RTDNA cautions Canada against 'right to be forgotten'

April 29, 2016 11:00

RTDNA, along with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other media organizations, filed comments with Canada's privacy commissioner regarding the possible introduction of a European-style "right to be forgotten" to Canadian law. The groups argue such a policy would unduly suppress public information and deprive citizens of their right to know.

In Canada, as in the United States, there is a presumption that information about public affairs should be available to the public, and that it can only be withheld when particular privacy interests outweigh a minimal or nonexistent public interest in that information. Recent court rulings in Europe have upended that principle, ordering internet search engines such as Google to make formerly public information inaccessible, not only to citizens of the country where the ruling was made, but worldwide, expanding censorship across international borders.

The letter reads in part, "Adoption of this European principle is fundamentally inconsistent with Canadian and international values of free expression. There must be a presumption in favor of public knowledge."

It goes on to say, "To forbid search engines from communicating with news organizations about truthful and lawful information that the media has every right to report on and the public has every right to receive is a restraint on speech that runs contrary to free expression guarantees in Canadian and international law and would suppress protected journalistic activities."

You can read the full letter here.