Jacob Sullum on the 'Right to Be Forgotten' vs. Freedom of Speech



Since the European Union's top court endorsed "the right to be forgotten" last week, Google has received more than 1,000 requests to remove links to embarrassing information from its search results. BBC News reports that the complainants have included a suspended university lecturer, an actor who had an affair with a teenager, a politician irked by an article about his behavior while in office, and "a man who tried to kill his family."

According to the European Court of Justice, national data protection agencies and judges are supposed to weigh the competing interests in each of these cases and decide which will prevail: the right to be forgotten or the right to know. Jacob Sullum says the decision illustrates the threat to freedom of speech posed by an amorphous, free-floating right to privacy.