Over 50 per cent of Canadians believe in the ‘right to be forgotten’

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right to be forgotten
man and woman looking at cellphone / Shutterstock

It may seem like a strange concept, but the ‘right to forgotten’ exists in parts of the world.

In fact, the European Union grants citizens the right to request that search engines remove information about them that is outdated, inaccurate, or no longer relevant from search results.

And, according to a new study from the Angus Reid Institute, Canadians generally support  importing the doctrine.

The study found that over half of Canadians (51%) say they believe people should have the right to have certain information about themselves removed from search results. What’s more, a slightly larger number (56%) would support legislation enshrining the right to be forgotten in Canadian law.

Of course, opinions are divided between two long standing, recognized rights – the right to privacy and the right to free speech. With that being said, negative information may have a detrimental effect on someone’s life, and proponents of the legislation believe in the right to maintaining their privacy.

Over half of Canadians agreed with the following statement:

People should have a ‘right to be forgotten’ and have search results changed so this kind of negative information doesn’t dominate their online record forever.”

The rest either align themselves with the opposite position:

Internet searches are a form of public record, erasing negative information – even long past or no longer relevant – is still erasing history and facts” (26%) or are unsure how they feel (23%).

One of the key findings of the study is that younger people tend to have greater exposure with the negative aspects of online records.

“Younger respondents of both genders are more likely to have acquaintances who have had their reputations harmed by information available about them online,” reads the report.