The Fatal Conceit of the 'Right to be Forgotten'
Intelligence Squared hosted a lively debate last week over the so-called 'Right to be Forgotten' embraced by European courts'which, as tech executive Andrew McLaughlin aptly noted, would be more honestly described as a 'right to force others to forget.' A primary consequence of this 'right' thus far has been that citizens are entitled to demand that search engines like Google censor the results that are returned for a search on the person's name, provided those results are 'inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant.' In other words, if you're unhappy that an unflattering item'such as a news story'shows up as a prominent result for your name, you can declare it 'irrelevant' even if entirely truthful and ask Google to stop showing it as a result for such searches, with ultimate recourse to the courts if the company refuses. Within two months of the ruling establishing the 'right,' the company received more than 70,000 such requests.