January 16, 2022

NY Times: “Researchers Uncover a Flaw in Europe’s Tough Privacy Rules” (Right to Be Forgotten)

From The NY Times:

Europe likes to think it leads the world in protecting people’s privacy, and that is particularly true for the region’s so-called right to be forgotten. That legal right allows people connected to the Continent to ask search engines like Google to remove links about themselves from online search results under certain conditions.

Yet that right — one of the world’s most widespread efforts to protect people’s privacy online — may not be as effective as many European policy makers think, according to new research by computer scientists based, in part, at New York University.

The academic team, which also included experts from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, said that in roughly a third of the cases examined, the researchers were able to discover the names of people who had asked for links to be removed. Those results, based on the researchers’ use of basic coding, came despite the individuals’ expressed efforts to remove their names from online searches.

The findings, which had not previously been made public and will be presented at an academic conference in July, raise questions about how successful Europe’s “right to be forgotten” can be if people’s identities can still be found with just a few clicks of a mouse. The paper says such breaches may undermine “the spirit” of the legal ruling.

Read the Complete NY Times Article and Complete Conference Paper

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.