The Right to be Forgotten: Question Time

Next story

Mark James shares his thoughts about the European court of justice’s privacy ruling; specifically about the questions raised by Luciano Floridi, of Google’s advisory council, after their final meeting on the subject.

Everything in bold from this point on is directly taken from the Guardian article written by Luciano Floridi. Please refer to that article for the questions in full context. We covered the basics of the “Right to be Forgotten” back in this blog post.

How do we ensure that the right kind of personal information may be remembered (no removal of past information) without being constantly recalled (no unnecessary resurfacing of past information)?

It’s nearly impossible to do, who chooses what gets recalled? Who chooses them? Certainly no computer algorithm could do it, the only way is time based but there’s so much info readily available how can that be monitored?

How can we apply legislation that is based on geography to the network space of the internet?

It’s never going to happen, whilst we have some laws in some countries and no global governing body the data will just be hosted in a country that is not affected by that law, we also have many means available to hide our geographical location, let’s not even get started on “Tor”.

The “right to be forgotten” and the “right to information” are proxies for the right to privacy and for the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Both rights are subject to interpretation, and when they are in conflict, Europe and the US dissent on how to reconcile them. How can such a conflict be resolved?

Realistically they cannot, whilst we have different leaders looking at how “they” perceive what’s right and wrong, again the only way forward is a Global governing body that has the ultimate final decision ( likelihood = 0.1% ).

At what stage - if any - and how could publishers be involved when their legal contents may be de-linked?

No stage at all to be honest, it’s about as effective as a book author deciding he does not want his book in someone’s house once it’s gone to print, the decision should be simply is it going to be available on the internet in the first place.

When is information of “public interest”, exactly?

Anything and everything once published on the internet is open for public interest.

When does an individual have a public role that makes it inadmissible to de-link what kind of personal information about that individual?

We all have a right to privacy, but what we perceive as private may not be the same to others; ultimately we should decide what information is publically available to others.

What does it mean for personal information that was relevant once not to be relevant anymore? Can it become relevant again in the future?

Relevance is only a matter of perception, if you’re searching for it then its relevant right now./p>

Algorithms v humans. Should de-linking ever become automatic?


The ruling has forced search engines to act as gatekeepers. Is this the only solution and, if not, what better alternatives could be identified?

The search engine is issuer of the information and thus is the only place to effectively control it; we cannot do it at the endpoint as there are too many options available to circumvent those restrictions.