Europe’s new ‘right to be forgotten’ law is designed to protect people’s privacy, allowing them, through a court ruling, to have information about them excised from the internet. Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the worldwide web, however, believes that ‘right to be forgotten’ is a bad thing, one that erodes free speech and history.
“This right to be forgotten — at the moment, it seems to be dangerous,” said Berners-Lee at the LeWeb conference on Wednesday. “The right to access history is important.”
The EU ruling obliges search engines – such as Bing, Yahoo, and Google – to scrub from its search results specific entries covered by a ‘right to be forgotten’ verdict, to protect people from stigmatisation. The ‘right to be forgotten’ law has been used, for example, to impede access to so-called ‘revenge porn’ sites. Berners-Lee continued, “It’s our society. We build it. We can define the rules about how to use data. That’s much better than trying to pretend a thing never happened.” Luckily, the European Parliament disagrees, considering potential access to damaging or distressing information online to be the true “danger”.