Episode 8: Anne Bezancon on The Right to Be Forgotten
When two convicted killers got out of jail in Germany after having served their sentence, they did something that seems outlandish by American standards: they sued the Wikipedia Foundation to have their names removed from pages referring to the victim. While at first blush (at least to this American) this seems like a ridiculous demand, the principal behind it actually enjoys a fair amount of support, notably in Europe, where a proposed Right to Be Forgotten may soon become law. Anne Bezancon wrote an Op-Ed in Forbes that refers to this case, and this article first introduced me to this idea of The Right to Be Forgotten.
In a social media landscape that seems to be completely dominated by a “share everything” ethos, the idea that an individual could demand to have information about themselves effectively removed from the public internet seems impossibly naive. We’ve all had the experience of realizing that, on the web, you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube. And while we talked just a few weeks ago about this idea that society may be reaching the End of Forgetting, this Right to Be Forgotten seems to be gaining support by many.
Anne’s vantage point as a French citizen who has lived in the US for some twenty years, and who is the President of a digital location-based marketing company, makes this conversation a really interesting one that deals with aspects of digital privacy that are at once more fundamental and more nuanced than much of the current conversation in mainstream media. I hope you enjoy it, and leave your comments here or via Twitter to let us know what you think.
Some related links:
- The Right to Be Forgotten: Protecting Digital Privacy. This is Anne’s Op-Ed in Forbes from August of 2012.
- Jeffrey Rosen of the George Washington University has his own piece in the Stanford Law Review which is dramatic in its rejection of this idea.
- a New York Times article outlining the agreement Google reached with 38 states after admitting it violated people’s privacy with Street View.