Friday, 18 March 2011

Le droit à l'oubli: do we have a right to expunge our online traces?

In a recent blogpost by Peter Fleischer, Google's Global Privacy Counsel, he discusses the concept of  le Doit a l'Oubli - which translates into something like "The Right to Oblivion" or "The Right to be Forgotten".  This is a growing movement in Europe,  with roots in France, that posits a right for individuals to erase their internet tracks forever. In fact, the European Union is considering proposals to make the EU the first jurisdiction to establish the "right to be forgotten".
  Fleischer says that it's a well-intentioned attempt to give people the right to delete embarrassing stuff or start afresh; but making laws about it is much more complicated. While the notion might sound attractive on some level, the implications of erasing the historical record could have serious unintended consequences.  Fleischer points out that using "privacy" as a justification for censorship now crops up in several different, but related, debates and there are no easy answers.

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