By Renato Opice Blum

There has been considerable international discussion and debate about the so-called "right to be forgotten"—the right for people to have information removed about them, be it accurate or not, that was circulated on the Internet.

Technical issues aside, Brazil is still dragging its feet passing even basic legislation regarding the protection of personal data, and the issue regarding this right to be forgotten is beginning to grow in importance within the country. The issue was recently addressed by the 6ª Jornada de Direito Civil da Justiça Federal/2013, a Brazilian legal committee, which concluded that such a right would strengthen the protection of human dignity. The issue was analyzed in some depth and symbolically the STJ, the Brazilian Supreme Court for federal law infringements, took the position that this seems to be a trend in the country.

In any event, an analysis of this issue is far from simple. From the beginning we have faced a conflict between those that advocate the right to anonymity regarding intimacy, private life and social rehabilitation and those in favor of the unrestricted right to access information. On one hand, it is desirable to protect the private lives of individuals, while on the other it is necessary to guarantee that information of unquestionable public interest is always freely accessible.

Thus, material and public facts, whose effects directly impact society, need to remain accessible as they form part of the history of the nation. However, every person should have guaranteed to them the right that their personal life and information is protected.

Photos from college days, controversial views expressed during adolescence and events of everyday private life that ordinarily would fade with the passing of time should be removed if the subject so desires.

The situation becomes more complicated when information circulating on the Net finds its way into the news media, in publications, journals or in the comments or opinions of others. This is because, clearly, in any democracy, the freedom of the press, freedom of speech and expression are rights that, exercised responsibly, should be preserved. In the event that information is false, libelous or defamatory without doubt this must be withdrawn immediately or at least corrected where information is not false but exaggerated.

However, where uncomfortable but true facts in the public interest are published, criminal convictions, for instance, then it is necessary to reflect upon whether it is appropriate to be able to impact people's lives in this way ad infinitum.

Indeed, on one side we have veracity of the facts, right to information, freedom of the press and thought. On the other, the damaging consequence of indefinitely maintaining information about individuals and their families, despite their having perhaps paid for their wrongdoing as provided by the law, i.e., prison, other restrictions of liberty, payment of fines, etc.

It seems that Brazilian legislation has already provided guidance to resolve this issue. In the field of criminal law, the criminal code and criminal procedure make clear that the individual has the absolute right to rehabilitation and social reintegration. (Art.93 of the Brazilian Penal Code and art.748 of the Brazilian Criminal Procedural Code).

Those rehabilitated are afforded the right to confidentiality regarding individual records of prosecution and conviction. The criminal enforcement system must also provide conditions that allow for a more harmonious reintegration of offenders into society under Art.1 LEP, the Brazilian Sentencing Enforcement Code, the object being to reduce criminal reoffending.

Given that a fundamental principle of sentencing is ultimately to return those convicted to more productive lives in society, then in order to facilitate this, the right to forget previous wrongdoings should at least be understood.

Furthermore, Brazilian civil legislation also provides that the exercise of personal rights cannot be restricted (art. 11:12 - Civil Code), thus, in any situation, facts of the past, although true, can completely disappear from the future of a man or woman.

To conclude, although it is in the public interest that we have free access to certain types of information about people, it may often be more important that certain facts are overlooked, for the benefit of rescuing the dignity of individuals, who, left in peace, can get on with their lives.

Prof. Renato Opice Blum, attorney, economist and president of the IT Advisory Board of Fecomercio, received an MBA on Electronic Law Coordinator at Sao Paulo Law School and in the First Digital Law course of FGV/GVLaw in 2011. Blum is a professor at USP and Mackenzie; member of Octopus Cybercrime Community connected with Council of Europe; president of the Council of Security and Information Technology at Commerce Federation of São Paulo and of the American Chamber of Commerce Technology Law Committee; advisor for the Brazilian Bar High Technology Crimes Committee, and invited professor at multiple international programs. Blum is co-author of the “Manual of Electronic Law and Internet” and "Electronic Law: Internet and Courts."

Read More by Renato Opice Blum:
BRAZIL--BYOD Trend On the Rise, Rules Should Be Clarified
Brazil's New Law Is Not Tough Enough To Fight Electronic Crimes


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Spots Going Fast

With the top minds in the field leading this exceptional program, it's no wonder it's filling quickly. Register now to secure your spot.

Be Part of Something Big: Join the Summit

Registration is open for the Global Privacy Summit 2016. Discounted early bird rates available for a short time, register today!

Data Protection Intensive Returns to London

Registration is now open for the IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive in London. Check out the program!

P.S.R. Call for Speakers Open!

P.S.R. is THE privacy + cloud security event of the year, and you can take a leading role. Propose a session for this year's program.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»