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Intelligence² Debate: Should the US Adopt "The Right to be Forgotten?"

Intelligence² Debate: Should the US Adopt "The Right to be Forgotten?"

featuring Berkman Co-founder Jonathan Zittrain

March 11, 2015
6:45-8:30 PM EDT

Berkman Co-founder Jonathan Zittrain and former Berkman fellow Andrew McLaughlin join public radio's Intelligence Squared US for a debate on the European Union's "Right to be Forgotten" rule, and whether it should be adopted in the US. 

Additional panelists include: Paul Nemitz, Director of Fundamental Rights & Citizenship, DG Justice & Consumers, EU Commission, and Eric Posner, Professor of Law, University of Chicago

In 2014, the European Union’s Court of Justice determined that individuals have a right to be forgotten, “the right—under certain conditions—to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them.” It is not absolute, but meant to be balanced against other fundamental rights, like freedom of expression. In a half year following the Court’s decision, Google received over 180,000 removal requests. Of those reviewed and processed, 40.5% were granted. Largely seen as a victory in Europe, in the U.S., the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. Was this ruling a blow to free speech and public information, or a win for privacy and human dignity?

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About Jonathan Zittrain

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, co-founder and faculty director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and professor of computer science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, and human computing. He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and, as part of the OpenNet Initiative, co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments. He holds board positions at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Scientific American, and was a trustee of the Internet Society, a forum fellow of the World Economic Forum, and a distinguished scholar-in-residence at the FCC, where he chaired the Open Internet Advisory Committee. He is the author of The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It (2009).

About Andrew McLaughlin

Andrew McLaughlin is currently CEO of Digg and Instapaper and a partner at betaworks. From 2009-11, he was a member of Obama's senior White House staff, serving as deputy chief technology officer of the U.S., responsible for advising the president on Internet, technology, and innovation policy. Previously, he was director of global public policy at Google, leading the company's work on issues like freedom of expression and censorship, surveillance and law enforcement, privacy, and Internet regulation. McLaughlin has lectured at Stanford Law and Harvard Law, and held fellowships at Stanford’s Center for Internet & Society, Princeton's Center for IT Policy, and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He helped launch and manage ICANN, the Internet's technical coordinating organization, and has worked on Internet and telecom law reform projects in a number of developing countries. After clerking on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, he started his career as a lawyer in D.C., where he focused on appellate and constitutional litigation.

Illustration by Thomas James