China Gets Its First 'Right To Be Forgotten' Lawsuit

from the even-the-Great-Firewall-of-China-couldn't-keep-it-out dept

Techdirt has written a number of posts about the controversial “right to be forgotten” idea — strictly speaking, a right to be de-listed from search engine results. As Mike noted a couple of months ago, there is no doubt that this idea is starting to “infect” an increasing number of governments and legal systems around the world. The Fei Chang Dao site has a fascinating post about what appears to be China’s first “right to be forgotten” case. It includes a translation of the following background information provided by the court itself:

Recently the Haidian Court concluded a case involving a lawsuit filed by Plaintiff Ren against a certain Internet Services Company for infringement of the right of reputation, name, and general personality. On May 13, 2014, a European court issued a final judgment confirming that ordinary citizens have a “right to be forgotten” with respect to personal information, and following that the European Union has established the scope of a “right to be forgotten.” During the two year period following the European court’s recognition of the “right to be forgotten,” the Haidian Court has concluded proceedings in the first case involving the scope of judicial protection of the “right to be forgotten” for a citizen’s personal information. This case study has significant theoretical and practical value with respect to the issue of how China will conduct regulatory development and judicial practice to safeguard the “right to be forgotten” for personal information in the Internet age.

It’s fascinating to see a Chinese court pointing to these developments in Europe, even though it later goes on to emphasize:

China’s law as it exists today is unable to define a category of rights that is the so-called “right to be forgotten.” The “right to be forgotten” is only touched upon in foreign statutory and case law, which cannot serve as the legal basis for China’s protection of this kind of right.

If you’re interested in the details of the case, the Fei Chang Dao site has a good summary, with full translations of all the relevant information. Suffice it to say that the court rejected Mr Ren’s request to remove certain links, and gave the following explanation why:

the information at issue in this lawsuit regarding [the plaintiff] Ren Jiayu’s work history relates to very recent events, and he continues to work in the business administration education profession. This information happens to form a portion of his professional history, and his current individual professional credibility is both of directly relevant and of ongoing concern. Ren Jiayu hopes to make use of his own good reputation in the industry to attract customers and students going forward, but information about his personal qualification is important information that customers and students rely on in making a judgment.

That eminently sensible reasoning augurs well for the future, if and when China decides to join the burgeoning “right to be forgotten” club officially by bringing in new laws on the matter.

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Comments on “China Gets Its First 'Right To Be Forgotten' Lawsuit”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s funny that there would never be a “right to be forgotten” law passed in the United States because it would infringe on the constitutional rights regarding free speech.

Hard as they try, congress could never repeal the first or second amendment because they are powerful and important constitutional rights that protect every citizen in this country.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Just like how congress can never repeal the 4th and 5th amendments.

I’m sure the 1st amendment will continue to protect speech just as we are protected today by the 4th and 5th amendment.


1st amendment — have you heard of the DMCA (digital millennium censorship act?)
4th amendment — all your iPhones and hard drives are belong to us
5th amendment — if you don’t give us the password you can rot in prison

Techanon says:

That eminently sensible reasoning augurs well for the future, if and when China decides to join the burgeoning “right to be forgotten” club officially by bringing in new laws on the matter.

Why would they even feel the need to join that club? They already have a perfectly well greased and functioning censorship machine.

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