A right to Delete?

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This article looks at one of the potential for the establishment of a right to delete personal data. It asks whether a right to delete would be an appropriate, effective and proportionate tool in the context of personal data and if so what form should it take and what kind of an impact might it have. One version of the idea of a right to delete, the 'right to be forgotten', is of particular current interest: its mooted inclusion in the forthcoming revision of the Data Protection Directive has produced much debate and comment, some of it extremely negative, some emotional and some displaying both ignorance and misunderstanding. This article will argue that the right to be forgotten needs to be renamed and recast in order to address these negative reactions and the real concerns that underlie them. The article further argues that a qualified 'right to delete' should reflect a paradigm shift in attitudes to personal data on the internet: that the default should be that data can be deleted, and that those holding the data should need to justify why they hold it. This could help to shape a more privacy-friendly future for the internet, one that could provide a better balance between the needs to individuals for privacy, businesses for financial success and governments for security than currently exists.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Law and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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