Digital Memory & Informational Privacy: Reflecting on the EU’s ‘Right To Be Forgotten’- Working Paper by Ujwala Uppaluri

As part of a complete overhaul of European Union regulations concerning Internet information stored electronically, a proposal for a ‘General Data Regulation’ was been passed by the European Parliament. The Regulation is intended to be read with the existing law as to data protection in the European Union, specifically the Data Protection Directive and the E-Privacy Directive. Inter alia, this legislative attempt made reference at its Article 17 to a data subject’s right to be forgotten. The proposal sparked a staggering amount of debate around the consequences of the grant of such a right, with particular resistance arising out of the potential burden that such a right could impose on intermediaries online.

Since that proposal was made, a ‘right to be forgotten’ has been articulated by the Court of Justice of the Eurpoean Union (CJEU). It used existing data protection law, including portions of the Data Protection Directive of 1995 to read in a right to be forgotten for data subjects, and a corresponding obligation to takedown for intermediaries, and search engines in particular. As with Article 17, Costeja has been the subject of a great deal of criticism.

This paper will cursorily consider the history and nature of machine memory, make the case for digital forgetting, describe the legal and conceptual sources of the right to be forgotten, and evaluate Article 17 and the CJEU’s iteration of the right, with the intention of contributing to this debate. Particular emphasis will be placed, in the process, on informational privacy on the fundamentals of data protection and on the many concerns that the present iteration of the right raises not only for Europe but for data protection law generally.

The Complete Paper can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwY1OLu_H1ICRTRaWEtTOVFFVlU/view?usp=sharing

(Ujwala Uppaluri was a Fellow at CCG from June 2014 to April 2015 and will be joining Harvard Law School to pursue her LL.M. from August 2015.)  

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