Will the right to be forgotten become a tool to dodge background checks?

Will the right to be forgotten become a tool to dodge background checks?

Joe Murphy – Compliance & Ethics Professional – December 2015

delete past

The EU, under the banner of privacy, has invented a concept called “the right to be forgotten.” The idea seems to be that people should be able to prevent past stories about their activities from showing up in web searches.

But we have already seen privacy laws intended for good purposes used in ways that raise questions. Privacy has been used to make it difficult for working people to report violations on company helplines (e.g., limiting or prohibiting anonymous reports), thus making it easier for bosses to retaliate. Of course, there are concerns when governments assert untested new powers. If government controls people’s conduct based on broad concepts like privacy, what are the limits? Of course, this right is not absolute.
But after the “right to be forgotten” emerged, Google tried to comply by limiting searches in EU-based servers. But privacy regulators in Europe pressed on, demanding they limit searches on any servers on Earth. This certainly raises some dif cult, perhaps frightening, questions. If they can limit computers, why not all other sources of information that is supposed to be “forgotten”? Can they also suppress individuals posting things on their Facebook pages? Will this new right stop with servers? Will similar controls eventually apply to newspapers and libraries? If Europe can do this, why not oppressive countries even more determined to control what their citizens can read and learn?

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