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The right to be forgotten - can PR truly deal with data?

Image credit: <a href=''>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>This week's ruling by the European Union's Court of Justice that stressed individuals have the 'right to be forgotten' will inevitably cause Google some serious headaches. But they will not be alone. Public relations practitioners too will need to determine who among their stakeholders will need to be 'forgotten' following this decision.

The EU court ruling has far reaching consequences. For instance, if it is my right to be forgotten then should all saved tweets be destroyed at my request? My Facebook comments eliminated? Any Snapchat screen shots destroyed?

Will organisations have to present to their stakeholders any and all information held on them from direct or indirect sources?  If an organisation has been listening to its communities and monitoring social networks will they now have to ensure that ongoing checks were made in case Google has been asked to delete particular information on an individual? At what point in the relationship cycle do we become 'data controllers' - as Google was described by the court? And, for the new breed of data journalists, where will the line be drawn between controller and investigator?

I don't believe that public relations and communication management practitioners have got to grips with the use of data as yet. Some have dabbled, others are exploring, but by-and-by most are oblivious to the discussions around this topic.  Sooner rather than later the use of the data we now gather - its storage, application and availability - and where it sits against existing laws concerned with data protection and privacy will have to be determined.

There are more questions than answers delivered by this ruling - and they are questions for all of us to address with some urgency - not just Google. 

Image Credit: Lightwise - 123RF