The right to be forgotten denotes the possibility of removing graphic or irrelevant negative information. At first glance, it seems practical, giving celebrities with exposed private images and former convicts the right to start over. But this issue is not as simple as one might think, for many complications follow it. There is even a concern that it may become a threat to free speech.
Two significant events, which contributed to that issue, need to be mentioned. In 2006, a young woman named Nikki Catsouras died in a graphic accident. Unfortunately, gruesome images of the accident later went viral and were frequently used for shock value. In 1998, a Spanish newspaper published a report about a lawyer’s property being auctioned to pay off his debts (Toobin). Twelve years later, he demanded the newspaper to remove his data and for Google to remove the links from the searches for his name.
In lieu of these and many other events, the European Court of Justice has given Google the right to let individuals in different countries remove irrelevant, inaccurate, or insensitive information. The consequences of that decision have begun to take effect recently, and people are starting to get concerned (Toobin). There are valid reasons for negative attitudes towards this decision regarding Google and its use of information.
The right to filter information may give certain individuals the right to spread misinformation or conceal any sort of evidence that could work against them, especially prior to elections. Some negative but globally important events may be hidden from the public because of Google’s right to remove unfavorable information (Toobin). With that being considered, some American politicians feel like this may be the start of free speech violations.
In conclusion, the European Court’s decision may have been triggered by good intentions, but the possible negative consequences are likely to outweigh said intentions. Criminals and unjust politicians may use that case to their advantage, thus concealing important events that may be globally concerning. This implies that American politicians and many individuals are rightfully alarmed by this event, and it needs to be reviewed urgently.
Toobin, Jeffrey. “The Solace of Oblivion”. The New Yorker, 2014.