Privacy and the Right To Be Forgotten

Recently the EU granted EU citizens the Right To Be Forgotten on the internet. It basically follows the Right To Be Erased, meaning that personal data can only be stored so long to protect your privacy. Additionally the EU citizen in question can also request for the personal data to be erased in case the retained personal data can compromise the EU citizen in an unjustifiable situation.

I understand the principles of the Right To Be Forgotten, I also find it a demonstration of stupidity in many ways. In the context of the 21st century, the information age, the internet generation and digital communications it makes no sense. It makes no sense at all when you consider factors like human memory, human nature, digital traces, back-ups and screen shots.

Human memory and human nature are factors. When I do something silly or unkind, whatever it may be and someone remembers it and reacts to the memory of it in a certain way, it is not forgotten. When I did something unkind, all I can do is apologise and hope all is well again. Whatever I did in the past, it is in the past. In case I did not learn from it I am the only one to blame.

Then there are the digital traces. Everyone who is connected to the internet and browses on the internet leaves digital traces everywhere. It starts with the IP-number, the zeros and ones sent, the zeros and ones received, the history of links based on clicks and extends much further as you dig deeper. In fact these days AdBlock is necessary to prevent the worst kind of internet advertising to invade your screen.

That leaves back-ups and screen shots. Everything digital can be backed up on a computer in some format or another. Additionally, something on a given website can be recorded and saved in a screen shot. Save the screen shot as a PDF or image and what was on the internet can be put off-line.

The Right To Be Forgotten, in my opinion is an excuse for people too lazy to guard their on-line privacy. I was once a young internet user discovering the world-wide web. Internet privacy is not a given. To maintain a good reputation, you have to know what you are doing and what effect it may have. The EU cannot solve that problem…