' Danielle Bernstein | MTTLR

Why the “Right to be Forgotten” Won’t Make it to the United States

In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) began to govern members of the European Union. The GDPR allows individuals the “right of erasure” — the ability to request erasure of personal data from the Internet. But the European Union’s top court recently stymied the regulation’s effect, ruling that search engine operators are not required to de-reference subjects globally. Thus, the potential spillover effects — i.e., the potential issue of whether a U.S. court ought to enforce a European de-referencing — won’t allow for a cascading privacy right debate to enter American discourse.   Also known as the “right to be forgotten,” erasure represents the tense intersection of the competing values of an individual’s privacy and of an information provider’s freedom from censorship. Despite censorship concerns, erasure has begun to gain support outside of the European Union; Argentina is the most recent country to implement similar regulations.   In the United States, given the country’s emphasis on First Amendment freedoms, it may seem unlikely that a court would ever recognize this right (much less so now that the EU has eliminated the international implications of its own law, as noted above). But as the public becomes more concerned with Internet privacy, in particular after numerous data breaches on social media platforms, a domestic cultural movement for the right to be forgotten may take hold. Consider that in 2017, New York state legislators introduced a bill that would require the removal of “inaccurate” or “irrelevant” statements — among other categories — from the Internet. (The bill didn’t gain traction.) Since then, news coverage has continued to highlight tech companies’ failures to self-regulate; such...