The Right to Be Forgotten: A Comparative Analysis
24 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2013 Last revised: 29 Mar 2013
Date Written: December 7, 2012
Before the Internet, people could make mistakes without the fear of being haunted by them in the future. Embarrassing information was usually contained in one’s community and typically forgotten over time. At the extreme, one could always move to a new neighborhood or find a new job in order to start fresh. In today’s Internet age, however, it is no longer easy to escape one’s past when personal information can go viral in a matter of minutes, search results retain old information, and more data gets stored in the cloud. This is particularly troubling for children who may not understand the long-term repercussions of a simple action like posting a photograph. Employers now regularly monitor employees’ and potential hires’ online reputations, so not only can a single photo result in extreme embarrassment, it can also affect them in the future as they attempt to enter the workforce
Europe has recently attempted to respond to this growing concern among its citizens by updating its current data privacy regulations to include the proposed “right to be forgotten.” As currently written, this right would face many First Amendment challenges if extended to the United States. Despite many critics' concerns over free speech, however, the “right to be forgotten” need not apply in a broad sweeping manner. Freedom of expression can be fairly balanced with individuals’ privacy concerns in order to implement a version of the “right to be forgotten” in certain situations within the United States.
Keywords: right to be forgotten, privacy
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