5. March 2013
Anyone, who publicly posts statements on the Internet that are intended for the general public cannot assert a right to be forgotten afterwards. However, should the Internet “learn” to forget, when the term “digital eraser” was chosen as non-word of the year several months ago? Even if a forced deletion of information would restrict communication, transparency, and the availability of information?
The question whether there is a right to be forgotten on the Internet will now soon be brought before the courts in the EU. The European Court of Justice will hear the case of a Spanish man who urges Google to erase his name from its search index. A controversial topic in which the Google’s position is clear: The search engine giant does not consider itself responsible for negative or inappropriate information from a person’s past and, therefore, won’t delete it from the Internet. Google sees itself as host of information, not controller or publisher.
If Google deletes certain links from its index on demand it would tantamount to censorship and violate the fundamental rights to freedom of information and expression. Opposers argue that the right to be forgotten is part of the right to privacy. And search engines do violate this right by making information available forever.
Who decides which information will have the right to be forgotten? Who decides where a line will be drawn for the purposes of general interest? Will then convicts and fraudsters be able to cleanse their digital vests? Wouldn’t it result in a huge mountain of red tape? What happens if a link, deleted by Google, is still available at Yasni or Bing? Can information about already deceased people be subsequently “sued” from the net by their relatives? Could the right to be forgotten be applied globally and, therefore, to countries such as China or North Korea?