Americans would support “right to be forgotten”

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
June 02, 2014, 6:06 PM GMT+0

In Europe Google has been flooded with requests to remove data after Europe’s top court backed the “right to be forgotten.” The law allows European citizens to request that links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information be removed from search engines.

Although the rules only apply to Europe, Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of similar legislation in the US.

55% would support similar legislation compared to only 14% who would not. Those aged 35-54 (58%) and 55+ (57%) are more strongly supportive of this kind of legislation than Millenials (49%). Men (60%) appear to be stronger supporters than women (50%).

Financial Information of most concern: Content from ex-friends and partners also feared

Forty-two percent of Americans say they would like to remove information about themselves from web browsers. Although financial information was the most often cited cause of concern, many are also worried about content connected to ex-partners and former friends.

Americans are most interested in removing financial information, including bankruptcy judgments (35%), links to ex-partners or friends (29%), malicious content from former friends or partners (28%), and links to embarrassing pictures (28%).

The over 55s appear to be more concerned about financial information than Millennials who are mostly worried about embarrassing pictures (37%), however one in five of the over 55s (21%) are still worried about access to embarrassing pictures.

The “right to privacy” is the primary benefit to some form of “right to be forgotten” legislation in the US and is cited by 50%. Ability to remove links to false information (47%), and ability to remove links to malicious information or images (45%) were next most frequently cited benefits. 32% feel that people do silly things when they are younger and shouldn’t have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

Despite the US debate about the European legislation frequently centering on US First Amendment rights, only 17% believe that such a law would contravene our right to freedom of speech. The greatest disadvantages to this type of legislation were that it might start unnecessary censorship of the Internet (35%), or that it would be make it easier for criminals and fraudsters to operate (30%).

What type of material do you think you might wish to remove?

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Find the full results here.

Image courtesy of Getty