The Chance “to Melt into the Shadows of Obscurity”: Developing a “Right to be Forgotten” in the United States

  • Patrick O’Callaghan
Part of the AMINTAPHIL: The Philosophical Foundations of Law and Justice book series (AMIN, volume 8)


This chapter argues that there is some (limited) evidence of a right to be forgotten in the jurisprudence of U.S. courts. For the purposes of this argument, the right exists whenever interests in being forgotten and/or forgetting are understood as weighty enough to impose a duty on government and/or fellow citizens to respect those interests. Most of the relevant cases belong to the pre-digital era but nevertheless provide some doctrinal support for a right to be forgotten in the digital era. In particular, the chapter pays close attention to the privacy challenges associated with search engines and argues that it may be possible to implement a Google Spain-inspired right to be forgotten (in the sense of delisting or deindexing search results) in the United States.



This chapter stems from research supported by the Irish Research Council’s New Horizons 2016 funding scheme. I am grateful to the editors of this collection, the participants at the 2016 AMINTAPHIL conference at Wake Forest University and the participants at the 2017 BILETA conference at the University of Minho for their comments on this chapter. I also wish to thank Patrick Hubbard, Eoin O’Dell, and Diane Zimmerman for providing me with helpful insights on the relationship between a potential right to be forgotten and the First Amendment.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University College CorkCorkIreland

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