The Right to Be Forgotten on the Internet

The UK newspaper The Guardian has published a series of articles on Internet privacy – the right to be forgotten which addresses many of the issues surrounding the (occasionally embarrassing) traces we leave as we use online services.

Reading some of the articles got me feeling a little bit paranoid:

The internet has a long memory. But what if the pictures, data and personal information that it can pull up about you appear unfair, one-sided or just plain wrong? More and more people are claiming they have a “right to be forgotten” and are even trying to delete themselves from the web. The issue appears poised to generate legal, technological and moral wranglings for years to come

Among the articles in the series are:

  • How easy is it to delete yourself from the web – your experiences : “There are many reasons you may want to try and delete yourself from the web from fake social media accounts and compromising photographs to long outgrown views. Guardian readers share their experiences of attempts to delete an unwanted online presence.”
  • Right to erasure protects people’s freedom to forget the past, says expert: “He describes himself as the ‘midwife’ of the idea of the right to be forgotten. And for Viktor Mayer-Schönberger , it’s not just about the legal, moral and technical arguments – but about what it is to be human.”
  • How to delete your digital life: “Wiping away your digital life means getting rid of the traces you’ve left – the mistakes you made, the embarrassing photos, the unwise comments, the flawed social media profiles where you’ve left too much visible. But how easy is that? The following steps provide a start to reducing your digital footprint and taking back control of your online life.”
  • Do below-the-line commenters have the right to remove their own comments?: “A politician makes a joke which she later regrets. A footballer says something on the pitch which he quickly realises was unfortunate. A person leaves a comment beneath an article which he then wishes he hadn’t made. All can now be found reported online accurately. All of these people have all expressed an opinion they later regret. Which of them have the legal right to have their words deleted upon request?”


  1. Richard Isacoff

    With the total lack of privacy, one can only eliminate further damage on the internet. GO OFF OF THE GRID -totally. In an era where all information is sold to anyone or stolen by anyone or “viewed” by any government, going off of the grid requires cash, working under-the-table, no license, auto ins., etc

    And, if one like I have had a blog and a website and comment, like now, it’s a lost cause. It would be easier to get a new identity, have plastic surgery, wear contacts w/ different retinal patterns from your real ones, and hide somewhere.

    I do not believe it’s possible but…