The highest court in Europe granted individuals an important right. In The Right to be Forgotten Europe declares individuals have the right to control the information that is available about themselves in online search engines. At its best, this ruling will become an acceptable practice, not only in the European Union but other countries, too. Now a future court ruling is giving us the possibility of allowing citizens of the United States of America to request Google to remove content so the public eye can no longer see it after 7 years. Kind of like a credit report removing your information after 7 years.
There are many reasons this ruling is beneficial to individuals. One example is a person’s reputation. There is virtually no information you cannot currently obtain about another person, even if it is outdated, inaccurate, or damaging to the person.
Information on bankruptcies and other credit issues, defamatory remarks, and foolish pictures or comments on social networking sites are some common examples. Whether someone is investigating a prospective employee, a prospective marriage partner, or simply a new acquaintance, search engines can provide all the information they want, whether it is accurate or not.
A second reason to approve of the Right to be Forgotten is personal safety. If you enter your name in a search engine, you may be worried about what you find. There are various websites that routinely list personal information, without the person’s knowledge or consent. When your name, birth date, current and former addresses, and even your telephone number are readily available to anyone and everyone, you are vulnerable to all sorts of crimes from stalking to identity theft.
Personal privacy is a third reason the Right to be Forgotten can be helpful. Perhaps you committed a criminal offense in the distant past, and it no longer reflects your life today. Perhaps you were a child star, but no longer want to be associated with your former celebrity status. Perhaps you had a marriage annulled, and do not want this information to show up in search engines.
These are some of the most important reasons to uphold the Right to be Forgotten. You do indeed have the right to privacy, and to not have your life laid open in search engines.
Some Do Not Agree With The Right To Be Forgotten
Some who disapprove of the Right to be Forgotten mention the 1st Amendment. 1st Amendment activists who fight against it seem to forget an important point. While they insist the right to tell and the right to know take precedence over an individual’s right to privacy, they do not seem to realize 1st Amendment rights are not absolute. The right to free speech, for example, does not include the right to commit slander, libel, or other forms of defamation.
There are others who claim the Right to be Forgotten amounts to censorship. They say this type of censorship should not exist because it did not exist in the past. What they refuse to acknowledge is the internet did not exist in the distant past either. It was not too many decades ago that there was no such thing as a search engine. The information provided in search engines today was not available. You could not learn about another person’s life history unless you asked, or hired a private detective. In today’s world, it is accessible to anyone who visits the internet.
There are others still who believe the Right to be Forgotten will be misused by individuals who truly have something to hide about themselves or their pasts. While this may sound logical, the fact remains that a search engine is not the appropriate place to learn about criminal histories and other destructive acts.
What About Reputation Management?
On one side, there are reputation management companies. Even when they provide good services, the companies are quite expensive. An average person or a small business owner may not be able to afford these services.
On the other side, attempting reputation management on your own can be a complicated process, and may not produce the results you want. You need to complete and submit a form through a search engine’s specific website. While there is no guarantee the offensive link will be removed from the search engine, the offensive content itself will remain online even if it no longer appears in the search engine.
The Right To Be Forgotten Should Be Your Right
Whether you do not want people to have easy access to your past, or whether you prefer to live a relatively invisible life today, these preferences are nothing more nor less than basic human dignity. Basic human dignity is a right that all average individuals deserve.
Your right to privacy is more important than someone else’s right to tell or to know. No one should have the ability to type your name into a search engine, and gain information about your entire life history. Individuals who have wrongdoing in mind should not have access to your personal contact information or your pages on social networking sites.
The Right to be Forgotten protects average individuals. Your past and present should not be visible to everyone simply because the internet exists. If you are not sure how this issue affects you, start by Googling your name. If you are like most average citizens, you will not be happy with what you find.
Your past is the past, and the present should be your personal business, too. You should not have to hire an expensive reputation management company to look out for your reputation and your personal information. Everyone should support the Right to be Forgotten in the United States of America and thanks to groups like Public Citizen who push so hard to have everything stay on the internet see their work backfire and thus showcases the need to remove information from the internet despite what they think is right as the EU has proven that their biased viewpoint is just wrong.