Digital Memories and the Right To Be Forgotten


“He told me: I have more memories in myself alone than all men have had since the world was a world.” I was Funes, the character of a 1942 Borges short novel...but now I should be the web.
Our world become every day more virtual and digital oriented and the place where most of the information are searchable and available is the web.

The stuff as memories are done, now, are not dreams but bites.

Every society found its roots on memories and on technologies supporting it – before oral then written on a material support – and now? What will be the next?

We will left the heavy paper volume for the light cloud? Memories will be purely digital?
We have the perception everything is accessible hic et nunc... if not, is a broken link error.

But digital information brings new challenges and problems.

In the Orwell's book 1984 the suggestion is: 'who controls the past […] controls the future: who controls the present control the past.'

Who will be the controller , the ruler and the certifier of the e-memories?

How thin is the line between the freedom of speech and the individual rights? The right to be informed and the right to be forgotten?

The EU support the right to be forgotten as a citizen right.

If the Voltaire’s thoughts were summarized in Tallentyre's quote: ”I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” we will be able to defend also this right?


Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Official Journal C 83 of 30.3.2010.

European Commission. (2012) Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation), COM(2012) 11 final 2012/0011 (COD).

European Commission. (2010). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee of Regions. COM(2010) 609 final. A comprehensive approach on personal data protection in the European Union. Brussels, 4.11.2010

European Commision. (2011). Special Eurobarometer Attitudes on Data Protection and Electronic Identity in the European Union REPORT Fieldwork: November – December 2010 Publication: June 2011


Digital Memories and Scientific Governance: the role of Digital Memory Technologies in Research and Innovation Policies and Practices – an empirical study

This study, focusing the attention on the concept of “memories”, aims to analyse the impacts of new “digital technologies of memories” in research and innovation practices and in the processes of knowledge production and governance.

This study will consider the impacts of a ‘memory paradigm shift’ in the research and innovation work, including tools, practices and policies and will investigate how current knowledge-production processes are being redefined by recent technological developments in digital memory capture, storage and retrieval. The study will explore the socio-technical practices of memory-making and memory retrieval, and the varied technologies of data capture, data storage and information drawing particular attention to digital memory objects and technologies and the associated practices of creating, maintaining and using scientific digital archives.

Planned activities

A field study at JRC (exploratory focus group and questionnaires and interviews).

A paper.

RTBF Right to Be Forgotten

As highlighted in the Article 17 of the proposal for a Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) of the 25th January 2012 the right to be forgotten is becoming a legal and real possibility for the European citizen. The assumption that the web never forgets should change our approach and the way we disclose information in the net. But if Confucius suggest Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change, all of us can ask for a revision of information released when are no longer necessary. The knowledge reachable through internet is a stratified and the border between the individual right and the freedom of expression is sometimes hard to be identified.

This project will aim to investigate the ethical implications of the Article 17, to consider the necessities of the special needs people and will try to answer to the emerging questions on the “right to be forgotten” and “right to be remembered”.

Planned activities:

Workshop “Right to Be Forgotten: Ethical Considerations”, 12-13 November 2012.

Organisation of public consultation

Publications forthcoming

- Technical Report on on Right to Be Forgotten, Dec. 2012

- A Special Issue with Workshop’s contribution, March 2013.

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