Legislation pushes for ability to "be forgotten" from the internet

By  | 

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A bill proposed in the state Senate would allow Iowans to request content on the Internet to be taken down if they don't like it.

A bill proposed in the state Senate would allow Iowans to request content on the Internet to be taken down if they don't like it. (KCRG File)

Senate File 2236, also known as the “Right to be Forgotten Act,” next heads to the Senate floor for debate.

Under the bill, a person who is unhappy with what is written online about them would have to prove the content is "inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate or excessive,” but it would exclude information that is related to criminal convictions or pending litigation involving violent crime, or matters of “significant current public interest,” which would stay online.

Someone could request the owner of a website or search engine, like Google, to remove certain content relating to them. The site owner then has 30 days to remove it or provide reasoning to the person who made the request on why they won't take it down. The state attorney general has oversight to determine if the website owner should indeed take down that content based on the requirements of this bill and can then penalize or fine websites that are in violation.

Sara Riley, an attorney at the Tom Riley Law Firm in Cedar Rapids, said that by including the attorney general on this bill, she believes it crosses a line and that the courts could determine it's unconstitutional if it becomes a law.

"Our First Amendment right to free speech is freedom from government interference from speech. In this legislation, the government is going to be interfering in speech,” Riley said.

Riley noted there are steps that people can already take to moderate their online reputations, including going through their own social media accounts and periodically deleting old online posts that are no longer relevant.