back to article Hasty legislation will make a mess of Europe's 'right to be forgotten'

The European Commission proposal to include a 'right to be forgotten' in data protection laws risks causing legal, technical and ethical mayhem if it is not thought through more thoroughly. While it might seem like a good idea to give people the right to force organisations to delete their personal data, legislators should stop …


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I wonder

"individuals should have the right to have their data fully removed when it is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was collected"

Now let me guess who this one won't apply to, hmmm?

Black Helicopters

"when it is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was collected"

who decides the data is "no longer needed."??

"Please delete my data"

"No, we need it to sell advertising."


"That's why we collected it in the first place."


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"information age should make it harder to lose objective records"

Guess this doesn't apply to Wikipedia, given how PR hacks polish their clients records.


What about credit references?

For example, should someone be entitled to demand that Experian delete their credit record?

I think the answer here is yes - they are making money out of selling data on someone without that person's consent, (even if that data happens to be true).

Another way to achieve a similar goal would be that any data about a person is co-owned by that person. Example: the paparazzi take a compromising photo of a celebrity. That celeb shouldn't get the right to have the photo deleted, but he *should* get the right to re-use the photo as he sees fit. He is in it; the copyright would therefore be partly his. What he can do is then use his right as the subject of the photo to give away free copies. This would set the value of the photo to zero, making the paparazzi photographer's income less lucrative. It doesn't hurt free speech, but it does hurt those who invade privacy for profit.

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I'd say that having a right of deletion for material I have supplied/uploaded is probably workable, but still messy, but the right to have all pictures of me removed from on-line is impractical and unworkable. Breach of privacy might provide another avenue for some pictures, but if a picture is taken of someone in a public place then there should be no expectation of privacy.

And that's only for social media sites - if we're talking about the electric company or other businesses holding data then there's a huge collision of requirements because in some instances they're required to keep information for a period.


Can we include Experian?

Please, please, can we include Experian in the right to delete.

At present the "credit reference" agencies operate what could be compared to a protection racket, they serve up any and all "data" about you, whether it is correct or not and whether it is about you or not, or just somebody who lived at an address like yours a few years before or after. The racket part is when they try to sell you a "credit ratings protection service" where you pay them money to be told month by month whether they are telling porkies about you. Apparently if you pay them the monthly "protection" fee they will stop nasty things happening to your "credit rating".

I have to ask how this is any different to ACS-Law and their abuse of data they obtained?


I agree completely about the racket

I signed up to one of the rating agencies to find out they had no records on me. Good I thought, then was rather unhappily surprised to see a month later that they were charging me a 'service fee' every month to keep telling me they don't know anything.

And getting off their lists is extremely difficult - several phone calls plus a message in writing, whereas there is no way to opt out on signup and the bit about the fee is in extremely small print.

Its an out and out scam and should be illegal.

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Too complicated

I must admit I couldn't grasp the whole of the article - too many posibilities, variations on a theme. I'll just settle for some simple points :

- If I provide info to a site/org for an express purpose I should be able to have it deleted once our arrangement is over.

- Anything I put into a personal space or profile should be deleted if I request it.

- If I put information into a public space (eg this post), I can't expect to have it deleted.

Other than that I don't expect to have any right of censorship over info that may be online and incidentally relate to me - except where the info itself is illegal.

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@ JustaKOS

Your suggestion is perhaps the most workable solution. Surely the first case (deleted once arrangement is over) is covered under the DPA? The second - social networking profiles - is perhaps what this legislation is aimed at. Some people put some really daft things on-line which they perhaps later regret. They should, at least, have the option to have this content taken down.

On the other hand, public domain postings (here, usenet, etc) and stuff placed on personal websites should be assumed to be "in the wild" and undeletable. Sure, you might be able to suppress the local copy (delete your posting, or have a mod delete it; take down your website, etc) but this by no means provides any sort of guarantee that the data is gone.

If I was going to make any suggestion for a law, I would make it mandatory that sites such as Google and archive.org make extremely clear and visible notices for stuff that is over, say, a year old saying "This content is eight years old". Why? When I was a net newbie, I was a bit of a prick and had some rather lively debates with a certain person who was equally idiotic. And somewhere there's an archive of all of this. Let it stay, I say. It was my stupidity but it was a part of who I was back then. But this was 1997. Kindly don't look at this crap *NOW* and think it represents who I am. I've moved on. I might not have wised up much, but moved on, yes. ;-)

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I have to be boring and agree with you :-). "In the wild" nicely captures the point about stuff you shouldn't expect to have deleted.

I have no on-line history to be concerned about (apart from the Reg, and i've been reasonably well-behaved here, i think), but I take the view that whatever I've done/said/written in tha past ia all me and I can't edit it out without editing out what/who I am. So leave it alone, i say.


Compare with paper

Refer to criminal records. They are reported in the press. Justice has to be public.

Many libraries keep microfilm of the Times, and the bl at Colindale has microfilm of every issue of every newspaper for public reference, which includes all the local papers with reports about quite trivial cases. I declare an interest as my record is so retained, and I am not upset about it.

So if criminal records are to be deleted for rehabilitation would we accept different laws for paper and electronic storage ?

Anonymous Coward

1066 And All That

Information technology has always been used to erode our freedom, with dire consequences. Here is a concise history of IT as it affects Her Britannic Majesty’s subjects today.

1) Pen and ink: In 1086, William the Conqueror (hereinafter ‘the Controlling Bastard’) enlists the skills of The Church in order to make an inventory for tax collection purposes, leading to the Magna Carta of 1215 and the subsequent First Barons’ War.

2) Printing: In 1604, King James authorises a mistranslation of God’s Word which, to this day, people argue must be true. Printing also facilitates the concept of bureaucratic form-filling, including income tax return forms, council planning application forms and fixed penalty notices. Equally significant, with moveable type enters the concept of easily revised rule books (not to the extent that any such concept might affect establishment views of the Word of God, as you can tell).

3) 18th century: In a surprising collaborative run-up to European union, the Ordnance Survey puts your house on the map and Napoleon gives it a street number. Do we complain? No, we think it’s a great idea that people can easily find us. The great grandfathers of Facebook and Google Street View discover spontaneous ejaculation.

4) 1832: With photographic processing, people’s actions can now be recorded mechanically by the camera, which never lies. Do we complain? No, we flock to have our pictures taken. The grandfathers of Google and Facebook experience simultaneous orgasm for the first time.

5) Suddenly, in 1836, we are required to register births, marriages and deaths. Do we complain? No, we hurry along to the newly created Register Office so as to avoid a newly created fine.

6) Consolidating and extending 1, 2, 3 and 5 above, in 1841 there’s the first national census in England and Wales. Do we complain? Sort of, in the sense that being confronted personally, we demand to know who’s asking and, on being told that it’s the King of England and that we can go to prison if we don’t answer, we tell the enumerators anything they’ll believe, making it annoyingly difficult for me to trace my ancestry and setting the trend for hopelessly misleading consumer surveys for centuries to come.

7) 1914 and 1939: Conscription, based on 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 above. Fancy that! Empires redefined, millions dead, population growth under control for the first time in history without divine intervention (see 2 above). For the first time since the collapse of the Roman Empire, government is more powerful than the Word of God.

8) In 1969, someone switches on the Internet. Why? Because it makes information easily accessible and, therefore, cheap. In a bid to control more people in more ways and for less money than ever before, governments are quick to entrust massive amounts of their secret data to the Internet.

9) 1984: With commendable foresight and following to the letter an instructional handbook written just 34 years earlier by a former civil servant named Eric Blair, HM Government sets up the Information Commissioner’s Office, charged with sanctifying the actions of Facebook and Google and undermining any revolutionary proletariat attempt to curb the power of the newly created Media Barons.

10) 1994: The Register shouts a rallying cry and an army of Anonymous Cowards rises up against governments and their Barons at Arms.

11) 1998: Sensing a threat to its databases as its most powerful secret weapon, HM Government responds by introducing the Data Protection Act, so criminalising errant factions of the proletariat.

12) 2000: By way of a cunning pre-emptive diversionary engagement conceived so as to defuse potentially riotous dissent, government introduces the Freedom of Information Act, permitting members of the proletariat to ask questions, subject to government’s conditions.

Meanwhile, as the proletariat awaits with bated breath the answers to its governmentally controlled questions, and under the comfortingly watchful gaze of CCTV surveillance, the now heavily armoured Credit Reference Agency divisions have already been mustered for front-line combat in the Controlling Bastard’s relentless assault against freedom of choice and personal integrity.

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Always assume that....

...once it's on the net it's always on the net.

Think before you type/upload.

This is one of the main reasons why I won't touch social engineering, oops sorry, i mean social networking.


Too long didn't read ;)

My response turned into a full blown blog post instead...


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