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Right to be forgotten V the public interest


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Right to be forgotten V the public interest

Eloise Gratton addresses the issue of the Right to be forgotten V the public interest. She opines that we might be better off improving our own private initiatives rather than copying the European Union. The position of the European Union in this matter can be deduced from the Google Spain Case where it was decided that such a right would allow people to stop search engines from providing information about them that are inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.

The author states that as much as this right may not just erase original source of information, it would remove results for certain names so as to hide information. Such a right will be far-fetched baring in mind that hyperlinks and such results have proved vital in disseminating, finding and accessing information. And such will definitely have an effect to the core constitutional values of freedom of expression, namely, truth-finding, democratic discourse and self-fulfillment. Values that are rather basic to Canadians.

In her view, the definition given for the scope of this right by the European Union is very broad, subjective and vague. Search engines will enforce this right to reduce costs or evade liability. It would also mean that information of public interest could easily be removed from the public domain. Therefore, artists, authors, webmasters or the public are not informed about a complaint and are not given the opportunity to prove relevance or adequacy when a particular piece is removed. According to the author, the fact that claimants can even resort to the courts and privacy authorities to challenge decisions against their right to be forgotten breaches one of the most fundamental principles of procedural fairness.

Canada can therefore stop taking after the European Union. The author refers to the stringent reputation-friendly and privacy legal framework in Quebec as elevated and protected by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Civil Code of Quebec. Quebec’s, civil code, for instance, prohibits the publishing of someone’s name, image, likeness or voice for a purpose “other than the legitimate information of the public.” While recovery for defamation in common law jurisdictions may be barred if the statements are.

It is therefore erroneous to make such rights to privacy absolute and must instead be balanced with freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the public right to information. This is possible by the application of the “legitimate public interest” test. This will not only uphold the freedom of expression, but also see that damages are granted for unjustifiably and unreasonably republishing old information that is no longer of public interest, for example in a descriptive and sensationalist manner……………….Right to be forgotten V the public interest

The author also recognizes the efforts of such engines in protecting reputation and privacy online.

The evolution of laws protecting reputation and privacy is an important aspect for consideration before implementing the right to be forgotten. The Criminal Code was amended in 2014 and it provides a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.