Speaking of Forgetting: Analysis of Possible Non-EU Responses to the Right to Be Forgotten and Speech Exception

33 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2013 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017

See all articles by Meg Leta Jones

Meg Leta Jones

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology

Date Written: March 24, 2013


The right to be forgotten is contentious partly because it highlights the difference between U.S. and E.U. prioritization of information privacy and freedom of expression. Recently a moderate amount of research has been undertaken to explore the conceptual issues underlying the right to be forgotten and how the right conflicts with the U.S. first amendment, but little has been written about its impending implementation and interoperability issues. While this is an E.U. Data Protection Regulation proposing to grant rights only to E.U. citizens, the world has a stake in this right for a number of reasons. This article will analyze the options for non-E.U. countries and data controllers, namely the U.S., to react to the establishment of such a right. These options are: (1) adopt the same right to be forgotten for themselves, (2) ignore right to be forgotten claims, (3) comply with right to be forgotten take down requests, or (4) seek to establish a modified version of the right to be forgotten. In assessing these options, the article will first address the reality of a right to be forgotten under U.S. law. Second, it will discuss compliance and jurisdictional issues if the right is ignored. Third, the article will look at the impact of full acceptance of the take-down regime, focusing on the potential chilling effects and abuse. Finally, it will propose that non-E.U. countries encourage a right to be forgotten that is less disruptive: a right to erasure that allows data subjects to directly request removal of data held privately by data controllers and a right to oblivion for publicly available information that is enforced similarly to defamation claims, requiring a court order.

Keywords: privacy, right to be forgotten, international data protection, freedom of expression

Suggested Citation

Jones, Meg, Speaking of Forgetting: Analysis of Possible Non-EU Responses to the Right to Be Forgotten and Speech Exception (March 24, 2013). TPRC Conferences, TPRC 41: The 41st Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, Telecommunications Policy 38 (8), 800-811, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2238602 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2238602

Meg Jones (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology ( email )

3520 Prospect St NW
Suite 311
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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