The right to be forgotten : lost in space in time


Euro Security Experts Deem 'Right to be Forgotten' Impossible

by Justin Brookman December 4, 2012

Full version is here and worth reading:

ENISA comes to the same conclusion that we have: that a universal Right to be Forgotten is technically impossible on an open internet. It is simply not feasible to track down and erase all copies of factual information that had previously been made public. This is a welcome development, and hopefully will serve as a reality check against magical thinking that the Right to be Forgotten can easily be shoehorned onto the internet.


The Right to Erase

Instead of a broad and impractical power to erase all iterations of controversial information, we’ve proposed instead that the Right to be Forgotten be reformulated as a more limited Right to Erase — if you choose to host or store data with a particular service provider (such as a cloud email service or a social networking site) — then you should have the right to delete that data. However, if you’ve previously made the decision to share information publicly, you can’t reasonably expect the internet to go out and retrieve all that information for you. Nor should the Google and Facebooks of the world be responsible if someone uses their platforms to republish previously public information. Rather, if an individual has a legitimate gripe about another person violating their privacy rights on an intermediary’s platform, that other person should be held responsible, and not the platform that unconsciously hosted the information. Platforms do not have the organizational or moral capacity to legally adjudicate between one member’s privacy rights and another’s free expression rights. Moreover, putting that kind of content monitoring obligations on intermediaries will discourage them from providing open platforms for user speech and encourage risk-averse takedowns of any speech that might prove controversial.

However, while we’re sceptical of a broadly construed Right to be Forgotten, we strongly disagree with the notion that individuals don’t have reasonable privacy rights and expectations in the internet age. To the contrary, we strongly agree with the ENISA report’s stressing the principles of minimal disclosure and minimal duration of storage. CDT believes very strongly in technological tools to prevent the leakage of personal information to people and companies you’re not trying to communicate with, as well as legal rights to prevent secondary use and disclosure for marketing and other otherwise legitimate purposes you might not like. At the same time, privacy law cannot be construed to trample other individuals’ free expression rights that are guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, or a robust free press unfettered by government censorship. Government authority to eliminate factual information from the platforms of the internet would be a tremendous threat to those values.

Comment … some good thinking on the topic, it is a shame that this was obvious to everyone and has just wasted a lot of time and money