Tuesday, November 09, 2010

EU proposes “right to be forgotten” online

We read:
"As a bunch of folks have sent in, there's a proposal making the rounds in the EU for a "right to be forgotten," which would require websites to delete all information about a person at their request. We've actually seen something like this in the past, in Germany, where last year we noted that a convicted German murderer, was using such a law to demand details of his conviction be removed from various websites. It's not difficult to recognize how problematic this concept can be. As Adam Thierer notes, a "right to be forgotten," is a clear restriction on free speech.

Now, some might claim that this is a point where free speech and privacy rights clash, but I'm not sure I actually agree with that. In fact, I'd argue that a "right to be forgotten" is not really a "privacy" right in the first place. A privacy right should only concern information that is actually private. What a "right to be forgotten" does is try to take information that is, by default, public information, and pretend that it's private. That's a very different situation, and one that clearly conflicts with free speech concepts.



Anonymous said...

I agree. In the United States, anything having to do with criminal convictions is public information. That type of information should remain public. However, in keeping with your comments on your post, I would also tend to agree that anything that's truly private information should remain private if an individual requests that. Any legislation regarding this issue would have to be taylored to meet these requirements. I can about imagine the debates that would follow as to what should be considered private and what shouldn't. Can of worms?

Anonymous said...

We have that today in the USA, under the guise of "credit reporting".

You can't "remember" that Joe Blow cheated you out of $200 more than seven years ago.

Anonymous said...

1:53AM post - that is not true. There is no law that says a private company MUST remove all credit information beyond 7 years - they CHOOSE to. They obviously feel that anything beyond 7 years is not too relevant to behavior today.

Additionally, will this law make it illegal for someone to post some accurate information about a person who has been 'forgotten'?

stinky said...

Airbrushing is a standard m.o. of the untrustworthy. Just ask Joe Steel.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who still believes there's such a thing as privacy is a complete fool. And in spite of what many would have you believe, the government knows less about you than almost any private entity. (bank, CC company, credit reporting agency, utility, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I was going to post something important about the subject of this thread but..................

Geez, I forgot what it was.

Anonymous said...

The main reason for these laws is to ensure that inaccurate information or information that's collected illicitly and harmful to individuals can be forced to be removed.

Like the hundreds if not thousands of vigilante "pedophile registries".
Most of the information on them is blatantly false, yet ends up ruining lives.
Essentially, if you want to ruin someone you submit some anonymous "tip" to a "pedohunter" and it ends up all over the net, with the result that the victim gets near constant harassment, may end up arrested on dubious charges of child abuse (which here mean an automatic entry in real sex offenders registries, registrations that are not currently removed if you're acquitted later).
Many of these victims lose their jobs, are forced to change their identity and move to other parts of the country or other countries entirely, and are still persecuted by the regular press and local authorities years later even though they're innocent.

That's the kind of stuff such laws are designed to help combat.