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.