Search Engines and Press Archives between Memory and Oblivion
34 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2019
Date Written: February 14, 2017
Search engines’ comprehensive digital memory has led to a desire for greater informational self-determination. The seminal judgment in Google Spain gave impetus to the development of data protection law as the preferred legal remedy for claimants who seek to erase their digital past. This article argues that the ‘right to be forgotten’ is a contourless and ill-conceived right, which can apply to a variety of markedly dissimilar cases, while paying insufficient regard to the fundamental rights of search engine users, website publishers and of the search engines themselves. Even though the decoupling of names from search results does not interfere with the original expression, it is intended to suppress this expression by drastically reducing its findability and hence its significance in the digital age. Search engines, with their intransparent modus operandi, are entrusted to unravel the Gordian knot between data protection and freedom of expression. But as the ‘right to be forgotten’ begins to cast its overly broad net over press archives, the Gordian knot risks tightening further.
Keywords: Data protection; privacy; freedom of expression; search engines; press archives; right to be forgotten; rehabilitation of offenders
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