Apr 302016
 April 30, 2016  Laws, Non-U.S., Online

Canadian privacy lawyer David Fraser has an OpEd in Globe and Mail about why any right to be forgotten (RTBF) law in Canada would not be a good idea. He writes, in part:

It is not surprising that the Privacy Commissioner wants to discuss whether our laws include or should include such a right. While it is an important discussion to have, the answer is very likely no: We cannot shoehorn such a right into our current privacy laws and any new laws would not withstand a Charter challenge. But even if the government were inclined to try, the European model should be off the table for a range of reasons.


If you cannot pass a law that requires a media outlet to remove content, you similarly cannot pass a law that prohibits a search engine from telling the public that it exists. Doing so would legally compel a search engine to lie to you when you are looking for content, and would be the same as prohibiting a librarian from telling you about a book that is still on the shelves.

Read more on Globe and Mail.


  4 Responses to “Opinion: Canadians shouldn’t have an online right to be forgotten”

  1. I don’t think I agree with him. There needs to be a better balance than just saying “no”. But perhaps it just my muddled thinking or weird way of looking at it?

    Let’s look at a couple of situations.
    1. Selfies taken with stolen Kindle show up in cloud

    -Apparently the kid in the picture stole an smart phone
    -pics upload to the cloud with moms face after church
    -Media runs with the woman’s face and headline of stolen phone.

    What’s the effect on the mother? her friends? Her church going friends? Her reputation with the headline and face?

    2. Who’s been taking selfies on my phone?

    One the the kids here just bought phone off of kijiji.ca, and stolen items end up there very often.

    Will my kids face be on CBC news and being called a tramp who stole a phone like the above article does to a woman w/o knowing the full details? What’s the effect of her reputation? Future job opportunities? The ridicule? The corporate profiting off the cheesy headlines, tabloid trash click-bait, and ridicule?

    I don’t see it as black and white as he does. But maybe it’s just me. I don’t see a lot of fault with the EU way in certain situations.

    • Did you really just use the “balance” word? Seriously?

      I’ll have to think about your comments after I get over my dismay that THAT WORD should show up here. 🙂

    • Your examples really don’t relate to right to be forgotten. They relate to reputation management where the individual never did anything wrong but their name showed up online or in headlines. I see that as different than saying Google should no longer show search results for my name where I was in court 12 years ago for blahblahblah.

      • -“I see that as different than saying Google should no longer show search results for my name where I was in court 12 years ago for blahblahblah.”

        Perhaps you are correct. I have not thought of the variables and was thinking off the cuff, and looked at the content generator: “media outlets”. Even when thinking of just search engines (or caches or archives) and court records I still do not see it as black and white.

        Website that generates revenue by republishing Canadian court decisions and allowing them to be indexed by search engines contravened PIPEDA

        Ref para’s 26-32:
        It’s hard not to equate RTBF and reputation together. They are intertwined. The “neutral” platform (google for example) is not the source, agreed. But it divulges nonetheless.

        Ref para’s 81-82:
        If the source is unreasonable, what about the info found in google, google cache and other? Is it reasonable for it to remain? Is it reasonable for it to profit off the info? Is it reasonable that it remain available in perpetuity? I would think not. Ref para 85-88

        I think it all comes down to what the content is maybe, and that is not black and white.

        Then there is the “online legacy” issue… Is there a RTBF with these situations? I would think so. Fast-forward to the year 2035 and we find the ramblings of grandma as her mental health declined due to a hereditary degenerative brain disease she blabs about on google or similar, or, court documents describing the same (think insurance companies). It is no longer grandma requesting a RTBF but the daughter (perhaps for health insurance purposes or other).

        In the other hand, I am thinking of the Newton case where all he posted was a link on a platform similar to a footnote, but, this is not a case similar to google that provides more info than just a link…

        I don’t see it black and white. RTBF encompasses a whole gamut of things. It is not just the “now” in the present, it follows death, It is not just court doc’s. It includes reputation, legacy, and more. Nor are search engines, in many cases, “just a link”.

        As usual, you provided a lot of food for thought. hmm..

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