The UK opinion of ‘the right to be forgotten’

An EU court ruling has taken a step towards giving people the “right to be forgotten”, forcing Google and other search engines to remove search results that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” held about an individual. We received a number of mixed reviews from our panel.

Although it seemed on the whole, the majority of our panel agreed with the right keeping things private, as so much of our lives are now available on the internet.

A number of the panel commented on how extremely sacred internet privacy is, that the ability is there to search anyone and discover a vast amount of information about them. A number of the panel feared the internet in that respect, as literally anyone can discover all about you from a single search.

51% are in favour for the ‘right to be forgotten’, as if something has happened in the past that is not true or relevant to today, and can only impact someone’s current life negatively, there should be the option to remove that information.

A great example of when the right to be forgotten could be most useful: Paris Brown, the UK’s first youth police and crime commissioner, had posted comments on her social networks when she was aged 14/16 that could have been interpreted as homophobic and racist. The right to be forgotten allows users to delete evidence of posts made as a teenager to the internet that could hinder future job opportunities. 

Although those opposed to ‘the right to be forgotten’ felt that having information widely available on everyone is best for the public interest; for example if someone has committed a serious of crimes, they could be a risk that you may not be aware of.

The right to be forgotten appears to be the final step of being forgiven for something in the past. However, some felt that such a right would be hard to enforce by Google and other search engines, as a number of people may want search results removed about them removed which may not be necessary. Where will Google draw the line with who to remove and who not to?