NY Senator Pulls Sponsorship From 'Right To Be Forgotten' Bill, Effectively Killing It

from the bad-idea,-meet-backlash dept

The Right to Be Forgotten™ (New York State Edition) is dead. The Media Law Resource Center reports the senator behind the bill (Tony Avella) has pretty much killed it by striking the enactment clause. This means Avella is no longer sponsoring this bill, leaving it to wander the halls of state congress like a child whose father "just stepped out to get some smokes" ten years ago.

It's up to some other senator to step up and attach their name (and reputation) to an incredibly stupid law. I doubt there's a line forming, not after the negative press it's received. The Assembly version lives on, however. Assemblyman David Weprin has a matching proposal, with the same broad language that would make it a civil violation (paired with government-levied penalties) for any site/service providing "inadequate," "irrelevant," or "excessive" information someone wants stricken from the face of the internet.

This is Weprin's second attempt to institute a New York State-only "right to be forgotten." His previous version is identical to this year's model, which shows bad ideas are just as subject to stagnation as the merely mediocre ones. The difference this year is lots of attention has been paid to Avella's version -- which appears to be nothing but a quick copy-paste job with a new sponsor. The Senate version is an outcast. The Assembly version has merely been ignored for more than year.

There's zero chance this will become law in 2017. But, if Weprin's anything to go by, there's always next year. Until its eventual reintroduction, here's Ken White's (Popehat) take on the bill, which will hopefully be passed along to New York legislators for their consideration:

This bill is a constitutional and policy disaster that shows no sign that the drafters made any attempt whatsoever to conform to the requirements of the constitution. It purports to punish both speakers and search engines for publishing—or indexing—truthful information protected by the First Amendment. There's no First Amendment exception for speech deemed "irrelevant" or "inadequate" or "excessive," and the rules for punishing "inaccurate" speech are already well-established and not followed by this bill. The bill is hopelessly vague, requiring speakers to guess at what some fact-finder will decide is "irrelevant" or "no longer material to current public debate," or how a fact-finder will balance (in defiance of the First Amendment) the harm of the speech and its relevance. The exceptions are haphazard and poorly defined, and the role of the New York Secretary of State in administering the law is unclear. This would be a bonanza for anyone who wanted to harass reporters, bloggers, search engines, and web sites to take down negative information, and would incentivize such harassment and inflict massive legal costs on anyone who wanted to stand up to a vexatious litigant.

Filed Under: david weprin, free speech, new york, right to be forgotten, tony avella

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  1. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 28 Mar 2017 @ 7:36am

    Re: Marc Randazza

    Eh, he's trying to be reasonable and fair to people in a situation that renders them vulnerable, e.g. convicted felons whose convictions are spent and should therefore be removed from public records. However, if the felony ended up in the press it is searchable and could conceivably cause problems for the ex-felon decades after he or she has seen the error or his or her ways and turned over a new leaf.

    I get that it's good to be able to make a fresh start with a clean slate. However, this is problematic for newspapers, etc., which would find themselves employing staff purely for the purpose of fielding requests to delete old news items that are publicly available. It's a nice idea but implementation would be costly because there would be so many requests flooding in, mostly by people wanting to whitewash their publicly available histories.

    In this blog post: http://on-t-internet.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/how-to-resurrect-your-reputation-five.html

    I've outlined how to deal with situations where your reputation is shot and you want to move on. I've been yelled at for it but I say again: your reputation is primarily influenced by your personal conduct and attitude. If people lie about you it makes other people check you out. What will they find on your own social media accounts, etc.? Make sure it matches the image you want people to have of you.

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