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Should We Have a Right To Be Forgotten Online?

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  • All I can say is, good fucking luck with that!
    • by toastar (573882)
      IDK, The British are pretty good at it.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-10/u-k-lawmaker-says-rbs-s-goodwin-obtained-super-injunction-.html
      • by pla (258480)
        IDK, The British are pretty good at it. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-10/u-k-lawmaker-says-rbs-s-goodwin-obtained-super-injunction-.html [bloomberg.com]

        ...And, with that single link, you've not only gotten around the intent of this unicorn-farts-and-pixie-dust "superinjunction", but made an entirely new and previously uninterested group of people (consisting of at least me) aware of his status as an evil banker.

        So, while the British might grasp the idea of wielding the law as a maul, they still don't grasp th
        • by Shimbo (100005)

          ...And, with that single link, you've not only gotten around the intent of this unicorn-farts-and-pixie-dust "superinjunction".

          Untrue, in this case. The superinjunction has been in existence for a while and gone unreported. The reason why it's known about now is that parliamentary speech is protected by the Bill of Rights.

        • So, while the British might grasp the idea of wielding the law as a maul, they still don't grasp the full power of the Streisand effect.

          It's not the British of course. 99% Of British people would be horrified if they knew. Or at least, in the good old British way, they'd ridicule it.

          It's the rich and powerful. Right now Britain has a right wing government, that exists to serve the interests of the ultra-rich. Plenty of other countries have right wing governments that also serve the ultra-rich.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward says "yes"
    Thanks

    • by Galestar (1473827) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:25PM (#35483830)
      Exactly
      1. Stop using your real name, use aliases or post as AC.
      2. Use different aliases for each site.
      3. Use disposable email addresses for temporary logins
      4. Use anonkeys1 (etc) logins
      5. Use TOR for sites/comments you want truly anonymous. Also use TOR to access the email address you register with (if you EVER access that address from your own IP, you've compromised the account... throw it out)

      L2Protect your own rights if you care about them so much.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        How did you respond to the Slashpoll, the one just to the right.

      • That's fine as far as it goes. But what about when someone else posts something about you using your real name and/or a photo of you?

  • by Dishwasha (125561) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:07PM (#35483642)

    I just make sure that I am a very uninteresting person. You can also count on businesses going out of business and your data dying the obscurity death as well.

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:07PM (#35483644) Homepage Journal

    A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

    You have every right to remove what you've posted to your own servers - but once you post to someone else's server, you've relinquished control of that information, permanently.

    • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:13PM (#35483714) Journal

      A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

      That's only true for negative rights. And while I agree with you that positive "rights" are just a pleasant sounding cover for forcing people to act a certain way, a large swath of the population (especially in Europe) holds those rights as dearly as the traditional right to be left alone.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        Those are entitlements. I know some people use it as a dirty word, but its meaning is correct.

        • by donutz (195717)

          How about privileges, for a less dirty-sounding word? Rights granted by God, privileges granted by government.

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            Privileges can work, but can be granted by non government entities. Entitlement is still more correct.

          • Privileges can be revoked. They are not something you deserve, they are something granted to you that can be taken away essentially arbitrarily.

          • As there are no gods, the idea that rights are granted by one is obviously complete nonsense. Rights are granted by law, which is an action of a government.

            • by Nadaka (224565)

              Rights exist by virtue of your existence. It doesn't matter if you believe sky zombie Jesus made you from silly putty or you that are the result of some monkeys gettin it on.

              Rights are not GRANTED nor DENIED by law. Their expression can only be protected or restricted by law.

              • by lwsimon (724555)

                This is how Objectivist philosophy arrives at the concept of individual rights - the identity property. A = A. You exist, therefore your existence is correct.

              • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday March 14, 2011 @04:58PM (#35484920)

                Rights exist by virtue of your existence.

                I'm afraid that's not true. A rock exists but doesn't have any rights. A bacteria exists and has life, but doesn't have any rights. Same for a spider or a snake. Rights only start to exist when humans on mass decide to have sympathy. Cattle have the right to not suffer abuse, but not the right to life. Pets start to have a right to life too. And then a full range of rights only exists for mankind.

                Again, rights only exist because a substantial number of people agree that they should exist, and the mechanism by which that happens is law enacted by a (usually democratically elected) government. In dictatorships, there usually aren't so many rights.

                Rights are not down to existence any more then they are down to imaginary gods. They are a function of government, and vary from government jurisdiction to government jurisdiction.

    • by Suki I (1546431)

      A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

      You have every right to remove what you've posted to your own servers - but once you post to someone else's server, you've relinquished control of that information, permanently.

      How about information gathered about you that you don't want out there and did not post? Like residences, incomes, vehicle registrations and other.

      • by lwsimon (724555)

        Just because it's on the Internet doesn't make it special.

        What if someone out there knows your home address, and published it in a newpaper. Could you sue them or the paper for publishing it?

        Take the emotionally charged Internet topic out, and lay it simply -- should you be able to forcibly censor someone from stating a fact? I don't.

        • by Suki I (1546431)

          Just because it's on the Internet doesn't make it special.

          What if someone out there knows your home address, and published it in a newpaper. Could you sue them or the paper for publishing it?

          Take the emotionally charged Internet topic out, and lay it simply -- should you be able to forcibly censor someone from stating a fact? I don't.

          What about an unlisted phone number that was required for a property registration?

          • by lwsimon (724555)

            How was the information obtained? Did you give it to them without stipulation? Public. Did they uncover it by breaking the law, or publish it with the explicit, demonstrable intent of harming the individual? That's another story.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            If you do a WHOIS lookup on many personal .uk domains you'll see a name followed by "The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their address omitted from the WHOIS service."

            This seems a good solution to me, and should apply to many other databases we once considered "public" (readable in person at the relevant library/government office) but don't necessarily want indexed on the web.

            (IMO, the important difference is that paper databases might answer questions like "who owns 12 High Str

            • by Suki I (1546431)

              Would be nice if we could do that here in the USA with data the government demands, does not protect and exempts itself from any wrongdoing.

        • What if someone out there knows your home address, and published it in a newspaper. Could you sue them or the paper for publishing it?

          What if someone saw you leaving the office of an attorney who is well known for defending people accused of pedophilia? Can they set up a site named pedophile_lwsimon.org and publish all the time you spend at that attorney there?

          No, being on the internet doesn't make it special, but it makes it googleable. It's like everything you say becomes instantly available to anyone. Not just like anyone who sees you at random on the street, but anyone who might have some special interest about you. like someone who h

          • by lwsimon (724555)

            That domain makes an implicit accusation. Being published, I could sue for slander/libel.

            Merely publishing the fact that I was seen at the office, what the lawyer is known for, and the times of my visits would be no issue.

        • by Kvasio (127200)

          and published it in a newpaper. Could you sue them or the paper for publishing it?

          In my country - yes, you could.
          And people have right to their name until they are forecefully convicted, so until they are convicted - newspapers have to name the president e.g. Barack O., not Barack Obama.

          Seems that ex-communist legislation protects people better than land of free.

      • 30 years ago, people loved to be in the phone book. What is that if not a public record of residences and phone numbers? vehicle registrations (i believe) are also a public record. Many people even love to boast about how much money they make.

        I know there are reasons why we want privacy, aggressive advertising, paranoia about governments, psycho killers, etc. I wonder though if humans are inherently all that private. It seems like society didn't value privacy much until very very recently. It seems like a
        • by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday March 14, 2011 @04:40PM (#35484712)

          To echo what you say, regarding the phone book, the change in attitude came when cold-calling telesales became a problem. Before that I and most other people were happy for friends and other local people who had business with us to be able to look us up. The desire for anonymity of telephone number came for most people only when businesses started abusing the information.

          If we had governments that were truly there to serve the people, cold-caling telesales would be completely illegal. But we don't. Governement is there to serve the interests of business. With the efforts of the few honest, people serving politicians always being undermined by those that are paid by the rich businessmen.

    • A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

      You have every right to remove what you've posted to your own servers - but once you post to someone else's server, you've relinquished control of that information, permanently.

      This is exactly right, but let's not omit the corolary: If we want control over our information, we need to design systems where we're posting things to our own servers instead of someone else's.

      • Not really relevant. You post information via your server. Somebody copies it locally and redistributes it. Poof, it's out of your control. (This whole "information wants to be free thing" cuts both ways.)

        If you don't want it in the public-knowledge domain, don't publish it. Period.

        • I don't think you're getting it. You give all your data to Facebook, you say "only show this to my friends" but Facebook turns around and uses your data for evil, there is nothing you can do. You put all your data on your own server, you set it up to only allow your friends to access it, you're not trusting anybody other than your friends. Sure, your friends can copy it and repost it and whatever, but presumably you trust the friends you allow access to the sensitive stuff. Can you say the same thing about

    • by sjames (1099)

      Not really, no. If you borrow something from me, my property right requires that you return it when I ask.

      The problem here is that when you and I interact, we create a number of facts about that interaction. Untangling who owns what facts is a bit of a difficulty.

      • Not really, no. They have no obligation to take action to return the property, unless they agreed to that beforehand in a contract. However, they are obligated not to interfere with your action to take back your own property. Withholding the property from its rightful owner would be an act of theft.

        In any event, communicating information is in no way similar to a loan of property. Once you've transmitted information to someone else they "own" it just as much as you do—it becomes a part of them. At tha

        • by Teun (17872)
          That's where European privacy law comes in, your details are inalienable yours and when you recall them they'll have to obey.

          At the same time those having a copy of your info cannot use it beyond what it was originally intended for.

          Silly things like going bust and handing over the info to a third party can only happen under the original conditions.

          That's why international companies with databases holding personal info doing business in Europe have to sign Safe Harbor contracts.

        • by sjames (1099)

          They have no obligation to take action to return the property, unless they agreed to that beforehand in a contract.

          Borrowing the item in the first place creates the return requirement implicitly. The lender is not obliged to try to find it and bring it back, that's on the borrower. If you don't believe that, try borrowing someone's car and moving to the next state.

          In any event, communicating information is in no way similar to a loan of property. Once you've transmitted information to someone else they "own" it just as much as you do—it becomes a part of them. At that point you have no rightful control over how they use or further distribute it.

          Sounds about right to me. Who's going to inform the RIAA?

          More seriously, I agree that the right to be forgotten won't work because it intrinsically conflicts with other's equal rights to control their personal information. There is no definable nose/fist inter

          • Borrowing the item in the first place creates the return requirement implicitly. The lender is not obliged to try to find it and bring it back, that's on the borrower.

            That depends entirely on the contract. You obviously can't borrow something without the owner's permission, so there must be a contract in place granting you that permission; if, in that contract, the other party neglected to specify that you have to take action to return the property (or else forfeit your own alienable property in the form of penalties), that's their problem. In the absence of any specific contractual obligation to return the property it is up to the owner to recover it, and the borrower's

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

      Bollocks. I have the right to move down a public street (hence the phrase "right of way"). For me to exercise said right it may be necessary for someone to get their actual or metaphorical arse, unless they have a darn good excuse or they want to be prosecuted for obstruction.

    • I have a right for you to stop your car when you have put it in danger of running me over.
      I have a right for you to move out of the way if you are blocking access to a voting booth.
      I have a right for you to get off of my property if I haven't given you permission to be there.

      I wouldn't be so sure of that definition. Reality doesn't generally conform to absolutes.

      • by lwsimon (724555)

        Negative - you're simply inverting the questions. Rights may very well include restraints on the actions of others - they don't *require* that others act.

        Restated:
        You may not drive your car in a manner that puts others in immediate danger.
        You may not use physical force to control the actions of others.
        You may not trespass on the property of others.

        • Rights may very well include restraints on the actions of others - they don't *require* that others act.

          Mandatory restraint of action is in itself a required action. There is no difference.

    • by a whoabot (706122)

      "A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another."

      I assume you're talking about moral rights. I assume you're not talking about legal rights, as those are dependent on the legal system involved, and so could require anything on the part of anyone, depending on how they are defined in legislation. In my country the proper authorities have the legal right to require me to join the military in certain circumstances, and that is plain fact, so you can't be talking about legal rights. Y

      • by lwsimon (724555)

        I actually have a quite firm basis for my post, and you are correct in the distinction between legal and moral rights.

        In both of your examples, you are correct - it is immoral to compel the individual. Both of these cases represent a value proposition that the actor must accept of his own free will. In practice, I seriously doubt that anyone would not disclose the location of a child - it is not in the interests of the person to keep that information to themselves. What do they stand to gain?

        In your secon

    • by Kvasio (127200)

      A right, by definition, does not require action on the part of another.

      Quotation needed / Is it some sort of "common law" brilliant idea?

      Does "claim right" sound familiar to you? Right to healthcare? Right to an attorney? These require action on the part of another.
      Also right of property embraces requiring from others not to infringe your rights to your property/

      but once you post to someone else's server, you've relinquished control of that information, permanently

      In Europe thought are closer to the concept that the data concerning my person is owned by me, I can put it on your database but if you misconduct or I change my mind, I can revoke your rights to process it.

      I guess you

  • by supersloshy (1273442) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:08PM (#35483658)

    As nice this may or may not be for some people, I'm pretty sure that it's next-to-impossible to be "forgotten" online unless you never posted or shared any content anywhere (or never even went online). Data doesn't have a collective "off switch" that you can just flip to delete everything everywhere relating to a certain person. Computers don't work like that at all (and while it's technically possible, have fun forcing every other person in the world to comply with it).

    • As nice this may or may not be for some people, I'm pretty sure that it's next-to-impossible to be "forgotten" online unless you never posted or shared any content anywhere (or never even went online). Data doesn't have a collective "off switch" that you can just flip to delete everything everywhere relating to a certain person. Computers don't work like that at all (and while it's technically possible, have fun forcing every other person in the world to comply with it).

      People seem to have missed that you wouldn't be forgotten even if computers didn't exist. If you act like a dumbass people will remember, regardless of there being an electronic record. The only difference is it's easier to verify to third parties.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:09PM (#35483666)
    In a way, the internet is a lot like real life. If you do or say something really stupid, chances are nobody will ever let you live it down anyway.
    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:14PM (#35483728)

      But, unlike real life there isn't likely going to be a documented transcript of your comments that can be easily copied, forwarded, and referenced by millions with a few mouse clicks.

      • Bah, "real life" politicians, actors, athletes and other celebrities have been having their comments taken out of context, printed and distributed across the world for years. Even an unlucky joe shmoe could have the same done, if they happen to say the wrong thing and just the wrong time (with the wrong reporter around). The internet just makes public stupidity egalitarian.

        • Well said. If we as average people think that celebrities shouldn't have the right to erase the online history of their exploits, then we as average people shouldn't have that right either.

          If the thing that is said about one is false, then libel law exists to deal with that. If it's true, then learn to live with it.

      • by gknoy (899301)

        All the more reason to not be a jerk to strangers (or non-strangers).

    • If you do or say something really stupid, chances are nobody will ever let you live it down anyway.

      Notable exceptions include politicians, corporations, and especially political figures on corporate cable.

      "Oliver North from Fox news is a felon and was illegally and secretly getting arms to Iran? That can't be right, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be on teevee unless he was a war hero/saint."

    • by Kjella (173770)

      In a way, the internet is a lot like real life. If you do or say something really stupid, chances are nobody will ever let you live it down anyway.

      In a limited fashion yes, but the degree matters. A lot of kids went waving a stick pretending to be a Jedi, but before the Internet there'd be no Star Wars Kid. Perhaps some would still have taped it, maybe shared around the school but it probably would have died down fairly quickly. Instead you have the Internet which is like pouring gasoline on a spark, spreading uncontrollably.

      Internet is not just a place where stuff gets spread around, it gets connected. Head on over to /b/ and look for one of the thre

    • Yes and we already have a lot of real world laws that are perfectly applicable in case of abuse:
      - someone reposts an unflattering picture of you : copyright
      - someone libels you : "right to respond" and libel law
      - in the EU if you make a request a website (or another company) is obliged to send you the personal information they have on you and allow you to modify it as you wish.

      The only thing I see that might be problematic is maybe when you make a statement online which later you no longer support, say for

    • by jd (1658)

      True, but that's stupid. People with great minds often say very stupid things - even Einstein appears on the Fortune Cookie program. You absolutely do not want to have the best brains crippled by socially-maladjusted bullies and gangster-wannabes, and the Internet makes for faceless victims with few (if any) rights. There is no solution to this out there, and nobody is within a decade or three of developing one. Therefore, there needs to be some intermediate solution that's not perfect, causes the least dis

    • In a way, the internet is a lot like real life. If you do or say something really stupid, chances are nobody will ever let you live it down anyway.

      The internet allows you to be stupid and observed being so at the speed of light, around the world.

      This ain't yer grandaddy's world.

    • In a way, the internet is real life.

      There, fixed it for you.

      In 1995, a distinction between the Internet and "real life" might have made sense. Today, it's everywhere. Something like 20% of all romantic relationships begin online. You can get online at **McDonald's**.

      People need to realize that pretending to be someone else online is about as realistic as driving to a neighboring county and using a fake identity unless they're really good and dedicated.

  • Other rights first (Score:4, Insightful)

    by freakingme (1244996) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:10PM (#35483682)
    I'd rather have some other rights first, like a freedom of speech without having domains seized etc, and a right to actually have an internet connection (France is taking away your connection after allegedly downloading something, and so will the US - it seems)...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:10PM (#35483684)

    I want all of the things I've posted as Anonymous Coward for the past five years erased. All of these comments are "owned by the person who posted them," and I posted all of them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't do it! He hacked my account but I can't work out how to reset the password.

  • by Mr. McGibby (41471)

    Just like you can't make people forget all those things you said you'd wished you didn't, you can't do the same thing on the internet. You can try all you want and even make laws about it, but it won't work. Information is hard to control.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 14, 2011 @03:22PM (#35483792)

    Both articles are all over the place. Are we talking about blog posts? Or, are we talking about scrubbing search engines? Yes, I should be able to delete a comment I make from any blog or forum (hello Slashdot?). Sometimes you say something incorrect, something you regret, or simply a comment you've changed your mind about. I've had quite a few errant posts on different blogs and a handful I've wanted to take back. It makes life much easier if I can blow away my wrong information and the gazillion people jumping up to correct you rather than wasting readers' time going over garbage.

    Now, scrubbing the historical record? Good luck with that, Nixon!

  • I would say that the closest existing principle that exists today is that information collected on individuals by Britain is subject to the 100 year rule - other countries may vary in the time they keep the information sealed. Such information is preserved but it is not available to do harm (in theory) within the probable lifetime of the individual.

    I would argue that personal data held by corporations should be subject to a similar rule - it cannot be exposed to a broader audience inside a similar timeframe

  • I don't know about an unrestricted right to remove any information pertaining to yourself, but I do think we should have online protection over details that should be personal, like phone numbers and home addresses. I'll give you the following example to illustrate this point. Several years ago I created an LLC. When I created it the form I used said that I needed to use a real street address instead of a P.O. Box. I should have put down a mail drop but decided to use my home address, thinking that if someo

  • Nothing to see here.

    Move along.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't get it.. why are these sheeple putting their real info all over the net? We hear it all the time, such and such gets fired because of facebook, or whatever..

    Someone needs to teach people how to be an internet user me thinks!

    Doesn't matter what they try to legislate, it's too late now. countless archives everywhere are full of your info.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I don't get it.. why are these sheeple putting their real info all over the net? We hear it all the time, such and such gets fired because of facebook, or whatever..

      Someone needs to teach people how to be an internet user me thinks!

      Doesn't matter what they try to legislate, it's too late now. countless archives everywhere are full of your info.

      Insecure.

      The more people need to pump their ego the more they try to find interesting bits to post on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogspot, etc.

      I'm well adjusted and can prove it.

      I can post anonymously any time I choose. ;)

  • What's "historical record" worth if there are still people that say, despite all the evidence, that the earth is only 6000 years old :)

  • Among all the other bad things about such a proposal, there's the problem that it would require a mechanism as powerful as the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's _1984_ to pull it off.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Among all the other bad things about such a proposal, there's the problem that it would require a mechanism as powerful as the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's _1984_ to pull it off.

      You can remove your mark, but it's a big SQL sentence.

      The worry is who holds the right to commit and whether they preserve rollback.

  • I will always remember you. I will make a time capsule and put your data in. Even people of the future will see your posts. Make your time.

  • I'd correct one thing. Fleischer describes privacy regulations as "censorship". I doubt that he would call intellectual property laws "censorship", but one isn't more "censoring" than the other--they both prevent you from transmitting or storing information.

    In general, I'd like to see one standard for corporate databases of private information, and another, weaker, standard for individuals publishing information. Where those activities intersect (me publishing my information on a corporate service),

    • by Teun (17872)
      Hehe, The Big Studio's would like a whole lot of things removed from the net and even with their expensive law firms it doesn't happen.
  • Which defeats the purpose.....its a conundrum.... what came first, an actual person with no rights, or an hypothetical person's actual rights?
  • Once you reach a certain age, the things you do, the decisions you make, the things you say... they all matter. Of course, prior to the internet, all of that mattered a whole lot less. You could do something of colossal stupidity, have newspaper, radio, and TV coverage of the event, and even have people write books about you, and a couple years later, the public at large would barely remember. Now, get your name mentioned anywhere and it will always be one google search away. So, knowing this, behave in

    • So basically you're saying that I should never do anything which might be taken as a negative mark against me. Even in ten years time, completely out of context?

      I think that the idea of enforcing a 'memory' on the internet is impractical and counter to the best bits of the internet, but to do what you suggest you'd basically need to cease all interaction with people. Remember that other people can post stuff about you, even if you've never touched a computer.

      I think the world is going to change the way it l

  • by sstamps (39313)

    "unknowing" information can never be a right. It goes counter to the entire flow of knowledge.

    If you don't want to be known online, then don't put anything about yourself online. Period.

    Asking for the global mind to "un-know" you is ridiculous and rather impossible.

  • I had the luxury of making those stupid newbie posts on the Plato system starting in 1979. (Though, there are some archives somewhere, I think.)

    Now, I just have to worry about all the stupid posts I made on Usenet when I should have known better.

    And even worse, all the pointless flamewars I got into here on Slashdot.

  • You'll be forgotten. And not just "on-line".

  • Do you have the right to be forgotten by people you meet and interact with? No, you don't have any right to edit their memories or control what they write about you, aside from slander and libel restrictions. And even then I'd argue you don't have a right to prevent them from saying or publishing anything they please, only a right to collect damages from it.

    So why should you have a right to be forgotten by our prosthetic memories, aka computers? If you cannot control what is written about you in newspapers,

  • Can I get a law giving me the right to be remembered online? Forever? How about a law that requires everyone to notice me online? That could be handy.

  • Sorry but if you don't want to be remembered online then don't post anything. If we make it acceptable to be forgotten then surely that applies to companies too and they can remove anything whenever they feel like it and that would be awful. As well the idea that you can get in trouble for saving something made publicly available is worse than some d-bag having to live with his d-bag comments made online.

    I do think if you have an account on something like Facebook that when you close it that data should

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