Doctor Wins "Right to be Forgotten" Case in Amsterdam

The rise of the Internet has produced many benefits and some problems. Among the problems is the frequently indelible pieces of partial information that tell only a part of the story and yet can cause harm to one’s profession. Consider, for example, the case of a Dutch surgeon whose medical license was preliminarily suspended. Details of the suspension became available right away in search engines. However, the suspension was only a single step in the multi-step process. It was eventually changed to a conditional suspension—an important difference. So the doctor brought suit and, in what may be the first so-called “right to be forgotten case” pertaining to alleged negligence by a physician, a court in Amsterdam ruled the surgeon had “an interest in not indicating that every time someone enters their full name in Google’s search engine, (almost) immediately the mention of her name appears on the ‘blacklist of doctors’, and this importance adds more weight than the public’s interest in finding this information in this way.”

Such rights to be forgotten are broader in the European Union. There are good reasons why residents of the United States should have similar rights to control their Internet profiles, particularly where the information is only a part of the story and can create a materially false impression.