Right to be Forgotten

Not everyone is on board with being online. In Europe, there is a ‘right to be forgotten’ law. Millions, including criminals, want to be forgotten.

In May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled Google must remove websites that are ‘irrelevant’ or ‘inadequate’ from their search engine. Since then, over 281,000 people throughout the continent requested Google delete over a million websites. More than half of them have been removed. France leads the way. One fifth of the requests and removals seem to come from that nation. The British are the least likely to take advantage of this ruling. Less than 36,000 have requested web removals. The majority of folks want embarrassing things taken down. Remember those vacation photos posted on social media, or when you cursed someone out, or going on that naughty dating site? But there’s a potentially more sinister component to this. Criminals and sociopaths, such as serial killers, drug lords, sexual predators, and terrorists want their criminal past and activity removed, and are using this law to do so. A British newspaper called The Daily Mail received a request to remove articles about Joseph Fritzl, an Austrian convicted of raping, abusing, and holding her own daughter hostage for 24 years. The Daily Mail was told to get rid of another story, this one about Robert Castree, an infamous British child abductor from the 1970s.

So we have a dilemma. I somewhat agree with the ‘right to be forgotten’ law. If someone requests a bad online mistake be removed, that request should be honored. It shouldn’t be held against them forever. That is, if they’re a law abiding citizen. I don’t like the fact that even the press can be told what articles can and can’t be published because of this. I’m glad here in the US, Congress shall make no longer abridging freedom of the press. Let’s hope it stays that way in the US. Do you think convicted criminals have a right to be forgotten?

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