The Right To Be Forgotten: Questioning The Nature Of Online Privacy

The Right To Be Forgotten: Questioning The Nature Of Online Privacy

Privacy advocates are demanding their governments to implement an erase button on the Internet.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 2 may 2011

Mounting concerns over privacy on the Internet have activists challenging their governments for the right to manage their personas online. The movement is particularly strong in Europe, where last year, privacy advocates proposed legislation to the European Union titled “The Right To Be Forgotten.” If passed, the legislation would empower individuals to sue websites and delete just about any information about themselves online,  also granting people the right to opt in before companies could begin tracking their data in the first place.

Last week, Spain’s Data Protection Agency ordered Google to remove links to material related to about 90 people, including that to a desultory 1991 news story of a surgeon’s malpractice suit that he eventually won. In the U.S. a group called Common Sense Media is particularly concerned about what children are posting on the Internet, and a parent’s right to intervene.

However, there is also an important case to be made for disallowing individuals to mitigate their online profile. As written in the Technology Review hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Arguably, though, an “Internet Erase Button” or a “Right to Be Forgotten” might do as much harm as good. Forbes‘s Adam Thierer rightly points out that press freedom and the freedom of speech are widely under threat. Sometimes the right to information ought to outweigh the right to privacy. What incentive will there ever be for a journalist to rake muck if the information can simply be taken down upon request? “Every blogger could conceivably be asked at any time to delete any comment on any post ever written,” Thierer notes. “Who makes these calls?”

Still, it seems reasonable to suggest that there is a gray area for conversation to reach a middle ground.

Common Sense Media

Technology Review: “Guest Blog Will There Ever Be An “Internet Erase Button”?”

Image by Dave Makes


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