For the Right to Remove Personal Information on Search Engines in the U.S. Campaign - #Right2Remove




About the Right to Remove

The Right to Remove is a campaign for an Internet privacy policy that allows for the removal of character-damaging information from the Internet. The Right to Remove policy identifies straightforward categories of sensitive information that should be eligible for de-indexing from Internet search engine results. Our aim is to help to remove personal and stigmatizing pictures, records, and links from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

Videos introducing the Right to Remove


Everyday people and vulnerable individuals’ personal information shouldn’t be available on search engines because it violates their dignity, security, and right to privacy.

The Right to Remove is similar to such concepts as the Right to Be Forgotten, Right to Obscurity, Right to Delete, or Right to Relevancy. However, the Right to Remove privacy policy utilizes a more targeted approach by specifying categories of personal information eligible for deletion and by identifying vulnerable populations that suffer disproportionately from online character damage. In short, the Right to Remove adapts and improves the principles embodied by the Right to Be Forgotten, creating a crucial privacy and consumers right in the United States that balances the freedom of speech with the right to privacy.



 Right2Remove’s mission and principles

What the Right2Remove IS:

1) The Right2Remove advocates for legislation that allows for the removal of content from Internet platforms that is designed to cause reputational harm to consumers in the United States. The Right to Remove privacy policy focuses on specific categories of sensitive personal information that should be removed to preserve individuals’ dignity and security, such as: information about victims of abuse, threats, exploitation, slander, stigmatization, identity theft, and leaks of personal data. See the full list of specific categories of sensitive information included in the Right to Remove privacy policy below.

2) The Right2Remove advocates for widespread application of consumer reporting laws, specifically the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to data aggregators, search engines, social media, and Internet platforms engaged in misinformation.

3) The Right2Remove advocates for the amendment of CDA 230, so victims of web-based consumer protection violations can hold search engines and platforms responsible for the dissemination of illicit, harmful, and misleading content.

4) The Right2Remove advocates for the establishment of an independent review panel for adjudicating consumer protection violations on the Internet. Neither the FTC nor Google (or any other search engine) are impartial parties, being guided respectively by lobbies and private interest.

5) The Right2Remove advocates for the regulation of the advertising-based monetary model utilized by search engines and social media platforms, which manipulate the significance of online information and its contexts.

6) The Right2Remove advocates for a data privacy law that adapts Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation for use in the United States. Such a law should include:  clear opt-in and opt-out options for data collection; access to all personal data collected; ability to correct inaccurate information, and to erase outdated or unlawful material; the right to object to processing of data for marketing purposes and to restrict the processing of personal data; capacity for data portability; and the capability to request data be processed by natural persons instead of computers.

7) The Right2Remove advocates for the establishment of an independent review panel that monitors data aggregators, search engines, and web platforms’ data handling practices and audits them on a continual and ongoing basis.

8) The Right2Remove advocates for the establishment of an independent review panel tasked with oversight and creation of a transparent framework for disclosing tech companies’ trade secrets, algorithms, aggregation methods, and, rating and editing practices.

9) The Right2Remove advocates for legislation that protects all criminal justice information on the Internet—criminal records, mugshots, and court dockets — from data aggregators. The Right2Remove advocates for removal of information from all public archives about arrests in which the defendant was determined not-guilty or the case was dismissed.
 

What the Right2Remove is NOT:

1) The Right2Remove does not advocate for the removal of information from individual websites and online archives that is not misleading, harmful, or damaging to consumers.

2) The Right2Remove does not advocate for the elimination of background checks. Background checks that adhere to consumer protection laws, such as the FCRA, should continue protect our communities, workplaces, and schools.

3) The Right2Remove does not advocate for the censorship of non-public figures in the public commons. Citizens engaged in civil or uncivil dialogue on the Internet should not be censored so long as their speech doesn’t infringe upon consumer protection laws or overstep into traditional speech torts, such as slander, harassment, hate speech, or discrimination.

4) The Right2Remove does not advocate for the censorship of newspapers or broadcast news media. However, we believe archived collections of data on consumers, such as the data currently compiled by search engines, should not be indexed on the Internet, if it should produce discrimination, harassment, and stigmatization.

5) The Right2Remove does not advocate for the removal of sensitive information about public figures, government entities, private corporations, or anything in the public interest.

6) Although we support their reform initiatives, the Right2Remove does not advocate for the injudicious removal of sensitive information about sex offenders from the Internet. We recognize reform as the only means by which reincorporation into the community can possibly occur. We recognize sex crimes occur on a spectrum. We believe these two premises should drive reconsideration of questions such as who belongs on sex offenders registries and for how long.





The Right2Remove Organization

The Right2Remove is run by activists for Internet privacy and civil rights.

Director: Scott Philotoff
Founder: Paolo Cirio

Advisory board:
- Sarah Esther Lageson
- Dan Shefet

Partners:

Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy
.
Organizational Status disclosure: currently the Right2Remove is an independent and informal organization, it never received any funding from any company or institution. It has been mainly run by volunteers. Please consider to donate via PayPal.

Archive Press Releases:
June 2018; October 2018.



The Right to Remove is supported by Internet rights activists and organizations, privacy lawyers and law firms, consumers rights organizations and legislators.
See Right2Remove’s Partners and Endorsements Here






Why the need for the Right to Remove Internet Privacy Policy

Online privacy has increasingly become a concrete social issue that impacts families and communities across the United States. Phenomena such as online harassment, bullying, blackmail, shaming, and hate speech affect the most vulnerable among our population, who often do not have the financial and technical means to defend themselves. Due to the stigmas attached to certain information being available online, basic human dignity is infringed upon, because we leave the afflicted at the mercy of data aggregators, extortionists, and online mobs. Search engines have emerged as the gatekeepers of malicious information online. This is why several countries around the world have introduced the so-called Right To Be Forgotten law, which even if not yet perfected, allows for the removal of sensitive information from search engine results. In the United States, there has been a lack of conversation and understanding concerning this fundamental privacy right. Furthermore, search engine companies, social-media platforms, and major media conglomerates use their public-relations armies to polarize public opinion and to avoid regulation rather than find practical solutions. To tackle this issue, the campaign Right2Remove is specifically designed to address the need for a basic Right To Be Forgotten policy in the United States and to provide a remedy to U.S. consumers for removing sensitive information from search engine results.

In particular, the Right to Remove policy is designed to help vulnerable individuals, such as victims of injustice, violence, harassment, economic inequality, racism, abuse, and stigmatizing humiliation. Our platform is for those who cannot afford legal and technical solutions, such as those under pressure from personal relationships, state apparatuses, and financial difficulties.

Right2Remove’s urgency has been spurred by the need to raise awareness about the online harassment of women, those in the LGBTQ community, and vulnerable individuals. There have been several suicides due to bullying and revenge porn. Forms of racism and hate speech expressed on the Internet have been known to trigger physical violence. And public criminal records produced by mass incarceration unfairly stigmatize already marginalized groups. Search engine firms and the legal instruments available currently do not handle these situations properly.

On the one hand, regulators and legislators should take a more active and central role in this legal and ethical debate. On the other hand, Internet search engine companies need to be open to a public negotiation and finding workable solutions. We need more sophisticated technical processes to better handle data, flag information as sensitive, obfuscate subjects, remove data from search engines, and a right for consumers to request updated contextual information. Moreover, releasing more information about the volume, character, and classification of removal requests would benefit the public and help inform information policy. Search engines, data processors, controllers, and brokers should apply data protection principles in a more intelligent and ethical way. The Right to Remove privacy policy should be coupled with corporate and administrative transparency as well as detailed guidelines to minimize indiscretion and arbitrariness.




Categories of stigmatizing and personal information

Criminal Justice
About Minors
Intimacy
Free Expression
Health
Financial and Personal Security
General Abuses


None of this information should be searchable on search engines under an individual’s name.
This right applies only to private citizens and not to businesses, public entities, or public figures.





How the Right2Remove website helps you

The interactive services of the Right2Remove website aim to build empathy and community by providing practical tools for the affected individuals, lobbying for legal changes, and resolving the cause of suffering.

Tools for sharing experiences.
The “Tell” form is designed to share personal experiences and stories concerning the need for a Right to Remove privacy policy. This online platform will be central in connecting affected people, who are currently isolated across the country. Therefore, it will grow the community behind the campaign. It will offer community members the potential to gather for mutual support, to participate in therapeutic groups, and to discuss practical solutions. It will also facilitate the process for organizing demonstrations and protests, energizing fundraising and lobbying efforts, and meeting with officials from the Federal Trade Commission and members of Congress.

Tools for removing search results.
The “Remove” form automatically creates and sends legal letters to search engines asking for the removal of personal sensitive information from their results. The automated takedown letter will directly empower those who cannot afford legal assistance or do not know where to submit their complaints. This simple form includes only the category of sensitive information; thus, it is specifically designed to help vulnerable populations. With the collaboration of lawyers and search engine companies, we will develop the form into a streamlined process for submitting legal complaints with specific URLs for removal from search results, making the procedure fast and efficient.

Tools for supporting affected individuals.

The "Support" form will allow advocates, lawyers, therapists, consumers, and privacy rights organizations to support affected individuals with specialized knowledge and hands-on advocacy.  Advice, laws, technical tools, legal devices, and psychological counseling will then be provided directly to affected individuals through the "Remove" tools. The Support form is designed for submitting legal advice, suggesting legislation that can be used for generating takedown requests, and promoting strategies for maintaining a healthy mentality in the face of adversity. Other options for support include submitting technical tutorials or simply providing emotional support to affected individuals.

Petition for the Right to Remove.

The Right to Remove privacy policy petition form will allow supporters and members to be proactive by signing on our initiative. Our vision is to have congress introduce a simple and workable bill, which could then be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission or an independent review panel. Our petition for the Right to Remove legislation should garner the support we need to provide our citizens with the privacy protections they deserve.


Some recent legal resources in the U.S. for the Right to Remove


Laws for online privacy and removal inquiries:
https://www.withoutmyconsent.org/50state
Laws for online privacy and removal inquiries:
https://www.cybercivilrights.org/related-laws/
Laws for general online privacy:
https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/state-laws-related-to-internet-privacy.aspx
Laws about the publication of Sexually explicit material::
https://www.cybercivilrights.org/revenge-porn-laws/
Laws about the publication of Mugshots:
https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/mug-shots-and-booking-photo-websites.aspx
Laws about Cyberbullying:
https://cyberbullying.org/bullying-laws
https://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html
https://www.endcyberbullying.org/cyber-bullying-laws-legislations


Some recent Legal Development in the U.S. for the Right to Remove

In 2015, California recently enacted the “eraser button” law that requires operators of online services to allow minors to remove content they have posted on the service.
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB568

In 2015, Blumenthal, Markey, Whitehouse, and Franken introduced legislation in the Senate to ensure transparency and accountability in the data broker industry. The bill can be tracked under code S.668 and the title Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act. However, the bill only addresses the trade of data between brokers and does not specify search engine results.
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/668/all-info

In 2015, 26 states already have Revenge Porn Laws. Mary Anne Franks, who drafted the model legislation and advised legislators in the majority of the states, emphasizes that many of these laws are still deeply flawed. Franks announced that she is working with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) on a federal criminal bill.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge_porn#United_States


In 2015, Consumer Watchdog, a consumers’ rights organization, sent a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an open letter describing Google’s failure to offer the “Right to Be Forgotten” in the United States, as unfair and deceptive.
https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/privacy-group-asks-ftc-to-bring-europes-right-to-be-forgotten-to-the-us.html

In general, the Federal Trade Commission has brought legal actions against organizations that have violated consumers’ privacy rights, or misled them by failing to maintain security for sensitive consumer information. In many of these cases, the FTC has charged the defendants with violating Section 5 of the FTC Act, which bars unfair and deceptive acts and practices in or affecting commerce. In 2015 the FTC’s Commissioner Julie Brill called for the introduction of a Right to Obscurity in the U.S.
https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/righttoobscurity.pdf


Background of the legal notion of the Right to Remove.

In the United States:

Historically, the legal notion can be tracked from U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis, who called it "the right to be let alone" in 1890 with the definition of "the Right to Privacy."

In the U.S. Constitution, some amendments provide certain protection; however, it’s not explicitly stated as the right to privacy. The 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments could be referred for the Right to Remove personal information from search engines.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) was enacted in 1970 to address increasing concerns in the 1950s and 1960s over the amount and type of sensitive information held by credit reporting agencies.

As a result of the 1989 case U.S. Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the United States Supreme Court recognized a privacy interest in "practical obscurity."

Torts for Defamation and Invasion of Privacy are common legal litigation models in states without specific laws on privacy rights. They are exercised through lawsuits alleging invasion of privacy, public disclosure of private facts, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against individuals. A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a civil wrong that unfairly causes someone else to suffer loss or harm resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act.

With expungement rights, some states permit individuals, who are arrested, but not convicted, to expunge their arrest records. In other words, to make them unavailable through the state or Federal repositories. Other states permit some convicts to apply for expungement after time has passed from the completion of their sentences.


In Europe:

This legal notion has its roots in the original French concept of the right to oblivion (droit à l'oubli).

The European Convention on Human Rights, adopted in 1953, explicitly introduced the right to “respect for private and family life.” The right to privacy is defined by the European Convention on Human Rights, article 8 and the Declaration on Human Rights, article 12.

In 2006, the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg ruled that personal data should be removed from search results with a person’s name when outdated, inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or devoid of purpose, and when there is no public interest. This proclamation was in reference to the so-called Right to Be Forgotten law.


Contacts, Support, and Press for the Right to Remove

Contact email

Write us for support if anything is unclear or for anything you need. Tell us how you would like to participate. Or if you have any helpful ideas for our campaign!

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Send an Inquiry

Submit questions, concerns, and ideas with a form. For journalists and media outlets: ask us for an interview with the organizers, lawyers, and affected individuals.

Inquiry

Press Material

Find the press material and kit with images and videos. On Dropbox you can find media material in high definition for press coverage or to promote the campaign.

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Get involved with the Right to Remove campaign

Sign the Petition

For a simple and workable federal bill to be introduced to Congress and enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. Via Change.org you can sign the petition and follow its development.

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Join the Campaign

For Volunteers, Organizations, Activists, Lawyers, and Affected Individuals: join the friendly group behind the campaign across the country. Via Mobilize.io you can participate in dedicated groups.

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