The “Right To Be Forgotten” Debate

While people in Hollywood and the world over are (sometimes quite literally) killing themselves for their 15 minutes of fame, some other people are fighting online search engines like google to leave them alone. The “right to be forgotten” as it is called is a new right that seeks to counteract Google’s invasion of privacy, a very real phenomenon that could be costing decent people their careers. But what exactly is this new right? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Read on and find out more about this information age conundrum.



What is the right to be forgotten?

When you do something wrong, and a news media outlet, or even just a personal blog writes about it, and tags it, then that article that shows you in a bad light comes up everytime someone writes in the necessary key words. Have you ever searched for something really specific and gotten an article from 2007, or 2004? Imagine if this article was about you, in a situation something that you would rather not think about, and would rather your clients, workmates, bosses, etc not know about. This is why the right to be forgotten has come into debate, as this can cripple a decent persons reputation, and possibly their career as well.

The right to be forgotten is basically a right that an individual can ask Google or any other search engine to set the default settings to the article or blog entry or whatever to “outdated” or “irrelevant” so that they can continue on with their lives after x amount of years. The material will still be there on the internet, but it will not show up on a search engine when searched for.  


What if this negative article or piece of information is not true, and is part of a smear campaign? What if the information in it is grossly misrepresented, blown out of proportion or taken out of context? For instance, in the case of a dentist, if the only article you get is one of a botched root canal treatment, one which the doctor was sued for and promptly paid for, you would not go to that doctor for a root canal treatment. What if that doctor practiced for 37 years before the botched root canal, and performed tens of thousands of root canal treatments before that one that had nothing wrong with them? Perhaps this doctor should be known for something other than the fact that they messed up one root canal treatment, but if that is the most popular article associated with this persons name, then that is the article that will be first, regardless of any mitigating factors.


What if the negative information is true, and is representative of the way a doctor handles him or herself? If every single act gets forgotten over time, phony doctors and lazy practitioners who endanger their patients will be given a get out of jail free card periodically to set up new practices where they can bamboozle the unsuspecting public.

Who is right and who is wrong? We will let you decide. Tell us in the comments section what you think, and whether or not this new right is a legitimate way to preserve one’s integrity, or if it is just a ploy that charlatans would employ to try and get out of the negative repercussions of their actions.

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