24 October 2016
Applying the Right to Be Forgotten: IFLA Publishes Open Letter
Freedom of expression and freedom of access to knowledge are central to the work of libraries. With rapidly increasing volumes of information available online, search engines play a vital role in allowing library users to exercise these freedoms.
The right to privacy can justify limitations on these freedoms by removing certain links from search results. However, decisions on this ‘right to be forgotten’ need to be taken carefully and in a balanced way.
To help librarians understand the issues and engage with policy-makers, IFLA agreed and published a statement on this subject in February 2016.
There have been subsequent attempts to expand the impact of such judgements. Most notably, we have seen calls by the French National Commission on Information and Freedoms (CNIL) to apply right to be forgotten decisions globally.
Such an application would create a number of difficulties, not only professionally for librarians, but also legally and politically. This open letter sets out the issues from a library point of view, in order to inform and support ongoing discussions.
For more information, see IFLA’s background report on the right to be forgotten around the world, as well as the report from the workshop IFLA organised at the latest European Internet Governance Forum (EuroDIG).