How newspapers are circumventing the the EU’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ law
July 18, 2014 | 12:25 pm
By Joanna Cabot
Techdirt has an interesting piece about how the EU’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ law—a law which requires search engine owners to remove articles at the request of people mentioned in them. The law is intended to help people ensure that potentially embarrassing things about them do not stay online forever, but it has been criticized as being potentially censoring, and for lacking an appeals process so that legitimate news reporting can stay online.
Some news sources are finding ways around this, and Techdirt’s story reports on a newspaper who is getting around the requests by simply reporting on them. This creates another article which summarizes the contents of the earlier one, and thereby keeps the information online (at least until the parties who requested the removal figure out what’s going on and file a new removal request). From the article:
“It sounds like the Bolton News will simply highlight each request as it comes in, defeating the requester’s attempt to bury bad news. Many other journalism outlets have taken the same stance in the last several days, turning the EU court’s ruling into one of the most self-defeating decisions ever rendered.”
What an interesting turn of events! I see what the intent was behind the original law—I know of of least one Usenet posting dating from the 80s which mentions my home address, because the internet was different then, people did not expect things to be online forever, and I was a teenager and knew even less than most people. But obviously, there were flaws in the implementation of this policy. I think there is a difference between removing a Usenet party invitation from the 80s, and removing genuine news stories reporting on legitimate events. I have no problems with this newspaper doing what they can to keep the public record of legitimate news online and highlighting the flaws in the system while they do it. Maybe it will prompt lawmakers to go back and plug the holes in their new law.