Will Americans have the Right to Be Forgotten?

By: Jessica Friesen

In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that individuals, corporations and government officials in the European Union have the right to have their information removed from internet search engine if the listed information is deemed “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.”[1] From 2014 to 2018, Google has received more than 650,000 requests to have 2.4 million URL delisted from their search engine.[2] However, the links are only delisted within the European Union, and will still appear in on the search engine in countries outside of the European Union.[3]

Currently, the European Union is the only government that has declared that a person has the Right to Be Forgotten in internet search engines. In the United States, 88% of Americans support having the Right to Be Forgotten, however, there is faint hope of legislation being passed in the U.S. soon.[4] However, there has been one newspaper that has decided to take action into their own hands. The news site, cleveland.com, has begun their own Right to Be Forgotten project.[5] Their project includes taking requests from those who believe they should have their information removed, and the staff discusses whose names should be removed from old stories.[6] While their system is not perfect, it could be a step towards Americans having the Right to Be Forgotten.

[1] See Case C-131/12, Google Spain SL v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, (2014), http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=152065&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=133613; See alsoRebecca Heilweil, How Close Is An American Right-To-Be-Forgotten?, Forbes (Mar. 4, 2018), https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccaheilweil1/2018/03/04/how-close-is-an-american-right-to-be-forgotten/#16d4023626ef.

[2] See James Doubek, Google Has Received 650,000 ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Requests Since 2014, National Public Radio (Feb. 28, 2018), https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/28/589411543/google-received-650-000-right-to-be-forgotten-requests-since-2014; Heilweil, supra note 1.

[3] See Jake Swearingen, Europe’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Will Be Staying In Europe, Intelligencer(Jan. 10, 2019), http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/01/europes-right-to-be-forgotten-will-be-staying-in-europe.html.

[4] See Heilweil, supra note 1; See also Rich Matta, Americans deserve a ‘right to be forgotten,’The Hill (May 27, 2019), https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/445604-americans-deserve-a-right-to-be-forgotten.

[5] See Mary Kilpatrick, Radiolab Podcast Features Cleveland.com’s Right To Be Forgotten, Cleveland.com (Aug. 23, 2019), https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2019/08/radiolab-podcast-features-clevelandcoms-right-to-be-forgotten.html.

[6] Id.

Footnote 6: Per rule 1.2(a), correct omission of signal; Per rule 4.1, correct use of Id.