Friday, October 10, 2014

Right To Be Forgotten

By David Simms, Senior Contributor
The Global Institute for Cyber Safety and Standards

In today’s digital world of cyberspace, hate comments, derogatory remarks, or embarrassing photographs that are posted can remain there indefinitely. This has presented a unique problem for those targeted because they have little to no recourse in having harmful content removed. In the not-too-distant-past when a rumour was told it may have made its way about the local circle but would eventually die out. In cyberspace  there is no refuge or reprieve as the same types of damaging personal information or fabrications of such, are ticker-taped around the world.  This has prompted something called the “right to be forgotten” which is becoming a practice in the European Union and Argentina. 

The right to be forgotten enables an individual to have certain data deleted from the internet so that it cannot be viewed or traced. It has been described as the right to remove from view, past events in life that are no longer occurring thereby preventing search engines from indexing them. So far this has helped many find solace from the online harassment experienced in their lives, but it is being challenged in countries such as the United States. The primary argument against “right to be forgotten” is the “right to free speech” which is a central ideology and constitutional right in America.  Interestingly though, current broad interpretations of free speech have nothing to do with its original context, which dealt with the rights of citisens to freely speak opinions against their government without the threat of harm or prejudice toward them for doing so.  The right to be forgotten seems to be a sensible and appropriate practice that should be implemented everywhere yet isn't at the expense of victims.