opinion news

‘Right to be forgotten’ violates free speech – analysis

eu-right-to-be-forgotten

Copyright ‘The Apparition’ movie 2012

The ‘Right to be forgotten’ EU ruling facilitates censorship, is open to abuse, and gives individuals a green light to erase their past, at the expense of free speech.

Not only that, but results are being removed by a firm that was founded outside the EU and doesn’t have lawmakers actually looking at the process being carried out. This means, Google Inc, an American company, founded by Americans, with American values has to figure out how to comply with such a law while the EU commission puts blame on them for misinterpreting the rulings. If news publishers had to do the same for results that appear in their internal search engines, it would be a disaster.

The privacy ruling allows people to request articles appearing in Google to be removed if they contain out-of-date information in set conditions, however it’s reported that there are over 1000 removal requests per day, and that implementing such removals is highly delicate.

With articles disappearing from top British newspapers, the backlash over the EU’s stringent ruling has already caused fury amongst news organizations.

If individuals are able to erase their past online, does that not inhibit the journalism that brings controversy and injustice into the spotlight?

The other problem with this law is that it doesn’t account for the effect the removal of content has on other people associated in those articles. Mr Smith might be able to remove 2 news articles from Google, but what about Mrs Smith, who’s in the same article, and has no idea her voice is being silenced?

Secondly, the fact that search results are being manually removed means that information in the press is being manipulated by a 3rd party without their knowledge until the removal has taken effect. What about the impact on search rankings for all the other content associated with those articles?

We don’t know if Google factors in SEO when it comes to removing articles, but surely this will have an impact on other results that have nothing to do with the requests.

Again, my point is, it’s ripe for abuse, and it allows the silencing of journalism by proxy, affecting other content outside of that ruling, censoring public information at the cost of millions to a tech company that has nothing to do with writing EU laws.

I really think the EU Commission needs to rework this law because it’s totally absurd to give people this right, when we don’t have the right to forget our passports, our date of birth or other vital information when choosing to be part of any industrialized society.

Let me put it another way. If the ‘Right to be forgotten’ was taken out of the digital world and put into reality, it would give people the right to erase memories of other people because they don’t like what is being thought about them. Sounds absurd? Well that’s what this law is doing, except it’s based on computer data, not human memory.

subscribe