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The Economics of the Right to Be Forgotten

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Scholars and practitioners debate whether to expand the scope of the right to be forgotten—the right to have certain links removed from search results—to encompass global search results. The debate centers on the assumption that the expansion will increase the incidence of link removal, which reinforces privacy while hampering free speech. We develop a game-theoretic model to show that the expansion of the right to be forgotten can reduce the incidence of link removal. We also show that the expansion does not necessarily enhance the welfare of individuals who request removal and that it can either improve or reduce societal welfare. Our analysis has implications for understanding the impact of the global expansion of the right to be forgotten on privacy and free speech.

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