This article was published on November 20, 2012

Facebook: Proposed EU ‘right to be forgotten’ raises “major concerns” over freedom of expression online

Facebook: Proposed EU ‘right to be forgotten’ raises “major concerns” over freedom of expression online

It’s no secret that Facebook has been lobbying against proposed European online privacy legislation, but now thanks to a Freedom of Information request made by the Europe vs Facebook campaign, we can see exactly what issues the company objects to.

Back in January this year, European Commissioner, Viviane Reding outlined proposals for a common set of data protection laws that would, among other things, introduce a ‘right to be forgotten’. This would mean that anyone should be able to delete all the data they’ve put into any online service at any time.

Facebook’s opposition to the legislation has been reported on previously, but the 11-page document shared by Europe vs Facebook [PDF link] reveals in detail exactly what the company objects to.

The document, dated 30 March 2012, states that the ‘right to be forgotten’ requires “careful consideration.” Facebook says (emphasis ours), “As drafted, it raises major concerns with regard to the right of others to remember and of freedom of expression on the Internet. There is also a risk that it could result in measures which are technically impossible to apply in practice and therefore make for bad law.”

Elsewhere, the company criticizes the principle of ‘privacy by default’, which is says “does not take into account the specific nature of social networking where the very reason that most people join is to share and connect with others.”

There are several more objections that Facebook makes in the document. It’s also worth noting that it welcomes some sections of the proposed legislation, including children as young as 13 being able to submit personal data online without parental consent.

While it’s easy to paint Facebook as a bad guy for speaking out against new data protection laws, the voice of social networks is important in considering any such legislation lest we end up with a clunkier, more frustrating version of the social Web thanks to overly zealous legislators in Brussels.

Coincidentally, today saw the release of a report by EU online security agency ENISA into the technical considerations for implementing a ‘right to be forgotten.’

Image credit: Getty Images

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