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Picture the most humiliating experience of your life. Now imagine that this awful moment was captured on video by someone else and posted online where anyone could access it just by Googling your name.

This scenario is reality for a growing number of people, and has given rise to the concept of a “Right to Be Forgotten” – the idea that individuals should have some measure of control over personal information or images of them on the internet.

Since 2014, the European Union has given this idea the force of law. And its members have created a legal framework for people to have damaging information about themselves – from misdemeanor convictions to drunken photographs to ill-advised blog posts – removed from websites and search engine results.

Five years later, the way the law has been implemented in Europe remains controversial as critics argue that it threatens press freedoms and has given too much power to Google to determine what should be in the public sphere. Despite this, the concept has spread to other countries and is increasingly debated in the United States.

 

Joining the program:

  • Willem Van Lynden, online reputation specialist, MediaMaze
  • Meg Leta Jones, associate professor of communication, culture and technology, Georgetown University
  • Michael Oghia, advocacy and engagement manager, Global Forum for Media Development

 

Assistant producers: Kyle McCubbin, Minna Tian, Renae Whissel
Supervising producers: Trevor Hook, Edom Kassaye

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