IFLA Publishes Open Letter on “Applying the Right to Be Forgotten” & Related Items
UPDATE October 25, 2016
Re: Three items follow.
1. From the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA):
The right to privacy can justify limitations on these freedoms by removing certain links from search results. However, decisions on this ‘right to be forgotten’ need to be taken carefully and in a balanced way.
To help librarians understand the issues and engage with policy-makers, IFLA agreed and published a statement on this subject in February 2016.
There have been subsequent attempts to expand the impact of such judgements. Most notably, we have seen calls by the French National Commission on Information and Freedoms (CNIL) to apply right to be forgotten decisions globally.
Such an application would create a number of difficulties, not only professionally for librarians, but also legally and politically. This open letter sets out the issues from a library point of view, in order to inform and support ongoing discussions.
On Thursday, October 20, 2016, the Wikimedia Foundation filed a petition with the French Supreme Courtin support of access to knowledge. In May 2015, the French data protection authority (CNIL) decided that Google must remove information globally from its search results when requested appropriately by French citizens. Since that time, Google and the CNIL have disagreed about how extensive such removals must be.
Although the CNIL’s case is directed towards Google, the gradual disappearance of Wikimedia pages from Google search results around the world ultimately impacts the public’s ability to find the invaluable knowledge contained within the Wikimedia projects. Search engines have played an important role in the quest for knowledge — roughly half of Wikipedia visits originate from search engines.
“The right to be forgotten right now is about a 10-20 year view of the world,” Anne Klinefelter, privacy law professor and director of the law library at University of North Carolina School of Law, said. Librarians “take a much longer view of the value and relevance of information.”
Tom Smedinghoff, privacy and data security of counsel at Locke Lord LLP in Chicago, said the RTBF “raises questions about the traditional role of libraries.”
Privacy professionals said that even if the reach of the RTBF was confined to the personal data of individuals in foreign jurisdictions where the principle is recognized, it still could have a detrimental affect on the ability of U.S. libraries to give the public the services it has traditionally provided.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.