KCC starts talks on the right to be forgotten

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KCC starts talks on the right to be forgotten

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) held a conference yesterday to discuss legislation for the right to be forgotten, which allows people to have their personal information made unavailable online.

It is the first time the Korean government has brought up the right to be forgotten, which is being debated in Europe and the United States.

“I expect that a wide range of discussions at the conference will bring out a consensus on the right to be forgotten,” said the KCC Chairman Choi Sung-joon before the two-day 2014 Online Privacy Protection Conference began.

During the conference, experts will analyze the contents of the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruling on May 13 upholding the right to be forgotten to determine how it could be applied to current regulations or included in future legislation.

Europe’s top court ruled in favor of the right to be forgotten by upholding a complaint made by a Spanish man who objected to the fact that Google searches of his name brought up links to a 1998 newspaper article about the repossession of his home.

The ECJ stated that search engine operators are obliged to remove results if the information is inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which it was processed, even if the information was legally posted.

Professionals attending the conference yesterday presented proposals on whether they should modify existing laws to include the right to be forgotten or should establish a new law. Proposals included ideas on what should be included in the right, which has been disputed in Europe.

Chung Chan-mo, a professor at Inha Law School, said that the government should check if the right to be forgotten can be included in the current Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection.

“We need to consider the balance between the freedom of expression, the right to know, public order and morals and legal interests,” said Chung. “Allowing the removal of information of the past could constrain the possibility of the future Internet world and could hinder the sense of responsibility.”

Kim Kyung-hwan, a lawyer at the domestic law firm Minwho, said Article 36 of the Act on Promotion of Information, which deals with mediation of disputes, and Article 37 which concerns information material requests, could be expanded to include the right to be forgotten, but he believes creating a new law would be most effective.

“However, as the recognition of the right is likely to be debated continuously, new legislation to specify regulations as a clear basis for the right to be forgotten is necessary,” said Kim. “Also, in the legislation process, we must fully consider the controversial settings of limits.”

Baek Soo-won, a senior researcher at the Korea Internet and Security Agency, said an individual’s right to be forgotten in search results should be guaranteed, but he pointed out that the current law does not include the right.

“We need to first seek a social consensus on the right to be forgotten and review it before we establish a system to implement it through legislation,” Baek said.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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