If you remember, more than one year ago, American companies were in shock when Europe’s highest court agreed to “the right to be forgotten”. It was always a two-edged debate that could turn into a vicious circle. Some people were very happy with the decision while other condemned it and demanded that it never be implemented.
The truth is that “the right to be forgotten” is an answer to a very serious danger nowadays: the internet knows who you are. It knows your name, nicknames, where you live or lived, your accounts, emails, phone numbers, credit card numbers, everything.
We are not “just some random guys on the internet.” If somebody ever wants to find us, they will. The notion of personal security and internet anonymity is a lie. Thus Europeans who thought that certain information about them could lead to misconceptions were given the right to simply ask Google that that information be removed.
If Google approved your request, the initial information would still be present on the site it was originally published on, but it would not show up as a result on certain engines.
The rule has been severely criticized ever since, being deemed as a rushed and vague decision. Yet its results are not exactly concerning, at least for the time being. Ever since May 2014, Google has only received around 1 million forget requests and removed around 400 thousand of them. The development is barely concerning.
Also, there were some British new organizations such as the BBC and The Telegraph who pointed the finger at the right for disabling hundreds of links to articles. Yet this can be an issue of both interest and concern. We do not know if these organizations are against the law because they lost Google viewers or because the articles actually pointed out real threats.
As mentioned before, the debate can turn into a vicious circle. While the “right to be forgotten” does raise some security issues concerning who did what and when, it also offers the benefit of erasing certain mistakes that were done unintentionally but can be used in any type of propaganda or to benefit from misdoings of others.
A Google report shows that approximately 99 percent of the removals had nothing to do with any national or security information. They were mostly cases in which people wanted their personal details removed, and there were no public figures involved.
While the debate is understandable and should be encouraged to go onward, we should just see “the right to be forgotten” for what it actually is: a means for people to delete embarrassing things about themselves.
Photo Credits intellectualpropertymagazine.com