Godwin on the Right to be Forgotten

The debates surrounding the Right to be Forgotten rages on and more and more names enter the arena, now we see Mike Godwin, the lawyer and EFF rep that coined the term Godwin’s Law give his two cents.

right to be forgotten

Photo: Lane Hartwell / Wikimedia Foundation

Godwin’s Law is the infamous rule that eventually every argument online will result in a Nazi comparison. The core belief though is that people say bad things online. Now since the European Court of Justice ruling, some people may be able to become “forgotten”.

The ruling has been a nightmare thus far for Google, receiving take down requests both trivial and serious, including corrupt politicians and organized gang leaders.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Godwin spoke about the free form nature of the Internet and people’s ability to freely publish, which he describes as “consciousness-changing” and now there’s a belief you can take something back (read: delete) unlike the hay day of print media, when something was out, it was out.

Godwin spoke also about the Catch 22 that Google now finds themselves in, comply and face criticism or reject and face the legal ramifications.

“They [Google] get a lot of grief on the theory that they’re overcomplying,” said Godwin. I don’t accept that argument. Number one, they would have gotten a hundred times more grief if they had undercomplied.”

“And number two, their commitments to transparency on other kinds of demands for takedown of content — for copyright, for information that might be unlawful, for wiretap orders — requires that they be consistent about this to the extent allowable by law. I think that’s really, really helpful.”

At the end of the day, Godwin makes it clear that he’s opposed to blanket nature of the Right to Be Forgotten ruling.

“But there are all sorts of things I regret, that I wish I hadn’t done. That doesn’t mean I think you should give me a time machine.”

Read the full interview.