Eugene Volokh discusses a proposal in New York to give people the right to have certain statements about them deleted from the internet if they are deemed ‘inaccurate,’ ‘irrelevant,’ ‘inadequate’ or ‘excessive.’
But the deeper problem with the bill is simply that it aims to censor what people say, under a broad, vague test based on what the government thinks the public should or shouldn’t be discussing. It is clearly unconstitutional under current First Amendment law, and I hope First Amendment law will stay that way (no matter what rules other countries might have adopted).
Remember: There is no “right to be forgotten” in the abstract; no law can ensure that, and no law can be limited to that. Instead, the “right” this aims to protect is the power to suppress speech — the power to force people (on pain of financial ruin) to stop talking about other people, when some government body decides that they should stop.
These new ‘rights’ are a real problem. The right to not be offended. The right to expect safe spaces. The right to never confront evil, or face emotional discomfort. The right to violent action to prevent a presentation with which you disagree. The right to demand that others use proper pronouns and descriptive words to describe you. The right to self-identify as Native American, black, male or female — regardless of clear contradictory evidence.
Oh, and the right to show another citizen’s tax returns on TV without permission.