‘Right to be Forgotten’ is Seductive and Complex

Recently there have been calls to create a kind of “eraser button” that would allow you to delete online content such as embarrassing photos, comments, or that ill-fated video of your participation in last year’s air guitar competition.  The concept has been dubbed as the “right to be forgotten.”  While there is no such thing in the U.S., the idea has caught on in Europe where regulators are considering ways to create a legally enforceable “right to be forgotten.”
Although the “right to be forgotten” is an easily grasped idea, it carries a multitude of complexities and considerations.  CDT President Leslie Harris writes about the complexities in her latest ABC News column:

The right to be forgotten is at once seductive and deceptive. Seductive because it plays to that visceral longing for a second chance that lingers in all of us; deceptive because, while the notion is easily grasped, a thoughtful discussion on the issue quickly becomes mired in a labyrinth of complications.

Harris goes on to outline three different scenarios in which the “right to be forgotten” could come into play:  for information a person places online him or herself; information you post to someone else’s online “space”; when a third party copies information from the two previous scenarios and posts it somewhere else.  
“Instead of trying to implement a broad ‘right to be forgotten’ that would trample the rights of other users, we would be better off working to create comprehensive privacy protections for users based on long-recognized principles such as transparency, data minimization, and individual access to data,” Harris writes.  
 

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