[re-search] right to be forgotten

René König kontakt at renekoenig.eu
Mon Jun 2 11:19:49 CEST 2014

"Google is already handling millions of deletion requests for copyright
violations every month, so even a couple of hundred insisting individuals
won't make much of a difference."

Looks like Mayer-Schönberger underestimated that as there were 12.000 delete
requests within the first 24 hours after Google put on the form. But ok, I
guess this is probably mainly due to the heavy media coverage on this topic
and it will rather decline in the future.

However, the broader question behind this "right to be forgotten" is quite
critical and I´m concerned that many people in Europe instinctively take
sides against Google without thinking too much about the implications. For
example, in the Spanish case that initiated the whole thing, the complainant
tried before to go against the publisher of the information he wanted to get
rid of. The court decided against that, anyway Google has to delete links
referring to this information. So, they are forced to take down information
that is actually legal. To me that sounds like opening the door to
censorship. More critical arguments were made in this interesting article
(in German, sorry):



-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: re-search [mailto:re-search-bounces at listcultures.org] Im Auftrag von
Geert Lovink
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 14. Mai 2014 13:36
An: re-search at listcultures.org
Betreff: Re: [re-search] right to be forgotten

> http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/13/omission-of-searc
> h-results-no-right-to-be-forgotten
> Millions of deletion requests are handled for copyright violations, so a
few insisting individuals won't make a difference
> 	• Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
> 	• The Guardian, Tuesday 13 May 2014 23.30 BST The decision by the 
> European court of justice that in some cases Google may have to omit
search results if an affected individual requests so, is alternatively
hailed as the dawn of an effective "right to be forgotten", or condemned as
the end of search engines or even the freedom of the press. Frankly it is
> In part this has to do with how the decision is phrased. For starters, the
court made clear that news media are exempt from such deletion requests;
Google is only on the hook because it argued it is not media (to avoid
having to comply with media regulation in Europe).
> The court also clarified that individuals cannot simply request links to
be deleted, and Google has to comply. Instead what's necessary is a careful
balancing, the court said, of all the rights involved, including the
public's right to have access to information. This limits the application to
rather a small number of cases, in which for instance the information to be
deleted is both damning and irrelevant. And it requires that individuals
vigorously pursue their complaint before data protection agencies and
courts, not shying away from cost and time.
> Such a deletion right has existed for 20 years, and very few of us have
used it. There is little reason to believe that will change. Moreover,
search engines don't have to redesign themselves to comply. Google is
already handling millions of deletion requests for copyright violations
every month, so even a couple of hundred insisting individuals won't make
much of a difference.
> This may be reassuring to the internet industry, but unfortunately it does
not solve the challenge of comprehensive digital remembering we face. All
through human history, forgetting has been easy for humans, and remembering
was hard.
> That helped us to accept that people evolve and change, and that the
person we were many years ago is not the person we are today.
> With digital memory, almost global access, and easy retrieval through
search engines such as Google, we essentially have undone forgetting. The
past has begun to follow us, and all of our misdeeds remain remembered. But
it is not just that we find ourselves in a straitjacket of the past that we
cannot shake. When we Google someone, we get a mosaic of information that
straddles decades of our existence, creating an image that is both
incomplete and strangely devoid of time.
> Without forgetting we also risk misjudgment. As psychologists remind us,
forgetting also is intimately linked to forgiving. If we can no longer
forget, we may turn into an unforgiving society.
> Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance and 
> regulation at the University of Oxford's Internet Institute and author 
> of Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age

re-search mailing list
re-search at listcultures.org

More information about the re-search mailing list