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Rub out the daft “right to be forgotten”

Despite EU Justice Minister Viviane Reding thinking that the proposed “Right to be forgotten” should be one of the four pillars of the new data protection directive, opposition to the idea is growing.

Not only has the UK’s Communications Minister Ed Vaizey gone into print in the Financial Times to question the practicality of such a provision, but social networking giant Facebook has publically expressed concern. It could be argued that the problem really lies with a culture of “over-sharing” and data naivety but that is unlikely to wash with Ms Reding.

Vaizey is right to point out some of the problems of this misguided idea, not the least of which is that it is counter-intuitive to some of the other requirements of the legislation. Has anyone considered how a Data Controller is supposed to suppress marketing communications from rented-in data if someone has exercised their right to have their data eradicated from his system? It also begs that old question about what data is “personal”. All businesses need to be able to account for transactions made with them, but if these are online transactions attached to a static IP address, they could well be in the scope of what needs to be forgotten.

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