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NEWS17 November 2011

‘Right to be forgotten’ is unenforceable, says ICO

Government UK

UK— The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s personal data watchdog, has come out against a proposed ‘right to be forgotten’, saying it is unenforceable and has implications for freedom of expression.

European officials want to incorporate such a right to give people the power to delete their data at any time, in revised data protection rules, proposals for which are due to be published at the end of January.

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said recently that “users should be in control of their data”, a point the ICO agrees with. In a briefing document, the organisation says changes to the data protection framework should strengthen individual rights to object to and block processing of their personal information, and to have their data deleted.

But the ICO worries that a “stand-alone ‘right to be forgotten’ could mislead individuals and falsely raise their expectations, and be impossible to implement and enforce in practice”.

“There are implications for freedom of expression and questions as to how far individuals should be able [to] rewrite their own or others’ history,” the ICO said.

It is a view shared by UK culture minister Ed Vaizey, who told an audience of advertisers earlier this month: “We need to be clear about the practicalities of any regulation… No government can guarantee that photos shared with the world will be deleted by everyone when someone decides it’s time to forget that drunken night-out. We should not give people false expectations.”

@RESEARCH LIVE

4 Comments

8 years ago

Sad but true. If you don't want something to go online, don't say it and don't do it. It's as easy as that.

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8 years ago

Interesting semantic point here though - nobody's saying it's an idea without merit, or a bad idea, just that it's not easily implemented at the current time. It does tie in to the wider point really about how consumer 'publish' information and views (implied privacy vs real privacy and so on), but given that the ICO enforces the ability for individuals to write to organisations demanding that information on them be deleted, it's a surprise to see them trying to state a position against that when it comes to digital. In the long run, one can't help thinking that they will have to perform a u-turn...

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8 years ago

It never seize to amaze me how people like to impose their will without doing proper ground research. They will probably realise in the long-term that it's a waste of time and taxpayers money to create a "data protection" industry. Privacy is probably an outdated concept in a few years time given the fact that what might once have been considered "creepy" and invasive to some may become "normal" to certain segment of the population. I agree with what Annie Petit said. Service providers should just disclose everything from the outset. If users don't want anything to go online, then don't go online. It's as simple as that! Kind Regards, Jasper Lim Merlien Institute

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8 years ago

@Annie Pettit and Jasper Lim, no offence, but I think "Right to be Forgotten" means much more than just shutting their mouth to keep the privacy safe. It's about protecting people from other people blabbing about other people's sensitive data.

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