The Right to Be Forgotten: Privacy Savior or Unworkable Solution? - Live Panel Discussion

Hosted by IEEE

30 September 2014 @ 2pm Eastern US

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In today’s connected society, many people fear that personal data privacy is dead. Social media platforms such as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. all require users to create online profiles and divulge personal information about themselves (accurate or not). Put social media aside; even simple internet users who have managed to avoid social media platforms are still vulnerable if they choose to use on-line services for shopping, email, or simply to browse. There is an underlying concept that users will eventually be logged in to some site at some time and this mere trend of ‘constant authentication’ aids in the tracking of users’ personal identifiable data and usage habits. So what can we do to defend ourselves against invasions of our privacy with regard to our digital identities?

In our last installment in this series on privacy, we touched upon this idea of data access control in the age of the Internet of Things but the European Union’s recent ruling on the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ legislation is making media headlines due to the challenges in implementation and enforcement.

What is the Right to Be Forgotten? The RTBF is a concept developed by the EU giving an individual the right to determine how his/her life should develop in an autonomous way without being perpetually stigmatized by actions performed in the past which are deemed irrelevant or outdated.

Although some people are keen to the EU’s concept of the Right to Be Forgotten, others are concerned about whether creating a right to be forgotten would decrease the quality of the internet through censorship and a rewriting of history. Europeans as well as other nations would be affected in the sense that searches on companies and individuals will present a different finding in different parts of the world. Additionally, the EU is now noting that enforcement of the right to be forgotten should be global – specifically beyond the EU jurisdictional borders. This presents a major challenge in data management versus legal authority at an international level.

The concept of the Right to Be Forgotten brings up many questions that we’ll seek to address in this panel, such as:

  • How does the Right to Be Forgotten impact Europe as well as other nations?
  • What technical and policy standards exist in the space and what standards might need to be initiated?
  • Should the Right to Be Forgotten fall under international human rights law?
  • Is it even possible to successfully implement and enforce the right to be forgotten?
  • What impact will the right to be forgotten have on Big Data?
  • What is the difference between an individual’s digital footprint vs. data shadows? How will these different traces of digital information be handled with take-down requests?
  • Can data really be permanently removed or just less easily accessible?
  • Should a politician be granted a request to have negative press about his time in office removed? Should a criminal be granted a request for links about his criminal record taken down?



Frédéric Donck is the Director of the Internet society’s European Regional Bureau, which has been created in January 2010.

Frederic’s overall responsibility covers public policy, technology, capacity building, membership and business development for the Internet Society in Europe. 
The main objective of the EU Bureau is to position the Internet Society as a leading global voice for the Internet in Europe, in particular through a strategic engagement with key policymakers, Industry, civil society and press/media.

Frederic has in-depth experience as a negotiator and advocate in the telecommunications and Internet industry, in both the public and private sectors.

During 10 years within the European Commission (DG Infso and DG Enterprise), Frédéric developed and advocated for numerous European policies and decisions in the convergent e-communications sector.

Before he joined ISOC, Frédéric was an adviser to corporate executives and boards in the telecommunications sector. He has designed overall public and institutional policy as well as corporate reputation campaigns for major listed companies, including several of the world’s largest electronic communications companies. He has also served during 5 years as a Board Member of ETNO, the European Telecommunications network operators’ association.

Frédéric holds a LLD (Law Degree), from the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve (UCL) as well as a Masters in European law (LLM) from the State University of Ghent (Gand), in Belgium.


John C. Havens is the Founder of The H(app)athon Project, a non-profit Foundation focusing on helping people identify, track, and improve their wellbeing via emerging technology and positive psychology. He is the author of Hacking H(app)iness - Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking it Can Change the World (Tarcher/Penguin, March 2014), a global speaker, consultant, and contributing writer for Mashable, Slate and The Guardian.


Steve Wilson is a researcher, analyst, adviser and inventor, dedicated to digital identity and privacy. For the past 19 years he has been deeply involved in authentication initiatives and frameworks across the Asia Pacific region, and leading the research and development of innovative new privacy enhancing technologies. He has been awarded nine digital identity patents. In 2013 Steve was appointed Vice President and Principal Analyst at Constellation Research.


Moderated by Joni Brennan Joni has over a decade of service to the IEEE Standards Association (SA) and Industry Standards and Technology Organization (IEEE-ISTO) as a Senior Program Manager. Joni builds diplomatic and collaborative relationships within and across communities of interest. She has provided talks on Identity Federation and Privacy across the globe, including for .SE, Federal Weekly, and CA Luminaries (one of a select chosen industry speakers). She participates in international organizations and industry standards committees including: OECD ITAC, ISOC, IEEE, OASIS SSTC, ISO SC27 WG5, and ITU-T SG17 Q6. She has served as the NSTIC / IDESG Trust Framework WG Chair. She has provided testimony regarding Trusted Identity and Access Management systems for the US Office of National Coordinator (ONC) Health IT Security and Privacy (HITSP) committee as well.

She leads Kantara Initiative as the premiere Trust Framework Provider facing multiple industry sectors. As a US ICAM Trust Framework Provider Kantara Initiative will provide Accreditation and Approval verifications for Identity Providers / Credential Service Providers to be deemed qualified for access to connect to the US Federal Cloud Credential Exchange. In addition, working with multi-stakeholder representation, Joni has help to ensure that the Kantara Initiative program is aligned with OpenStand principles and referenced in multiple eGovernment strategies including: Government of Canada, New Zealand, and Sweden.