Who Is Censoring Whom? An Enquiry into the Right to Be Forgotten and Censorship

14 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2015

See all articles by Paulan Korenhof

Paulan Korenhof

Wageningen University & Research

Ludo Gorzeman


Date Written: July 15, 2015


The 'right to be forgotten' has been labelled as censorship and disastrous for the freedom of expression. In this paper, we will claim that effecting the right to be forgotten with regard to search results is a 'censorship' on the level of the retrieval of information. We will however also claim it is the least heavy yet most effective means to get an overall minimum amount of censorship, while additionally enabling people to evolve beyond their past opinions.

We will show that in applying something like a 'right to be forgotten,' it is not a question of just 'censoring' search engines, but that seen from a broader perspective we -- as society -- will inevitably have to choose between three types of 'censorship': (1) censorship of original sources, that is on the level of information storage; (2) censorship on the level in which information is encoded in the first place; or (3) censorship on the level of information retrieval. These three levels on which 'censorship' can take place are the three basic elements of the memory process; whether biological, electronic, or hybrid with the use of mnemonic technologies. Applying censorship as a means of 'forgetting' in the collective hybrid memory of the Web enables us to counter -- at least partially -- a possible suppressing functioning of the Web as a 'Panonticon over Time.'

Keywords: right to be forgotten, panopticon over time, tertiary memory

Suggested Citation

Korenhof, Paulan and Gorzeman, Ludo, Who Is Censoring Whom? An Enquiry into the Right to Be Forgotten and Censorship (July 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2685105 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2685105

Paulan Korenhof (Contact Author)

Wageningen University & Research ( email )


Ludo Gorzeman

Independent ( email )

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