Right to be forgotten - how to remove your traces from the Internet?

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Internet access is a great boon, but also a significant threat. Over the years of surfing the cyberspace, we leave a lot of digital footprints behind us, especially if we use social media. In this way, harmful data can accumulate, damaging a good image in the eyes of outsiders, such as employers, for example. In addition, mentions about us sometimes appear in news websites or on blogs. Can this be avoided? The best way is, of course, prevention - we have already written about how to protect your privacy online. But what if the inconvenient data is already in cyberspace? How do I remove my traces from the internet? Do we have the right to be forgotten?

Right to be forgotten - how to remove Facebook content?

If you want to delete all your Facebook activity from a selected time - comments, posts, photos, videos - you can use special plugins for Firefox and Chrome. Here is the instruction:

  1. Download the appropriate plugin - Greasemonkey for Firefox or Tampermonkey for Google Chrome.

  2. Install the Facebook Timeline Cleaner script in it.

  3. Go to Facebook settings and uncheck Secure login in the security options. Log out.

  4. Log in again from http://facebook.com (note the lack of https in front of the address!).

  5. Go to the Activity Log on your profile, the Clear timeline button will appear on the left side. Press it and select what and from what period you want to remove.

How to delete social media accounts?

A very effective way to obliterate your online traces is to remove accounts from social media sites, blog sites, auction sites, browser games and other places that require logging in and leaving data. You can do it one by one, but it is better to use the Just delete me services, which collects direct links to the deletion pages of several dozen websites. It should be noted that some items have the annotation IMPOSSIBLE - usually it means that a given profile is associated with another account (e.g. Google or Facebook) and its separate deletion is impossible. Therefore, it is always worth reading the regulations carefully before registering.

The right to be forgotten - how to use it?

In May this year, the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg forced Google to respect the so-called right to be forgotten. From now on, every citizen of EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein can ask the company to remove from search results (also YouTube, Picasa and Google+) indicated links to "out of date or irrelevant" content, which in some way violate the good image of an internet user. This can be, for example, old information about seizure by a bailiff - when there is no information in the network that the debt has already been repaid. The processing time varies, so be patient.

Unfortunately, the right to be forgotten is only a substitute for what people who oppose the omnipotence of Google over the processing of personal data of hundreds of millions of people expect. The provision does not apply outside the European Union countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein - users from outside the Old Continent will easily find the content hidden under the right to forget. In addition, you have to remember that no information completely disappears from the web. They are removed from the search results, which of course makes it difficult to find them.

Five months have passed since the announcement of the ECJ judgment. Google has provided official statistics on requests for the application of the right to be forgotten: almost 150,000 reports, of which only 42% were found to be justified. In Poland, the statistics are as follows: 3,700 applications, only 34% approvals. This is the result of the company's arbitrariness in considering requests - Google is creating itself as a defender of freedom of speech and the universal, public right to information. It is up to him to judge which information is "out of date or irrelevant" and which is not. In defense of his arguments, he cites an example of a request to remove links from a Swiss financier convicted of embezzlement, there were also mentions in the media about a pedophile who wanted to hide the fact of receiving a penalty for his crimes. The right to be forgotten is therefore about the great dilemma that emerged with the advent of the Internet age: which is more important, the protection of personal data or the right to information?