The Pursuit of Happiness in the Digital Age Using Bankruptcy and Copyright Law as a Blueprint for Implementing the Right to Be Forgotten in the U.S.
Citation: 106 Geo L.J. (2018)
Should your past mistakes—embarrassing photos, off-colored jokes, or mishaps with the law—live on the Internet forever? In this Note, I make the argument that the right to be forgotten is an American solution to the permanency of the Internet. I explain that the right does not limit free speech; rather, it diminishes the accessibility of information by raising the cost to obtain it. Critics often argue that such a right is un-American; however, the right is quintessentially American because it offers individuals an opportunity to be free from their past mistakes and avoid harm to their reputation. Just as declaring bankruptcy can act as a reputational albatross, so too can certain mistakes made during one’s life that are posted online—especially for adolescents and teenagers. Further, there are clear parallels between the value of one’s copyright-able work and one’s reputation—both are used to further opportunities and make a living. As the demand increases for an ability to remove information from the Internet, these perspectives on the right to be forgotten are descriptively helpful. They provide an analytical context to view the right within the scope of the First Amendment and facilitate fresh insights about modeling the right in America.