Trouble With the Right to Be Forgotten Law

by Admin on October 19, 2015

The ‘right to be forgotten’ law in Europe is having unintended side effects.

Take this post by Techdirt, who not long ago wrote a post about Thomas Goolnik. Goolnik succeeded in getting the post Techdirt wrote about him ”forgotten” by Google. Then, the subsequent post written on why the post had been forgotten…that was forgotten too. And then the one after that…you get the idea.

However, suddenly there is a dead end. The latest post on Goolnik still stands. Has Google not noticed, or has Goolnik just got tired of the charade?

In any case, the law is arguably having the opposite affect of what it intends.

For example, the man instrumental in the right to be forgotten law still isn’t happy. Mario Costeja Gonzalez originally argued that Google should not show results for his name in the late 90’s, when he was forced to sell some land to cover his debts. He argued that the story was damaging to his reputation.

The court ruled that the information was no longer relevant, and therefore could be “forgotten.”

However, when this occurred, Costeja was suddenly newsworthy and “relevant” again, and so the topic was covered by even more internet sources. When Costeja tried to get these stories taken down, Google refused. Costeja then took it to the Spanish DPA, who rejected the claim, arguing that Costeja had achieved the opposite of what he had intended – he had made himself relevant again.

This story is reminiscent of what is now known as the “Streisand effect.” So called due to Barbara Streisand trying to have photos of her Malibu home suppressed, however her attempts merely heightened interest in the photos and made them far more widespread than before.

Oh, irony.

Maybe this is proof that try as you might, the internet never really forgets. It’s also perhaps proof that you can win in law and still lose in life.

Read more here.

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