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LIVE DEBATE: The "Right to be Forgotten" as a Civil Right

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 11/20/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,466 times Debate No: 65583
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (25)
Votes (3)





Thanks so much to Zaradi for fitting this into his schedule and for agreeing to participate. I am looking forward to doing a legitimate LD round again!

The voting floor is set at 2000 ELO. Please do not vote unless you have some rudimentary (or better) familiarity with LD.

Full Topic

That the "right to be forgotten" from internet searches Ought to be a Civil Right

Non-Live Debate Structure

R1. Acceptance
R2. Con posts a Video-recording of the Live Debate; Pro posts his Constructive Case
R3. Con posts his Constructive Case; Pro types: "No round as agreed."

Live Debate Structure

6min - Aff Constructive (AC)
3 - Neg CX (1CX)
7 - Neg Constructive and First Rebuttal (NC/1NR)
3 - Aff CX (2CX)
4 - Aff First Rebuttal (1AR)
6 - Neg Second Rebuttal (2NR)
3 - Aff Second Rebuttal (2AR)

w/ 5 minutes of prep time each to use at their discretion


1. No "kritiks" or "theory"
2. Debaters must go at a reasonable speed (this is at the judges' discretion)
3. A value and a criterion must be offered or agreed upon--no non-V/C standards are allowed
4. No flex prep
5. Debaters must have, upon their opponent's request, citations for their sources which contain roughly all that a regular MLA citation might. Citations can be exchanged in=between speeches (with no loss of prep), over DDO PMs, in the comments sections of this debate, or read out loud into the video.
6. Debaters must post transcripts of their constructive cases (though not rebuttals) into this debate for the voters' convenience; relevant citations should be included in the body of the round in which the case is posted.
7. Violation or non-acceptance of any of the above rules, structure, or terms merits an auto-loss.

Thanks... Zaradi for this debate! I am looking forward to getting my feet wet again :)


Leave it to bsh to type an opening statement with rules that's as long as a case.

I accept, of course.
Debate Round No. 1


Also, as a sidenote, YYW and I agree Zaradi is really cute.


I affirm and value morality.

Morality isn’t an appeal to an overreaching normative structure but rather the ethical dilemma of whether we are obligated to assist is a decision of temporal finitude however that moment is haunted by a trace of time – the past violence and non-violence and the future possibility of lesser violence and greater violence. From this trace we find that ethics is defined by the relation to the Other that we must respect. Hagglund 1:

Hagglund 10 (Hagglund, Martin. “The Non-Ethical Opening of Ethics: A Response to Derek Attridge”, Edingburg University Press, October 28th, 2010.)

  • “The structure of the trace follows from the constitution of time, which makes it impossible for anything to be present in itself. For one moment to be succeeded by another moment … every temporal moment ceases to be as soon as it comes to be and must therefore be inscribed as a trace in order to be at all. The trace enables the moment to be retained, since it is characterised by the ability to remain in spite of temporal succession. … It is this irreducible dependence on and exposure to the tracing of time that Derrida calls the relation to ‘the other’. … ‘the other’ … designate another human being. … ‘Without autoimmunity, with absolute immunity, nothing would ever happen’ … life is necessarily open to death, good necessarily open to evil, and peace necessarily open to violence. Inversely, an absolute life that is immune to death, an absolute goodness that is immune to evil, or an absolute peace that is immune to violence is for Derrida the same as an absolute death, …”

Derrida’s trace speaks to a fundamental aspect of ethics – we are always exposed to an irreducible alterity of the Other. In this sense the appeal to the Other is the non-ethical opening ethics where in striving for lesser exclusion we are confronted by the possibility of greater violence. This account of ethics is the very possibility of ethics and is thus apriori. Hagglund 2:

Hagglund 10 (Hagglund, Martin. “The Non-Ethical Opening of Ethics: A Response to Derek Attridge”, Edingburg University Press, October 28th, 2010.)

  • “The non-ethical opening of the relation to the other gives rise to every chance of progress and every threat of regress. … alterity … precipitates af@257;rmations and negations, con@257;rmations and resistances that stem from the ‘same’ exposition to undecidable events. … it is the undecidable future that necessitates decisions. One is always forced to confront temporal alterity and engage in decisions that only can be made from time to time, … The ethical is … a matter of responding to alterity by making decisions and calculations, … the ethical arises in responding to the other, … with … hospitality that welcomes the other ‘without consideration of its goodness or badness, without forethought about likely consequences’ and consequently without ‘any of the processes of judgment or classi@257;cation’ … we are bound to the other before any decision, but this passive exposure to the other is precisely not ethical: it is the non-ethical opening of ethics that demands a response in the form of conditions, calculations, decisions”

Under this conception of epistemology, our normative ethic must be grounded in the ethics of hospitality where the metaphor of host and guest is applied to normative dilemmas. Only this understanding of ethics accounts for the non-ethical opening of ethics. Westmoreland:

Mark W. Westmoreland. Interruptions: Derrida and Hospitality. KRITIKE VOLUME TWO NUMBER ONE (JUNE 2008) 1-10.

  • “Ethics,” … is an ethics without law and without concept.” … the possibility of ethics is referred, not to its actuality, but to its impossibility.” … Derrida defines ethics as hospitality, hospitality as ethics. Hospitality is not removed from ethics, nor is it a specific area of ethics. It is the … the whole and the principle of ethics … ethics relies on hospitality so much that one cannot speak of ethics without speaking of hospitality, although the relationship between the two may be at once both hidden and calling to be seen.”

Thus the standard is maintaining consistency with an ethics of hospitality.

Additional reasons to prefer:

First: we cannot appeal to a preexisting presumption about what the good is and appeal to utopian ideals that are outside of the opening to the Other because that commits us to a state of absolute violence and destroys the very possibility of ethics. Hagglund 3 writes:

Hagglund, Martin. The Necessity of Discrimination: Disjoining Derrida and Levinas. Diacritics, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2004, pp. 40-71 (Article). Project Muse.

  • “A possible objection … is that we must strive toward an ideal … end, … that would prevail … the possibility of violence. … it is … with such an “ontological” thesis that … hauntological thinking takes issue. … a … life— … not haunted by any ghosts—would be nothing but a complete death. DerridaF0; s point is not simply that a peaceful state of existence is impossible to realize, … Rather, he challenges the … idea that absolute peace is desirable. In a state of being where all violent change is precluded, nothing can ever happen. Absolute peace is thus inseparable from absolute violence, … Anything that would finally put an end to violence … would end the possibility of life in general. The idea of absolute peace is the idea of eliminating the undecidable future that is the condition for anything to happen. Thus, the idea of absolute peace is the idea of absolute violence.”

Second: The only account of an ethical event is grounded in it’s opposite – a radical evil that would haunt it. Ignoring this aspect of ethical decisions is to functionally ignore the descions itself and negate the purpose of ethics. The ethics of hospitality is the only ethical system that accounts for this. Hagglund 4 writes:

Hagglund 10 (Hagglund, Martin. “The Non-Ethical Opening of Ethics: A Response to Derek Attridge”, Edingburg University Press, October 28th, 2010.)

  • “that if I invite a good friend and we have a great time it is an irreducible condition that ‘the experience might have been terrible. Not only that it might have been terrible, but the threat remains. That this good friend may become the devil, … for an event, … to happen the possibility of radical evil must remain inscribed as a possibility’ since ‘if we exclude the mere possibility of such a radical evil, then there will be no event at all. When we are exposed to what is coming, even in the most generous intention of hospitality, we must not exclude the possibility that the one who is coming is coming to kill us, is a @257;gure of evil’ … evil is a necessarily possibility but also that nothing would be desirable without it, since it is intrinsic to the experience of the good itself. … when I experience something good, the coming of a friend for example, if I am happy with a good surprise, then in this experience of happiness, within it, the memory of or the lateral reference to the possible perversion of it must remain present, in the wings let’s say, otherwise I could not enjoy it’”

Contention One: No right to be forgotten causes discrimination in the hiring process.

First, People’s past crimes, even if they’re old and outdated crimes that don’t apply to their behavior today, still come back to haunt them when they apply for jobs. Wright:

(Wright, Kai. "Boxed In: How a Criminal Record Keeps You Unemployed For Life." The Nation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2014.)

  • “So I made a phone call and asked to speak to them,” he explains. He says his boss told him, “We found out you have a record. And you can’t work here,At age 22, Rivera says, he committed a burglary in the Bronx.The judge didn’t make him serve any time, just released him to his parents’ custody and gave him five years of probation. Within two years, he’d earned release from probationBut the conviction has nonetheless stalked him ever since. “Twenty years later, it’s still there.”

And, unemployment biases keep people from getting jobs simply because they are unemployed


Rand. "The Jobless Trap." Job Market Paper (2012): 3. Print.

  • I submit roughly 3360 fictitious reL9;sumeL9;s to 600 job ads divided among a specific set of firms in four targeted industries … and applicants’ credentials on reL9;sumeL9;s were randomly manipulated to uncover how different reL9;sumeL9; characteristics affect … Employment status and the duration of the current nonemployment spell were randomized across reL9;sumeL9;s ….The reported results for my entire sample reveal that applicants with long nonemployment spells are less likely to be invited for job interviews. … examination of the data … reveals a sharp drop off in average interview requests after six months of nonemployment. Applicants with one month of nonemployment need to send about 10 reL9;sumeL9;s to get one interview request whereas applicants with seven months of nonemployment need to send about 35.

Contention Three: We need to stop unemployment

Poverty outweighs all impacts, and causes a meta-ethical obligation to help

G`illigan 96:

James, “Violence: Our Deadly Epidemic and its Causes”, p 191-196) BT

  • The deadliest form of violence is poverty.…*Structural violence is invisible, structural violence causes far more deaths than behavioral violence 18 million deaths a year caused by structural violence compare with 100,000 deaths from conflict.Comparing this frequency of deaths from structural violence to the frequency of those caused by major military and political violence, such as World War II … the Indonesian massacre … the Vietnam war and even ahypothetical nuclear exchangecannotbegin to compare with structural violence, Structural violence isthe main cause of behavioral violence
Debate Round No. 2



Because I believe in the importance of free speech, I negate.

Observation One: We should presume negative because inventing additional rights is problematic.

Prof. Napoleon Xanthoulis, 2012, writes, "There is a significant concern that...rights inflation trivialises rights, imposes unreasonable burdens on duty bearers and excessive constraints on freedom...and undermines valuable social relations." What he is saying here is that by making so many things rights, we demean what a right is and we come to believe that every privilege, convenience, or beneficial thing ought to be a right.

I Value Justice, defined as giving each what they are due. Because the resolution is inherently questioning whether we are due a specific civil right, Justice should be the value for this debate.

The right to free speech is essential to any society because, as Prof. Robert Larson, 2013, emphasizes, free speech facilitates five key values, including: "(1) individual autonomy; (2) truth seeking; (3) self-government; (4) the checking of abuses of power; and (5) promotion of good character." Prof. Rodney Smolla, 2012, concurs, writing, "speech is a means of participation, the vehicle through which individuals...actively join in the processes of decision-making that shape the polity...Freedom of speech is also an essential contributor to the American belief in government confined by a system of checks and balances, operating as a restraint on tyranny, corruption and ineptitude [also] ...Robust protection of freedom of speech...actually works to make the country more stable." Thus, the Criterion must be Protecting Free Speech and Expression.

It is my Sole Contention that the "right to be forgotten" violates the right free speech and expression.

Sub-point A: The "right to be forgotten" promotes censorship.

The Buisiness Insider, 2014, gives us the following example, "Google was required to delete a link to this BBC article about Stan O'Neal, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch. O'Neal led the bank in the mid-2000s, a period when it became dangerously over-exposed to the looming mortgage crisis...O'Neal lost his job, but he exited with a"golden parachute. There is nothing incorrect in the post...'[I]n removing the blog, Google is confirming the fears of many...that the 'right to be forgotten' will be abused to curb freedom of expression and to suppress legitimate journalism that is in the public interest.'" Besides threatening journalism, the right to be forgotten jeopardizes our ability to get information to form opinions and to check abuses of power. Jef Auloos, 2012, adds, "One of the most repeated arguments against a "right to be forgotten" is that it would constitute a concealed form of censorship. By allowing people to remove their personal data at will, important information might become inaccessible, incomplete, and/or misrepresentative of reality."

Sub-point B: The public has a right to know.

Norberto de Andrade, 2012, states, "[W]hen 'information about the past is needed to protect the public today, there will be no right to be forgotten. [W]hen a person who has abused his managerial position to gain financial advantages in the past seeks employment in a comparable position.' The right to oblivion will also face difficulties regarding certain members of society (politicians, public figures) whose transparency is important from a point of view of political credibility and democratic accountability.

Thus, I negate.


Xanthoulis: 2012, "Conceptualizing a Right to Oblivion in a Digital World: A Human Rights-Based Approach,", SSRN Paper []
Larson: 2013, "Forgetting the First Amendment: How Obscurity-Based Privacy and a Right to be Forgotten are Incompatible with Free Speech," Communication Law and Policy, 18 (1), 91-120, p. 109-112
Business Insider:
Auloos: 2012, "'The Right to be Forgotten' Worth Remembering?", Computer Law and Security Review, 28 (2012) 143-152, p. 145-6
de Andrade: 2012, "Oblivion: The Right to be Different ...from Oneself. Reproposing the Right to be Forgotten," Monograph VII International Conference on Internet, Law & Politics


'Twas fun.
Debate Round No. 3
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago

Gotcha. It's all good.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Sorry guys, but time has gotten away from me with this one due to Thanksgiving, and I don't think I'll be able to get to it. There are already 3 votes, so I figure my efforts are better placed elsewhere.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
This one's next for me. I haven't watched much of it yet, but I'm going to flow this thing on my computer using Excel. Should be interesting, haven't flowed in a while.
Posted by Envisage 1 year ago
I couldn't understand sh1t in this debate, so I am not going to vote.

I tried.. I really tried. I replayed 20-30 second sections of the debate over n over and I kept losing track. Too much effort gets put into trying to pick out what is being said (since it's so fast) and not enough concentration is left to digest what they are saying.

Sigh. O well...
Posted by Zaradi 1 year ago
*shrug* i'm not complaining since he's voting me down though xDD

he probably will later once he realizes it's in the voting phase and not still in the debating phase.
Posted by UchihaMadara 1 year ago
why didn't bluesteel vote?
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
Yeah, I'm of much the same mindset. The more debaters force me to reorganize the debate for them, the more I'm going to get frustrated with the task, and the less likely they are to be satisfied with the end result. I've always said that debaters should make judges think as little as possible, and organization issues definitely promote thinking and even, to some extent, intervention.
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
As an aside, there's something to be said for the policy debate structure of argumentation:

A. Link

B. Impact

I can't say I'm a fan of *some* LD debaters tendency to only explain the link between their contentions and their VC in later speeches, and I'm definitely not a fan of failing to explain the link between the topic (making the right to be forgotten a civil right) and the impact (e.g. reducing unemployment).

I've always thought the LD style promotes sloppy debating because it puts weighing mechanisms and iimpacts all over the place on the flow (impacts appear in the VC debate, weighing mechanisms spontaneously appear as rebuttal answers -- e.g. ethics trumps policymaking). If you just got rid of the VC model, all weighing mechanism discussions properly belong in an overview at the top of the debate and all impacts belong internally within each contention (rather than as a vague reference back to the VC, which is itself often used as the impact to the contention). This debate has done nothing to disavow me of the review that LD debate is "doing it wrong." I know this debate is not atypical of an LD debate, so the debaters themselves bear little responsibility for following what they were taught to do, but the debate ends up being sloppy on the flow and requires me as the judge to determine which arguments flow to which argument (which you can see that I did in my RFD with the turns). But judging shouldn't be a task in reorganizing; arguments should be delivered to judges in tidy little boxes that wholly contain all necessary components.
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
== Part 3 ==

Zaradi doesn't really have a good response to censorship, seemingly relying on his own VC to win the day. Zaradi also drops the four benefits of data permanence that bsh offers, and the turn about the ghosts of the other, so there's now a turn to each of zaradi's contentions that flows all the way through (ghosts turns hospitality and economic opportunities on the internet turns unemployment). With all of zaradi's contentions turned, I don't really have to evaluate the censorship issue or the government accountability issues, which aren't really impacted in a way that would make them easy to weigh against jobs or the moral imperative of being hospitable to the other. Perhaps ethics would trump policymaking considerations, as zaradi argues. But I don't need to reach that issue.

Therefore, I vote Con.
Posted by bluesteel 1 year ago
== Part 2 ==

bsh also says in refuting zaradi's case that data permanence is good for four reasons, including that data permanence promotes better government decisionmaking based on more available data (not sure how true this is, given the government can presumably find alternate means than Google to find the information it needs), that data permanence improves the democratic process (this I buy, it goes hand in hand with the public rights in the information), and that data permanence creates jobs because people can use the internet to create economic opportunities for themselves (which turns zaradi's second contention).

bsh also responds that consumers can boycott companies (essentially) that refuse to provide a non-civil remedy of removing content. I think this argument would be more effective if it was argued that companies have an incentive to remove offending content or users won't use the site (e.g. Facebook), or that the status quo already solves (Google already allows sites to have robots.txt files to prevent the site from being picked up and indexed by Google's crawler algorithm). As it stands, I don't think boycotts are as effective as a civil right, so I think zaradi wins that there is no good alternative mechanism.

bsh also responds to the first contention by saying that the "ghosts" of the other remain on the internet if you foster data permanence, so this better upholds the other because it preserves alternative narratives and the history of the other. This seems to be a good straight turn of zaradi's first contention. Given that the first contention link story is under-explained, I don't see why the turn doesn't work. Perhaps if Zaradi's first contention were more nuanced, the turn wouldn't apply to it, but it's presented in such general terms that the turn works.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Zaradi's case wasn't especially clear, and he had a lot of time sustaining it through. Bsh1 had a stronger case that centered on public interest in information, which Zaradi acknowledged but never really refuted. There was a lot of disconnection between what bsh1 said and what Zaradi actually refuted. Even though it was kind of like ships passing in the night, but for the spreading, this was a pretty good debate to watch.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: bsh1 here wins yet again, although by a little bit, less than usual (Zaradi will be Zaradi!) because Zaradi could not address the problem of Censorship well, and the benefits of data being "unforgettable" didn't really seem to be refuted that much.
Vote Placed by bluesteel 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments