The Alleged Right to be Fogotten


A threat to freedom of expression

WHEREAS Colombia has seen an increase in the number of legal actions invoking what has been termed "the right to be forgotten" and seeking to have media-published content updated or removed, which undoubtedly curtails freedom of expression

WHEREAS a proposed law to create a national sexual offender registry in Colombia states that "all people who have been convicted in a final verdict have the right to be forgotten," which is an indirect recognition of such a right

WHEREAS a bill introduced—and subsequently withdrawn—in Panama's National Assembly would have allowed Internet users to demand that websites remove any information that they deem harmful to their image

WHEREAS Chile has also seen an increase in actions invoking the so-called right to be forgotten; in a particularly grave development, the Supreme Court ordered a media outlet to remove a news story about a convicted child molester; and bills have been introduced to give people the inalienable right to demand that their personal information be removed from published content

WHEREAS similar claims and measures are emerging in other countries, leading to greater problems and restrictions on companies that operate search engines and on media outlets, as described in a panel discussion held on Saturday, October 15

WHEREAS the Principle 1 of the Declaration of Chapultepec says: "No people or society can be free without freedom of expression and of the press. The exercise of this freedom is not something authorities grant, it is an inalienable right of the people".


To receive and approve the document titled "El derecho al olvido, una amenaza para la libertad de expresión" ["The right to be forgotten: a threat to freedom of expression"] prepared by the subcommittee formed at the Midyear Meeting in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, at the proposal of Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the Press Freedom Committee, and consisting of Asdrúbal Aguiar, Álvaro Caviedes, Carlos Jornet and Roberto Pombo.

To warn that the confusion over the ramifications of the "right to be forgotten" is beginning to translate to a dangerous encroachment on press freedom and freedom of expression as a result of court decisions, laws and legislative proposals that put the individual interest above the collective right to be informed and to preserve the historical record.

To reiterate that the "right to be forgotten" runs counter to tradition in the Americas pertaining to the need to keep alive the memory of a history of political and social violence, corruption and organized crime in many countries in the region; and that in this scenario, it is not only advisable but imperative that full freedom of expression be guaranteed, since a person's reputation, privacy and image can and must be protected through other legal avenues already in place.

To urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to rule, within a reasonable period of time, on the admissibility of a claim brought by the Chilean press association against the Chilean government over the Supreme Court ruling that ordered the removal of information of great public interest.

To send to the region's executive branches, parliaments and supreme courts copies of the aforementioned document and the amicus curiae brief submitted by the IAPA to France's National Commission on Information Technology and Freedoms, in a case that could require Google to delink websites on all of its domains throughout the world.