In 2014, the European Union's Court of Justice determined that individuals have a right to be forgotten, "the right-under certain conditions-to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them." It is not absolute, but meant to be balanced against other fundamental rights, like freedom of expression. In the half year since the Court's decision, Google has received over 180,000 removal requests. Of those reviewed and processed, 40.5% were granted. Largely seen as a victory in Europe, in the U.S., the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. Was this ruling a blow to free speech and public information, or a win for privacy and human dignity?
Andrew McLaughlin is a partner at betaworks, and CEO of Digg and Instapaper. He worked at the White House as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States, and is former Director of Global Public Policy at Google, leading the company's work on issues surrounding freedom of expression, censorship, and national security.
Paul F. Nemitz is the director for fundamental rights and union citizenship in the Directorate General for Justice of the European Commission. The free movement of people in Europe, data protection, and children's rights are also key responsibilities of his Directorate. Before joining DG Justice, Nemitz held posts in the Legal Service of the European Commission, the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Development Cooperation, and the Directorates General for Trade, Transport, and Maritime Affairs. In addition to broad experience as agent of the commission in litigation before the European Courts, he has published extensively on EU law, which he is currently teaching as a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. Nemitz studied law at Hamburg University and obtained a Master of Comparative Law from George Washington University Law School, where he was a Fulbright grantee.
Eric Posner is Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair. His current research interests are international law and constitutional law.
Jonathan L. Zittrain is an American professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and a faculty co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Previously, Zittrain was Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and visiting professor at the New York University School of Law and Stanford Law School. He is the author, most recently, of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It; and co-editor of the book Access Denied.
Paul Nemitz, director for Fundamental Rights and Citizenship at the European Commission, and Digg CEO Andrew McLaughlin argues the Right to Be Forgotten is a legal way for elite classes to legally suppress embarrassing facts about their past.