Right to be forgotten – why do Americans want it?

A poll has found that more than half (61%) of Americans want a ‘right to be forgotten’ from search engines such as Google, just as the European Union prepared measures for people to appeal when Google refuses their requests to have pages with damaging or misleading information taken down.

A survey by Software Advice found that 39% of Americans want a European-style blanket measure to allow internet users to request search giants such as Google de-list pages.

The right to be forgotten measure has been controversial in Europe, with cases such as one where an artist requested an article praising his old work out of a desire to “highlight his new work,” being described as “censorship” by news outlets such as the The Guardian.

Right to be forgotten: Universal?

The ‘right to be forgotten’ measure passed into law in the European Union in May, Reuters reports. European authorities are currently working on measures to allow individuals to appeal when search engines such as Google refuse to take down pages.

Measures that will be taken into account include the public role of the person, whether the page to be removed involves a crime, and the age of the page.

“We want the toolbox to guide difficult decisions on how to balance the individual’s right to privacy in the Internet age against the public interest,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s privacy watchdog told the news agency in an interview.

Fire and forget?

Diginomica comments that the current state of affairs makes little sense.

The site says, “One of the main flaws of this hideous piece of judicial folly is the sheer futility of its remit. It only covers Europe and European citizens and all that’s needed to bypass it is to perform a web search via a US site i.e. anything that’s been erased from google.co.uk can still be seen on google.com.”

Forbes commented when the measure was passed that it seems to clash with U.S. law, in particular the First Amendment.

Others are more supportive of the measures, particularly those from privacy organizations.

Andy Kahl, senior director of transparency at Ghostery, said in a panel interview with Software Advice, “There is a positive aspect to this debate: It’s bringing the notion of data management into greater light. But we are entering an age where trading data about individuals is the status quo. It bothers me to think about all the time and energy we put into [trying to figure out] how to Band-Aid over that – as opposed to educating consumers about how to manage the way their data is being shared with gigantic corporations.”

Author , We Live Security

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