Forgetting Bits and Pieces: An Exploration of the 'Right to Be Forgotten' as Implementation of 'Forgetting' in Online Memory Processes
TILT Law & Technology Working Paper No. 4/2013
16 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2013 Last revised: 27 Jul 2015
Date Written: December 2, 2013
Technology has changed and still is changing our internal and external memory processes. The World Wide Web (Web) can function as an external transactive memory and can store and provide access to personal information for a very long time. The "right to be forgotten or erasure" (R2BFE), article 17 of the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, aims at helping individuals to control the availability of online accessible personal information. This paper takes the term "forgetting" in the article's title seriously and reviews the manner in which the R2BFE implements "forgetting" into the transactive memory on the Web. Exploring the concept of forgetting in this context shows that there is a far broader scale of options to implement digital forgetting than is offered today by the R2BFE. The analysis shows where the R2BFE is insufficient and risks affecting other interests at stake more than is necessary by the application of too narrow a notion of forgetting. This paper suggests that the R2BFE could be transformed into a more successful implementation of "forgetting" in the online transactive memory if it were to draw more heavily on the mechanisms of human forgetting.
Keywords: Right to be forgotten, Internet, Privacy, Memory, Technology
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