There is a history podcast that I listen to (mostly in my car). In addition to telling me little-known stories about famous rulers, the podcast also spins tales about lesser-known figures. Sometimes the details that are included astound me - what people ate, how they spent their free time and even the exact reasons for their deaths. (It seems there are a lot of historians and even forensic scientists who study past lives to figure out how people died.)

But occasionally, the history podcast will say something like "this person faded into obscurity," and I find myself surprised that it isn't said more often. I enjoy the level of details recorded and pieced together on ordinary citizens: Government records, letters, journals and newspapers all hold clues to that person's life.

Of course, today, we have social media and blogs to provide intricate details of our daily lives to whomever wants to read them. But what if you want your details erased? What if you want to be the person who fades into obscurity? Is that possible today?

It doesn't look likely in the U.S., but it does look like a possibility for citizens in the European Union, where the right to privacy is under stricter protection. Earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ordered links leading to articles on the foreclosure and auction of a Spanish man's home be stricken from Google's search engine.

I am really intrigued by this idea, which is often referred to as the right to be forgotten. Shouldn't we have more control over our personal data, including its deletion? Of course, I'm not referring to the data used in background checks or run-ins with the law, but more along the lines of the content we put online once, but wished we hadn't.

What links would you want to see stricken from a search result connected to your name? (You don't have to share that answer with me in the comments.) But, I'd like to know what you think - what personal data would you want to have access to and what should remain public?

Views: 17

Tags: history, media, social

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Comment by Lauren Markman on May 21, 2014 at 9:00pm

I think we should have more control over our own data - sometimes I get really creeped out by the amount of information that is available on me and my family - information that I didn't put out but has been collected by other groups around me.

Comment by Marcia Fowler on May 20, 2014 at 5:58am

I don't think much personal info should be public.  Info like a foreclosure? Yes. Info to do with housing, yes. But not pictures of my house on google maps. I feel for anyone trying to stay safe from an abusive spouse or anyone trying not to be found for their own safety. And I get annoyed that my age is public (I'm that old mom to a young kids and a trying to fool the neighbors into thinking I'm younger. ha ha But now they know). Also, I'm not so good at gardening so why advertise it on the internet? What do you think?

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