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There have been many complaints since the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled for the right to be forgotten. But some say that people missed one important legal point. They say that the ruling could force certain laws to be brought up to date. The other concerns are valid, but we need to see how this new viewpoint fits in.
‘Right to be Forgotten’ Fuels International Discussion
Some people argue that the European Court of Justice ruling on the right to be forgotten is very good for privacy. This line of thought began with the lawyer, Mario Costeja González, who began the fight for this right to be forgotten in 2009. This camp says that everything they have done or gone through in the past should not be available for the world to see. And they also argue that big Internet companies like Google shouldn’t have control over this type of information. So the “right to be forgotten” ruling is a gem for them. Google has already received an overwhelming number of requests to remove results from their index.
Another group warned, however, that allowing the right to be forgotten attacks the freedoms of information and expression. They say that allowing this right to be forgotten can hurt the Internet as we know it. The Internet will no longer be the free place where everyone can go to get information. The right to be forgotten leads to Internet censorship and fragmentation. All of the above are the common arguments that we see when we talk about governing and regulating the Internet.
But there is a third perspective that has not been thoroughly explored. This is the idea of the right to be forgotten as a way to push for needed change. There has never been a set of clearly defined laws that apply to the Internet. The right to be forgotten can be a catalyst for bringing certain laws up to date. The result would be a level of congruence that has thus far not been reached. Many are afraid to break the Internet, or to at least hurt it by throwing it off balance. The Internet rests on an unsteady foundation of freedom and equal rights for all. Many would rather keep it as it is, although flawed, than risk damaging it. This third group says that we need to make a move to improve it. We should not accept the way things are, the dark corners of the Internet, and work to make it better.
Bringing Internet Regulations Up to Date
Several academics see the the right to be forgotten as a change to update outdated laws. They do concede that the CJEU’s ruling poses problems. There is an imbalance created by the right to be forgotten, which favors privacy but ignores freedoms of information and expression. But though the right to be forgotten has forced us into this position, we can now use this chance to update other laws to bring everything back into balance. Until the right to be forgotten became an issue, the precarious position of the Internet was merely accepted.
One particular law that has bearing on this is the outdated EU Data Protection Directive. This 1995 law was penned based on 70’s era technologies. It did not anticipate the Google world nor is it capable of dealing with the way information is handled online today. So the right to be forgotten has given us the chance to take a good look at laws like these. We can now make the needed adjustments to have better laws that can apply to the current state of online data processing. This leads us to explore ideas about what we really want the Internet to be. Data protection is very important. But so is the right to know and the right to share what we know. We need better laws that can satisfy all camps.