Right to Forget

First came ‘Right to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness’ followed by the ‘Right to bear arms’ and now ‘Right to be Forgotten’. The last time I remember someone making such a fuss about forgetting something was when I forgot to eat my lunch packed by my mom (And I am the one who was the kid here). Which makes all this ‘Right to be Forgotten’ fuss hard to ignore.

The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ first appeared in the 1995 Data Protection Directive and goes something like this:

“Individuals have the right – under certain conditions – to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. This applies where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of the data processing.”

What does this mean for people like you and me?

Say someone’s idea of a joke was to wrongly accuse you of something you did not do. This person even takes the trouble to put all this fake stuff online so that they can convince people of this crime. This right gives you the ability to ask companies like google to remove all traces of any such crime that you did not commit.

Another good example of why you might need this right, is this new Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel movie Sextape.

Easier said than done.

What can and can’t be forgotten will be decided by the company on a case by case basis. Not an easy task when you consider the fact that Google itself gets more than a million requests every month to remove links to copyright materials all over the web.

To comply with the requests, Google has already started taking steps which include putting together a panel of advisory board and this online form.

There are obviously caveats to this right and it is very much open to interpretation. You can read more about the nuances here.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this ruling is right now only valid for countries that are a part of the European Union (EU). Whether or not it should be implemented in the US, is already being hotly debated.

Which reminds me, I forgot to eat dinner! Did someone invent the Neuralyzer yet…


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