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Interview mit Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Interview mit Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

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Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, faculty affiliate with Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center, is the Oxford Internet Institute's Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation. His research at the University of Oxford focuses on the role of information in a networked economy. He is on the academic advisory boards of corporations and academic institutions, including Microsoft. has published seven books, including most recently Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Princeton University Press 2009) and Governance and Information Technology (MIT Press 2007).

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger: “We have not understood the importance of forgetting”

Is the right to be forgotten still (or more) relevant?

It is more relevant than ever before as cheap digital storage, easy retrieval and global digital networks make forgetting harder than ever before in human history.

How should we go about legislating for such a right?

What is important is to understand that the core of the right is not an absolute liberty of an individual to force others (including society) to forget, but that the core must be to mandate from those institutions which remember that they provide abilities for those who are remembered to have a say in how long that remembering lasts. It is a societal question as to whether and to what extent individual preferences are to be taken into account depending on context.'

Who "saves" members of social networks from the mechanisms of those very networks (access to information)? Or do social networks need to be protected from overeager states?

Whether or not social networks need to be protected from overeager states is not a question of remembering or forgetting. Social network platforms are institutions of remembering – as such, they must have a duty to provide mechanisms to the people who are remembered which will give them say in how long they are being remembered.

What are the biggest gaps in human rights protection online?

That we have not understood the importance of forgetting.

Do you think privacy is better protected by human rights law, or by greater sensitivity and data awareness on the part of the user?

Privacy has little to do with remembering / forgetting. Empirically, we know that neither individual rights nor awareness are particularly successful, so answering the question I would say neither.

Sherry Basta
Sebastian Haselbeck
Sherry Basta
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