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iRights Campaign: Battling for the Right to be Forgotten

New research has found that the families of young people are requesting professional help in deleting personal information online, in the same week that the iRights initiative has launched – campaigning for the rights of children and young people (under 18) to easily edit or delete all digital content they have created on the internet.

Personal experimentation is an essential part of childhood development, yet the internet never forgets and never corrects,’ says iRights. ‘It can possess an infinite memory of each individual and all of their online actions.
[...] Errors of judgement, unhappy experiences and attitudes that were the product of immaturity are saved on the internet long after they have faded from the memory of friends and family. This can make it extremely difficult for young people to get away from their past experience and move on.
[...] it is inappropriate for a third party, commercial or otherwise, to own, retain or process the data of minors without giving them the opportunity to retract it or to correct misinformation.

Take Spanish third division winger Julio Rey, for instance, who was on the brink of joining Deportivo La Coruña last week, only to have his career-changing move dashed when the La Liga side dug up an old tweet from 2012 – when Rey was only 17 – in which he insulted the club. Deportivo cancelled the transfer there and then.

A report from UK online reputation experts Igniyte shows that 40% of their requests come from individuals rather than corporations looking to manage their online profile. Another 40% wanted help removing incorrect or defamatory information. 21% were the parents or families of young people concerned about their online reputation, while 16% of all new clients were looking for support with ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.

Despite being criticised for allowing criminals to hide their past from the public, over a third of requests were from crime victims who just wanted to protect their online privacy – not from criminals.

Commenting on the findings of the report and the iRights campaign, Igniyte’s Managing Partner Simon Wadsworth said: ‘For the iRights campaign to be a success, it needs to be backed by the main search engines and social platforms who tend to house the content that young people post online. Further legislation is required to protect them and practical steps taken to ensure children and adults are educated in how things are published, who can see them and what can be removed.’

In a landmark May 2014 ruling, Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that individuals have the right to ask Google to remove search results about them that are out of date or inflammatory. Google has now released a transparency report on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests which shows that they have received 290,000 requests and evaluated over one million URLs for removal in total since the ruling came into effect. 41.3% of requests were granted, according to the report. However, those that are deleted are only removed from its European websites such as Google.de and Google.fr – not from Google.com.

Last month, the French national data protection authority, CNIL, demanded that Google should extend the ‘right to be forgotten’ to all versions of Search globally, not just in Europe. Google said that it ‘respectfully’ disagrees with the CNIL’s authority on the issue. The company’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said in a blog post that the French regulator’s request is a ‘troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.

‘While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally,’ he added. The CNIL said it would look into Google’s appeal and make a decision in two months on whether or not to accept it.

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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iRights Campaign: Battling for the Right to be Forgotten Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, July 31, 2015 Rating: 5
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