The economics of the right to be forgotten

Byung Cheol Kim, Jin Yeub Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-360
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Law and Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the Networks, Electronic Commerce, and Telecommunications (NET) Institute. We appreciate the very helpful suggestions from Richard Holden and an anonymous referee. We also thank many others for helpful comments and discussions, in particular, Daniel Chen, Jay Pil Choi, Jon Eguia, Thomas Jeitschko, Doh-Shin Jeon, Michi-hiro Kandori, David Laband, Gong Lee, Qihong Liu, Arijit Mukherjee, Matthew Oliver, Martin Peitz, Jacopo Perego, Eric Posner, Lars Stole, and the seminar participants at Michigan State University; the Georgia Institute of Technology; Sungkyunkwan University; the University of Memphis; the University of Tokyo; Yonsei University; the 2015 International Industrial Organization Conference; the 2015 Western Economic Association International Conference; the 2015 International Conference on Game Theory; the 2015 NET Institute Conference; the 2016 Institute of Industrial Economics–Toulouse School of Economics–Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse Conference on the Economics of Intellectual Property, Software, and the Internet; the 2016 Mannheim Center for Competition and Innovation annual conference; and the 2016 annual meeting of the Southern Economic Association.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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