Embarrassing, inaccurate or simply personal data will have to be deleted from the internet and company databases if consumers ask, under a new set of European laws.
The move will mean that social networks such as Facebook or Twitter will have to comply with users' requests to delete everything they have ever published about themselves online. It will also mean that consumers will be able to force companies that hold data about them, such as for Tesco's Clubcard, to remove it.Naturally it being the Telegraph and all matters EU this isn't actually recent news. The EU have been keen to do this for some time. Eager to update the 1995 Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC), here's the EU Commission's paper in 2010 (page 9):
"...clarifying the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’, i.e. the right of individuals to have their data no longer processed and deleted when they are no longer needed for legitimate purposes. This is the case, for example, when processing is based on the person’s consent and when he or she withdraws consent or when the storage period has expired;"And from a "EU data protection reform – frequently asked questions":
For example, there should be a "right to be forgotten," which means that individuals should have the right to have their data fully removed when it is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was collected. People who want to delete profiles on social networking sites should be able to rely on the service provider to remove personal data, such as photos, completely.
Similarly, users should know and understand about how their internet use is being monitored for the purposes of behavioural advertising. For example, people should be aware when online retailers use previously viewed web sites as a basis to make product suggestions.
And the reason the EU is keen on this is relatively simple, it allows another power grab which leads onto more regulation of the internet, dressed up as 'looking after our interests', as well as another important persuasive factor:It is also important that individuals are informed when their data has been unlawfully accessed, altered or destroyed by unauthorised persons. The Commission is therefore considering extending the obligation to notify personal data breaches beyond the currently covered telecommunications sector to other areas, such as the financial industry.
The changes...also include a new EU power to fine companies up to 2 per cent of their global turnover if they breach the rules.More potential coffers in the kitty, how convenient.
But despite this, going by the comments under the Telegraph article the EU move appears to be depressingly popular - "at last the EU does something useful" is a common one. The irony of complaining about lack of privacy on the internet by...er...posting a comment on the internet appears to be lost; epitomised by this gem (click to enlarge):
One wonders why you'd complain about internet privacy when voluntarily signing up to a 'social networking' website where the fundamental business model is based on sharing information.
Then there's the practicalities - one man's privacy is another's free speech. What if you want to as an example, years later, erase a photograph of yourself on Facebook being embarrassingly drunk but the other chap in the picture finds it highly amusing and wants to retain it? Whose rights come first?
What if you're on a protest and photographed by a newspaper who then advertises their story on Facebook. Should you be able to insist Facebook remove the picture? This would surely be tantamount to censorship. And we all know where these kind of 'helpful' laws' eventually end up:
Wikipedia is under a censorship attack by a convicted murderer who is invoking Germany’s privacy laws in a bid to remove references to his killing of a Bavarian actor in 1990.And there's the technicalities. Is it possible to request that every bit of data that might identify you is erased? For example removing IP addresses, logs and timestamps? The list would be endless and is impossible to enforce. What about demanding that even your request for deletion gets deleted?
In summary, what we have is an unelected and unaccountable Government body wanting to regulate the internet, and thus by implication free speech, on the pretext of our own protection. That, history tells us, never leads to anywhere good.