The Anglo-American/Continental Privacy Divide? How Civilian Personality Rights Can Help Reconceptualize the 'Right to Be Forgotten' Towards Greater Transnational Interoperability

94 Can. Bar Rev (2016) Forthcoming

26 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2016

See all articles by Karen Eltis

Karen Eltis

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; Affiliate- CITP Princeton

Date Written: June 1, 2016

Abstract

The European Court of Justice’s much maligned decision in Google. v Costeja González, appears to compel search engines, to remove links to certain impugned search results at the request of individual Europeans (and potentially by others beyond Europe’s borders). Further complicating an already thorny situation is the court’s failure to impart much-needed practical guidance in Costeja.

What is more, Costeja may inadvertantly and ironically have the effect of appointing (chiefly American) ‘data controllers’ as unwitting private censors; arbiters of the European public interest. Indeed, the decision may be deemed a culmination of the growing divergence between Anglo-American and Continental approaches to privacy significantly extending beyond the United States, to the United Kingdom.

It further reflects internal normative contraditions within the continental tradition and emphasizes the urgency of re-conceptualizing digital privacy in a more transystemically viable fashion in Europe and beyond.

In light of the above, informational privacy, the following posits, must ultimately be re-theorized in a manner that would presumably obviate - or at the very least palliate - the need for a stand-alone ill-defined and under-theorized “right to be forgotten”, as set out at pains in Costeja. It is in essence a procedural right predicated on the impracticable idea that individuals “own” data, rather than a right to their identity itself and the perception thereof. It therefore fails to accord with the long-established civilian tradition of personality rights, which, unlike its common law counterpart, emphasizes personhood not property. In the end, a more robust construction of privacy predicated on protecting identity would allow for a more nuanced balancing of privacy and freedom of expression.

Keywords: Right to be Forgotten; Comparative Law; Equustek

Suggested Citation

Eltis, Karen, The Anglo-American/Continental Privacy Divide? How Civilian Personality Rights Can Help Reconceptualize the 'Right to Be Forgotten' Towards Greater Transnational Interoperability (June 1, 2016). 94 Can. Bar Rev (2016) Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2856569

Karen Eltis (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law; Affiliate- CITP Princeton ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Dr
Ottawa
Canada

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