Segments in this Video

Introduction: Right to Be Forgotten Online Debate (01:22)


Moderator John Donvan reflects on finding personal information on the Internet and frames the debate about allowing individuals to remove that information.

Debate "Housekeeping" (04:22)

Donvan introduces the panelists arguing for and against the "right to be forgotten" online and instructs audience members on the pre-debate vote.

For the Motion: Paul Nemitz (07:28)

Director of Fundamental Rights & Citizenship and Director General for Justice& Consumers of the European Commission, Nemitz argues that individuals should have the right to ask big corporations or the state to delete personal data to maintain the privacy necessary for organized dissent. In Europe, Google is subject to the law of self-control of informational self-determination for individuals.

Against the Motion: Andrew McLaughlin (07:16)

CEO of DIGG and Instapaper, and former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama administration, McLaughlin acknowledges the emotional rationale for the "right to be forgotten" but argues that the right does not clear the high bar of censorship and it would force people to forget true information.

For the Motion: Eric Posner (07:25)

Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, Posner conveys the idea of privacy with several examples. He argues that the Internet allows freedom of speech to overshadow invasion of privacy.

Against the Motion: Jonathan Zittrain (07:04)

Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, Zittrain uses the example of a lawsuit and selected removal to highlight why the "right to be forgotten" is a bad solution to privacy problems. He argues for adjudication of information removal.

Encouraging Censorship? (07:44)

Donvan summarizes the arguments for and against the motion. Nemitz states that the "right to be forgotten" is not censorship because it is not in the hands of the state; it makes it difficult for strangers to find information. The opposition counters with the definition of censorship and remarks on the distinction of tort actions.

Internet Search Results (03:01)

McLaughlin remarks on the moral bankruptcy of the ability to remove "irrelevant information" in a narrow way. Nemitz counters that most information removal requests in the EU have nothing to do with public interest and highlights the implications of big corporations and that state knowing everything about a person.

Chilling Effects (02:10)

Donvan asks the opposition to consider which is worse, being very careful about your information so that it doesn't cause future problems, or someone having the power of information removal. Zittrain rejects having to choose between the two options.

Criteria for Information Removal (03:24)

The proponents define "inadequate information" for whom and to what purpose. Ordinary people will benefit from the ability to "be forgotten" online. Right to deletion decisions have been occurring for some time; clear criteria appears after looking at several cases.

Allowing Elite Abilities (03:32)

The opposition states that the " right to be forgotten"allows the well-connected and politicians to suppress embarrassing information. McLaughlin uses a Google search to highlight "public interest" and notes the context of censorship versus surveillance.

Q&A: Right Infringements (01:35)

Have there been cases where one person's right to remember infringes on another person's right to be forgotten? Nemitz has not heard of this happening.

Q&A: Google's Power (02:05)

Should the audience draw conclusions about Google's financial support of Zittrain's Harvard institution? Zittrain uses the question to highlight accountability.

Q&A: Law Tailored to Google (02:40)

What criterion in the EU determines what constitutes a data manager? Nemitz states the law in Europe is specific to Google and distinguishes the search engine from newspapers; McLaughlin believes all search functions and features are subject to the law.

Q&A: Administrative Criteria (03:03)

Are there mechanisms in place to make the "right to be forgotten" workable in the U.S.? Zittrain worries about a litigation style model to address the situation; McLaughlin believes there is nothing that would make it acceptable. Posner notes right to privacy and expungement laws.

Q&A: 4th Amendment Context (01:45)

How do you align the inherent right to privacy with privacy expectations after sharing information? Posner states that constitutional norms are not fixed and will be reconsidered in light of new technology.

Q&A: Validity of Anonymity (01:34)

Zittrain highlights a case where Congress passed a law requiring registration for Communist information access.

Q&A: Law Application (02:16)

How would the law apply to developers who private search engines? In Europe, data protection laws do not apply to those seeking information for private use. The law applies to Google, the state, and private search engines.

Q&A: Oklahoma University Students' Racist Remarks (04:17)

Donvan passes on remarks about liable law. An audience member uses an example of racism to question whether or not the information should be found in the future. Posner compares a public event to activities done as a youth in the context of time; McLaughlin counters with Internet evolution.

Q&A: Adjudicating Power (03:42)

Nemitz explains the checks in place to regulate Google's "right to be forgotten" activities. McLaughlin notes the rights of victims to have the information available online. Posner notes vindication and disclosure.

Concluding Statements For: Paul Nemitz (02:10)

With the advancement of technology, more information will be collected by the state and private parties allowing them to predict, profile, and manipulate individuals.

Concluding Statements Against: Andrew McLaughlin (02:19)

The proponents are trying to force people to forget information they may want to remember; it's the wrong solution to a very real problem.

Concluding Statements For: Eric Posner (02:02)

Privacy has been a right in the U.S. for a long time. Imagine people learning personal information about you online.

Concluding Statements Against: Jonathan Zittrain (02:15)

Google's decision would only be reviewable if the complainant was unhappy with the result.

Debate Wrap Up (03:07)

Donvan thanks the panelists, audience members who asked questions, and sponsors. Zittrain makes a final statement about character after the voting was recorded. Donvan introduces upcoming debates.

Audience Voting Results (00:50)

Pre-debate - For: 36 - Against: 26 - Undecided: 38. Post-debate- For: 35 - Against - 56 - Undecided: 9

Credits: The U.S. Should Adopt the "Right to Be Forgotten" Online: A Debate (00:58)

Credits: The U.S. Should Adopt the "Right to Be Forgotten" Online: A Debate

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The U.S. Should Adopt the "Right to Be Forgotten" Online: A Debate

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In 2014, the European Union's Court of Justice ruled that individuals have a right to be forgotten online, "the right—under certain conditions—to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them." This right is not absolute, however, but meant to be balanced against other fundamental rights, like freedom of expression. In the six months following the court's decision, Google received more than 180,000 removal requests. Of those reviewed and processed, 41% were granted. Largely seen as a victory by Europeans, the reaction among Americans was overwhelmingly negative. Was the Court of Justice's ruling a win for privacy and human dignity, or a blow to free speech and public information? Should the United States adopt the "right to be forgotten" online?

Length: 92 minutes

Item#: BVL94776

ISBN: 978-1-68272-109-4

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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