Some of us long for the days of wraparound privacy—the days before anyone with a computer could sneer at embarrassing photos of us, or dismissive remarks about us, that someone else has posted. The days before Google let everyone discover past blunders we thought had mercifully escaped censure. Now comes what we’ve been yearning for—“the right to be forgotten”—and it’s a double-edged sword.

A European High Court judge recently rendered a landmark decision that will allow Europeans to ask search engines to erase unflattering links to their names. We privacy mavens should rejoice; this idea might someday spread to America! But here’s the thing, as Danny Hakim reports in The New York Times:

“Historically, many [privacy] requests have been aimed at blocking wider access to what many would view as part of the public domain [like court proceedings]. . . . The tech industry has portrayed the decision as a blow against the free flow of information on the web and a victory for those who want to cover up past misdeeds—including pedophiles, corrupt politicians and unscrupulous businesspeople.”

A troubling prospect. So . . . even for privacy buffs . . . the issue’s complicated.  Read More at The New York Times. 

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  • Bettijane Eisenpreis June 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    When I was in my 20’s, an acquaintance was visiting in my home town of Wilkes-Barre, PA, and I took her uptown to “the hotel” (there was only one reputable one) for lunch. As soon as we entered the dining room, an elderly lady beckoned me imperiously to her table. “I saw your husband riding in a car this morning with another woman,” she announced triumphantly. “I know,” I replied. “My mother drove him to work this morning.” The visitor was shocked. “?How can you live in a fishbowl like this?” she exclaimed. So I guess I am not as shocked by today’s lack of privacy as I might be. I, and many others who grew up in small communities, have had training.