Not Made in America: The Right to Be Forgotten

Written by David Michaelis

Once we all had the right to be forgotten. It was a guiding principal that let someone just pick up and start over. Now we have the Streisand Effect. Forget you? Not on your life. Here’s David Michaelis with more.

aNewDomain — The new right? The right to be forgotten. At least in Europe. The citizens of Europe have so far submitted thousands upon thousands of requests to redact things from Google.Including from parents of teenagers who sexted it all…
The iPad 2

When you think about it, the forget me right matches up withe two very American traditions: The right to reinvent yourself and the right to get a second chance.

As Harvard’s Jonathan Zittrain put it, reputation bankruptcy used to be a starting point. Want to be forgotten? To start over? In the past, “just by moving by stagecoach — say, from Texas to Idaho — you could develop a whole new persona.” Or, in today’s language, you could stop, start again and just rebrand yourself. These days, though, you can’t just shred your past. Now it’s in the metadata. The government’s got it. Facebook’s got it. Google has it. Everything you are and do is stored on a huge server somewhere.
Sexting by Teens.
Sexting is widespread in europe and the USA- as PBS report
shows” JUDY WOODRUFF: Data is scarce, but one study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and found that one in five young people in their upper teens had sexted at least once. That study was back in 2008, before new sharing technologies like Snapchat and Instagram even existed.”-see Newshour-30/10/2014
Teens in Europe and USA are the same.Snapchat and others keep your kids stuff,this is why Europeans are so scared that their privacy will be eliminated. All they have to do is look to America to see the writing on the wall.

The Streisand Effect

Ever since the Global Financial Crash of 2008, people have been looking for good ways to reinvent themselves and make themselves anew as potential workers and executives in the so-called New Economy.

But even if you’ve never committed a crime, your past is there to haunt you.As a teenager you and your parents are not aware of what it mean not to be forgotten.
Consider the Streisand Effect, named for singer Barbra Streisand’s failed attempt to have photos of her house removed from the Internet. It only led to more views. Before she tried to conceal her house, there were just a few views of her house. Afterward, there were thousands.

The more you complain and the more you attempt to hide stuff about you online, the more it will be viewed, in the end. And the more trolls you will attract.

In The New Yorker, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote:

In recent years, many people have made the same kind of effort (as Streisand) — from actors who don’t want their private photographs in broad circulation to ex-convicts who don’t want their long-ago legal troubles to prevent them from finding jobs. Despite the varied circumstances, all these people want something that does not exist in the United States: the right to be forgotten.”


Above: Barbra Streisand’s home, inspiration for the Streisand Effect

And If You Have a Criminal Record?

The real challenge arises if you have a criminal record.

There is a principal known as the Bankruptcy Principal, which holds, basically, that if a person has ever been convicted of a crime and sent to prison, he cannot be perceived as a felon forever.

Sex offenders aren’t included, of course. Society will never forgive them. But what of other crimes? It’s up to the courts and the laws to figure out whether they really mean what they say.

As Harvard’s Zittrain wrote in the Harvard Law Review:

… the Court needs to recognize that the Web is protean. Sites and content change, including such ever evolving pages as Wikipedia biographies … which means that a decision rendered at one point in time may lose its rationale later on … just as the Court acknowledges that something that was once relevant could become irrelevant over time, and thus subject to a takedown. Its argument cuts both ways. One way to deal with this is for redaction decisions to be limited in time … “

In the US, it is next to impossible to redact or shred your past. It’s doable, but solutions are hard to come by. Here’s how to become anonymous online, as anonymous as you can be. Not easy.

Sadly, the US doesn’t look to be changing to the EU way of protecting citizens’ privacy any time soon. Forgive but not forget — that’s the American attitude this day. Sold five grams of weed and got busted for it 10 years ago? Put up a drunk selfie on Facebook back in college? Tough.

We all deserve second chances, but you won’t get one Made in America.

For aNewDomain, I’m David Michaelis. 

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him