Government & Legislation

The right to be forgotten

There is this myth that the internet does not forget. But studies show that the internet in fact does forget for various reasons. Websites are shut down, data is deleted, access blocked etc. In a general sense, though, it remains true that whatever you put out there, might stay there forever. What can be copied and pasted, probably will.

The recent decision by the European Court of Justice that search engines are required to rectify, erase or block access to results about individuals when these are incomplete, inaccurate, irrelevant or outdated, is therefore quite interesting. Labelled as a landmark decision it remains to be seen whether it is indeed a good thing. One problem being the criteria upon which individuals can ask for the results to be changed (when is a result ‘outdated’? When irrelevant? Note also that only the results will be changed. The source could still be active and might be found through other means or search engines.) The other problem is that criminals might now ask for their information to be erased. Which might be ok-ish for people with traffic convictions, minor offences, fraud etc (though they might not even request it0. But what about sexual offenders, rapists, child molesters? Hopefully there will be some test cases whether deleting their old information is still ‘relevant’ . It shouldnt be as easy as sending email to have that kind of information deleted forever.