Read, Learn and Grow

Venture Stream Blog

The right to be forgotten

July 8, 2014

What if you could erase yourself from the Internet? Does that strike you with imminent panic? Or is it a pleasing notion to be able to slip into the shadows or resume a life before the WWW?

Google, through European law, is enforcing the “Right to be forgotten” right. What does this mean? The rules are a bit hazy to say the least but this is what it’s aiming to do.

If any of the following applies to you where content on the Internet displays information that is:

  • Irrelevant
  • Out of date
  • Inaccurate
  • Or an invasion of privacy

You have the right by law to have it removed from search engines.

How does it work?

The article / webpage that you would like to disconnect yourself with would still exist but anyone searching for it would be unable to find you via said means. You would have to be present on the website in question and still discoverable if you are able to search within the website itself.

Sounds a bit complicated but the premise is that it’s giving you your privacy back. People will be unable to write slanderous untrue things about you and have them appear anytime someone decides to Google you. However, the words and images used would still exist.

Okay I’m in – but wait a tick, what about freedom of speech?

Well the speech still exists – it is just omitted from the search engine. This is where it get’s tricky, if for instance you omit something during an interview that later proves to be integral to your role would that be okay? No. Can anyone omit anything? No. If you have committed a crime that is still within the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act you wouldn’t be able to have this removed until you have served your time and then if you have committed any serious crimes you will never be granted the “Right to be forgotten”.

So, if you have been a victim of inaccurate information but you haven’t committed any crimes and want to be removed – then sure go ahead. If however, you’re in the public eye your likely to be refused. The case and point is Dougie McDonald, former Scottish referee, who was the center of a controversial football decision some three years ago. Mr McDonald has since retired and is out of the public eye; this however does not exempt him from the rules. Retired or not.

This list, loopholes and justification goes on. Now say an everyday person is subjected to some inaccurate information publishing but then rises to fame are they allowed to edit their past before their path to stardom or does the limelight come hand in hand with public transparency?

Who is making the powerful decisions?

In truth we don’t know, nor do we know their skill level. We have an idea of how many requests are sent but we don’t know how many are accepted or rejected. Is it a case of all are approved and few are rejected or vice versa? The information we do know however is that we are assured that the people conducting these monumental changes have “the right skills and the right supervision.” Still not convinced? We aren’t either.

If you feel like you have been a victim of inaccurate information posting online, pass through the relevant criteria, you’re not currently a celebrity and have full confidence in the system that is protecting your search engine rights – well then we’ll all be able to sleep at night.

However, if your not convinced let us know. Post your thoughts and concerns and continue the debate below or alternatively tweet us @VentureStreamUK.

Written by Adele

Adele is Venture Stream’s Creative Director and co-founder of ecommerce website

See more posts by