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    Christian Science Monitor: EU defends the ‘right to disappear’

    The Christian Science Monitor has a discussion of the movement in the European Union urging the “right to disappear”:

    If the European Union gets its way, people […] may have an easier time erasing their online selves. The EU wants to give Internet users the right to what the French call le droit à l’oubli – literally, the right to oblivion.

    Viviane Reding, the EU’s justice commissioner, is pushing for tougher privacy safeguards in an effort to give Internet users more control of their personal data that is collected, stored, mined, and could potentially be sold by companies like Facebook, Google, or any of the vast number of sites where users upload photos, provide private details, and, every once in a while, post something embarrassing.

    The new rules, which are set to be in place later this year, put the EU in the vanguard of Internet privacy laws and could influence other countries, namely the United States, as Internet law becomes an increasingly pressing and controversial arena. What’s more, the stronger EU stance on privacy may have profound effects on companies like Facebook, which declined to be interviewed for this article, that have millions of users across Europe. […]

    The legal rejig will also see companies forced to prove they need to collect the data for which they ask and allow users to remove all traces of themselves from sites they join. […]

    While Europe’s move might be welcome in some quarters (especially among those who want to scrub the Internet of their digital footprints), criticism is coming from American technology companies and some advocates who come down on the side of freedom of expression online over the right to privacy.

    Writing on his blog, Google’s privacy counsel described the move as “foggy thinking” and claimed “privacy is the new black in censorship fashion.”

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