France Considers 'Right To Forget' Law, Apparently Not Realizing The Internet Never Forgets

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Hot on the heels of France considering laws to tax successful internet companies to try to prop up unsuccessful entertainment industry companies, comes a report that France is also considering a special “right to forget” law, which would allow anyone to ask that any information about them be deleted after a certain period of time. At first, I though that they meant content created by the person asking for it to be deleted (like emails), but it sounds like they mean any content about a person. So, say, if you did something embarrassing in college, and your friends put pictures of it online, once the time limit for the “right to forget” law kicked in, you could demand every version of that picture be taken offline. Yeah. Like that will work. Trying to suppress information online doesn’t work, no matter what law you put in place. I’m reminded of the convicted German murderer, who is demanding that information on his conviction be removed from Wikipedia under a similar type of law. All that did was call a lot more attention to the story.

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Comments on “France Considers 'Right To Forget' Law, Apparently Not Realizing The Internet Never Forgets”

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23 Comments
Andrew F (profile) says:

Forgive not Forget

If you’re looking for more reading material on this, Prof. Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger wrote a book about the “virtues of forgetting”.
http://www.amazon.com/Delete-Virtue-Forgetting-Digital-Age/dp/0691138613/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3W2S92JZ4C656&colid=3IOU5RED7X1MW

Personally, I think the issue is less about forgetting and more about forgiving. A lot of these right-to-forget advocates underestimate the ability of society to grow more tolerant of dumb-stuff-in-the-past.

In America, just compare Doug Ginsburg’s, whose nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 tanked over marijuana usage in the 70s, with Barack Obama, who did cocaine and marijuana and yet managed to become president.

As time goes on, almost everyone will have something on the Internet about themselves they wish wasn’t there. We’ll all learn to live with it, and that’s a good thing.

Adolf Hitler says:

Re: Forgive AND Forget

Dear France,

Thank you for this heartfelt and progressive proposal. I wholeheartedly support this effort, and when enacted, I would like to serve notice that I would like France to “forget” that nasty little occupation that we had back in 1940.

Hell, as long as we’re at it, let’s just “forget” the Holocaust, K?

Sincerely,

AH

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Re: Forgive not Forget

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Anonymous Coward says:

What are they smoking over there? They come across as six year olds playing with dolls making up their own rules in their fantastical worlds:

Babs: I have made dinner out of plastic, and it has ever been thus!

GI George: Yum! I shall declare the war against the Fisher-Price Peoples over and so it shall be, since I said so!

Transformative: I hereby decree that I shall be known from hereon as the Family Dog!

And if you’re part of someone *else’s* memories, you can’t really pass a LAW stating they HAVE to wipe you out of them…

Gad, they are so high…

a-dub (profile) says:

France is always so far ahead in the fashion world, and the same is also true when it comes to France and the internet. Normally, it would be silly to think that anyone could ask for something to be completely deleted off the internet, but this is totally different. It is painfully obvious that France is the first to reach the end of the internet, and in so doing, they have obtained the right to complete control of the internet.

Call me Al (profile) says:

This is frustrating. Everyone has embarrassing stories in their past and that is a good thing as it shows they are real people. The attempts by politicians to whitewash their past is terribly false and disconnects them completely from the people they are supposed to represent.

We need minor skeletons in the closet of people to force society to be a bit more relaxed and tolerant about the little things.

robphelan (profile) says:

to a certain extent, why wouldn’t the ability to request some embarrassing, or even very private, information about oneself be good(if not possible)?

I’m not talking about politicians/public figures doing cocaine, i’m talking about Joe-computer-user who sees that someone has listed all his current/previous addresses and phone numbers.

What if someone had posted pics/info of your KID?

Personally, i’d like to request my account info, including credit card info, be deleted from a handful of merchant sites – such as those involved with the “web loyalty” scam that surfaced – http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10399880-93.html

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not talking about politicians/public figures doing cocaine, i’m talking about Joe-computer-user who sees that someone has listed all his current/previous addresses and phone numbers.

Unlisted numbers? If they were in the phone book, what is the problem with this?

What if someone had posted pics/info of your KID?

If the law were only about minors, there probably wouldn’t be much controversy (but it still wouldn’t work). It sounds like this proposed law would apply to anyone, public or private, adult or child.

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