Yeah, We’ve Got a Book on That — Delete edition

Our resident tech-guru and online privacy advocate pointed me to recent news out of Spain. Several citizens are suing for the right to have their names “deleted” from Google — among them is a plastic surgeon who wants articles about a botched operation taken out of Google’s search results and a man who wants a notice that accuses him of non-payment of social security removed. This case has been referred to the EU’s top court for deliberation, but it could be a landmark ruling on privacy rights online.

We published Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger in which he makes the case for forgetting as a natural way for human brains (and hopefully machines) to deal with old, unimportant, or incorrect information. As the book’s description notes, “The digital realm remembers what is sometimes better forgotten, and this has profound implications for us all.” Viktor’s solution? Expiration dates on data coded into electronic files — after a user-set period of time, the file would simply no longer exist.

What do you think? Now that we have access to so much information and for unlimited time — should technology be forced to “forget” data after a certain amount of time? Do people have a right to be “forgotten”?