There’s an interesting privacy concept that’s gaining more and more attention these days.  It’s called “the right to be forgotten.”  It’s one of the key individual privacy rights contained in the new proposed European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation.  The provisions would allow a EU resident to request that a business delete all of his personal information the business has.  The Regulation makes clear the business has to delete the information wherever it resides —- and if the business has put the information on a publicly available site, the information has to be deleted there as well as from any search engine.  

The EU Regulation is now under review by the EU Member countries and will likely be modified before it’s adopted.  (and then will take effect 2 years post adoption).

So why should we be aware of this idea since we’re not EU residents?  Because the “right to be forgotten” is gaining traction in the U.S. as well.  Advocates want us to be able to have increased control over our personal information — who has it, how it’s used and shared and how long it is maintained.  There are those who say that it’s too late to try and recapture all of our personal information because it’s already out there — and that there would be logistical problems created by asking businesses to do so.  Noah Kaplan’s done a very good analysis of the “right to be forgotten” that presents a balanced assessment.  If you’re interested, it’s at: http://harvardcrcl.org/2012/02/26/tradeoffs-in-the-right-to-be-forgotten.

Think about whether you’d like to have the ability to be forgotten — it might become more of the options we have  presented to us on websites at sometime in the future.