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Free Speech vs. Internet Privacy and the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

E-Commerce Times
06.10.14

Amazingly, an EU court’s recent landmark opinion refers to an 1890 Harvard Law Review article entitled “The Right to Privacy,” co-authored by Louis D. Brandeis, which contends that individuals have the right to be protected: “Recent inventions and business methods such as instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precincts of private and domestic life.”

The conventional wisdom of the Internet is that everything posted, whether on social media, a website or anywhere else, will be on the Internet forever. That conventional wisdom was just challenged successfully in a recent ruling handed down by the EU’s highest court. A new conventional wisdom may arise from that ruling — that we have a “right to be forgotten.”

Beginning in 1989, the EU was interested in protecting the privacy of EU citizens. As a result, a law known as the “EU 1995 Data Directive,” or Directive 95/46, was created. This law gives EU residents a broad right to privacy, allowing them to require that information stored in computers or on the Internet be corrected or removed. A number of EU citizens’ cases have been brought for the correction or removal of reports in news media that include what is considered private information.

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