Forbes blogger David Coursey is one of my oldest and dearest friends. But there are times when I wish he wasn’t 2,000 miles away so I could rap his knuckles over something he wrote. This week, it was his post in Forbes entitled “How the Right to be Forgotten Threatens the Internet.” It’s a story about a woman who had once allowed some rather compromising photos of herself to be posted online.
She changed her mind about the wisdom of that act, and had them removed, so that they wouldn’t jeopardize her career or her new marriage. And then she found out about the Way Back Machine, a searchable website that archives old images and pages that are no longer on the Internet. It wasn’t long before some co-workers found the photos she thought she’d erased forever.
David used her story to launch into a discussion of the European Union’s recently introduced laws that allow citizens of 27 countries to demand that information about themselves be removed on demand from any Internet site where it appears — regardless of what the information is. He also talks about how this is a threat to the Internet and the free speech rights of Internet users.
Huh? How on earth does someone’s demand the removal of a photo of themselves — one that they posted or allowed to be posted in the first place — jeopardize my free speech rights? Or David’s for that matter?
But David’s article makes some interesting points, too — so read it, and then let me know what you think about this issue. I have the feeling that it’s going to be around for quite awhile so all the lawyers can battle it out.