Internet Identity and the Right to be Forgotten: International Trends and Regulatory Perspectives

Internet Identity and the Right to be Forgotten: International Trends and Regulatory Perspectives

Valentina Amenta (National Research Council, Institute for Informatics and Telematics, Italy), Adriana Lazzaroni (National Research Council, Institute for Informatics and Telematics, Italy) and Laura Abba (National Research Council, Institute for Informatics and Telematics, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8371-6.ch002


In this chapter, the analysis will focus on the concept of digital identity which is evolving and changing, based on the experiences that every individual lives. The chapter further highlights how the digital identity includes the fundamental human rights such as the right to a name, the right of reply, the right to protection of personal data and the right to an image. In translating the right to personal identity to our digitalized era, with its massive use of social networks, we have added to the related decalogue of rights the right to oblivion, equally called right to be forgotten. Given the complexity of the subject, the chapter develops an analysis of the actual international regulatory trends.
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1. Preliminary Considerations

The reflections that follow come from an overall view, the key issue in, on difficulties to identify what the right digital identity. Finding tiring and complex because of the difficulty to get to know the instrument in question; then that is itself the reason for the existence of this new law. After trying to define this right you will go to a careful and detailed analysis of one of the consequences that flow from it: the right to be forgotten. As we known, Internet is a strategic driver for the Information Society, designed by the European Community (EC), the objectives of social inclusion and participation, having implications on the very essence of the individual, stimulate the development of new theories regarding personal identity on the Web. In fact, the advent of the Internet has meant a revolution for the contemporary era, having given rise to an impressive series of changes in social life and, above all, in terms of social relations. If the use of the network was merely associated, some time ago, with website browsing in order to acquire information, now this common approach has radically changed.

Internet is no longer a conglomeration of websites independent of one another, but must be considered as a combination of technological capabilities reached by man in the dissemination and sharing of information as regards general knowledge. We can look to the Internet as an environment that enables a user to experience new forms of contact, relationship and personal expression, such as through the social networks, which have become not just beaches for curious tourists passing through, but a habitat in constant expansion. In this way, the digital media have become contexts of the utilisation of information, as well as alternative spaces to daily reality for the use of a great range of services. Their introduction has redefined the concepts of space and time and now reflects the very essence of the individual.

The goal, then, would be to put the e-individual at the center of the information society in order to avoid/limit their exclusion from the technological evolution, proposing models of interaction and use capable of guaranteeing universal access to content and services offered over Internet.

If it is true that the Internet stands as the greatest instrument of social inclusion, it is also true that sollava inievitabilmente profiles problematic about the very nature of the individual. The technology change our habits and our lives, but in the face of the many benefits accruing from the application of these new techniques are beginning to manifest “special situations” defined by some authors as psychotechnologies. The use of new equipment interacts with our psychic apparatus and for the first time in the history of mankind, man has invented a device that forces him to adapt to “his” way of “thinking”; the use of the personal computer requires a real mental adaptation to its operation and consequently pushes the subject to adjust their cognitive functions to operation of the machine. The use of the network and the various applications is able to determine an expansion and a wrong perception of the boundaries of the self. Caught in the vortex of social relations, desperately divide our limited attention, allowing fragments of our consciousness to every person or thing that requires our time. In doing so, we risk losing slowly in the network of our identity.

Internet was celebrated as the site of a utopian social space where age, gender and ethnicity would be infinitely re-writable, allowing the subject to experience postmodern forms of identity fluid and multiple. In the social web, where social processes are organized right on the network, users have the opportunity to express themselves and expose themselves. The widespread use and importance of social networks has shifted so the online identity to a more real, blurring the boundaries between online and offline. It should, however, from a fundamental question: what is digital identity? It is defined as the identity consists of a user at the online virtual communities, often of a playful, focused on a virtual dimension, as opposed to the real one. Real and virtual are not in opposition, they are not good and the bad, the positive and the dangerous, the safe and the uncertain, but two types of experiences, modeling, knowledge of different realities. Digital identity has subsequently adopted a more general meaning of social identity, which the user sets on the Internet, becoming synonymous with the online identity. While some people use their real names digital identity, others prefer to remain anonymous, identifying themselves by means of pseudonyms. The term avatar, which is used just to indicate a size of digital imagery, in which a user provides a fantastic representation of itself, is also of type visual.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Right to oblivion: A concept that has been discussed and put into practice in the European Union (EU) and Argentina in recent years. The issue has arisen from the desires of some individuals to “determine the development of his life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.

Digital Identity: Digital identity is the data that uniquely describes a person or a thing and contains information about the subject's relationships. The social identity that an internet user establishes through digital identities in cyberspace is referred to as online identity.

Marco Civil da Internet: Marco Civil is the law that governs the use of the Internet in Brazil.

European Union: The EU is an organization of supranational and intergovernmental, that from 1 July 2013 includes 28 member states independent and democratic.

Bill of Right: literally means a bill on the rights, but the term has come to mean the use of the Declaration on the Rights.

Google: Google is an American company that offers online services, primarily known for the search engine Google, the Android operating system and a set of Web services like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube.

Virtual Word: Virtual Word is a computer-based simulated environment. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of avatars visible to others.

Social Networks: A social network is a social structure made up of a set of social actors (such as individuals or organizations) and a set of the dyadic ties between these actors.

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