Question of the Week

Should Personal Info on the Web Have an Expiration Date?

Google yourself. Everyone’s done it. Depending on how large a reputation you have or how common your name is, there could be a host of information out there with which you’d rather not be associated. There’s a whole online reputation management industry devoted to helping people weed through websites looking for unflattering comments or embarrassing info about themselves.

In Europe, this has led to a movement called the “Right to Be Forgotten.” Last week we posted about a court case in Spain where 90 individuals are demanding that Google stop indexing their names. The European Union justice commissioner is quoted as saying, “I cannot accept that individuals have no say over their data once it has been launched into cyberspace.”

A commenter on the story agreed. “At a minimum, there should be a formal mechanism whereby a private person can petition to have their name redacted off a website under certain defined conditions, and if the website does not comply, recourse could be had to some type of governmental agency,” wrote Joe.

Would it be feasible in the United States to devise a system to set expiration dates for personal information posted to the Web? Should there be a “right to be forgotten” on the Internet?

Answer in the comments.

Read last week’s question, “How Do You Get Through Overnighters at the Office?

Featured answer:

Posted by “Anon”: “Two words: ice cream. When the partner in charge realized it was going to be a long night, he went to the store and bought ice cream and all of the toppings—syrup, cherries, whipped cream, etc. There is nothing like a third bowl of ice cream at 4 a.m. to make the last push to finish the project. Sometimes the best topping is coffee.”

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