I-net and the ‘right to be forgotten’

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Monday, June 2, 2014

“Do not allow me to forget you.” --Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Of Love and Other Demons”

A SPANISH lawyer's wish is not that.

It's for others to forget a 16-year-old government notice saying the lawyer’s mortgaged house had been auctioned for non-payment. That scrap of information has hounded him in the I-net.


European Court of Justice ruled in the lawsuit against American search titan Google that it shall remove links that people "feel potentially embarrassing or damaging." Material deemed "inadequate, irrelevant" shall also be deleted.

Late-night show hosts have pounced on the "right-to-be-forgotten" ruling, mining its comic possibilities. But these disturbing issues must bug I-net users and "victims":

[] Can the "toxic miasma" that spreads on cyberspace really be removed? Google may severe links to offensive material but doesn't it still lie there where people can retrieve it? Strike down one website, others pop up. Can "right to be forgotten" be enforced?

[] Isn't the EU ruling ambiguous, leaving to Google discretion to identify what is "embarrassing or damaging"? And what content does it deem "inadequate or irrelevant"? Since Google opened a web site last week, more than 12,000 requests have been posted. What it can do still has to be seen.

[] How does the ruling affect I-net's "wild and free spirit" and curb its touted freedom of expression?


It really isn't just a matter of being forgotten, which, come to think of it, is for others to decide, not us. It's more of the right not to keep being slandered and bullied in the web even after we're gone. (paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 03, 2014.


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