don’t think enough thought was given to this policy by regulators before it was implemented. While I do think there are valid reasons for wanting to "be forgotten, an exception to the “right to be forgotten” should be carved out when someone is trying to conceal their past wrongdoing. Just imagine Bernie Madoff was out of jail and was offering you a “great” investment opportunity. You go search for him and it turns up nothing negative. Whose rights are being protected in that example? As it currently exists in the EU, the right to be forgotten can also be the right to deceive others about oneself. 

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