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The Right to Remember and The Right to Be Forgotten

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

A famous proverb, ‘A tiger leaves its skin after death; a man leaves his name.’, does not mean that one must be a historic figure. Instead, it should be read as ‘one’s life lives on within memories of the people they have lived with.’ This week’s special feature will cover the ‘digital heritage’ and ‘The Right to Be Forgotten’, based on this proverb.

On April 25th, the Act on Information and Communications Network Utilization was proposed, and it is invigorating the discussion on digital heritage. According to UNESCO’s 〈Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage〉, digital heritage “embraces cultural, educational, scientific and administrative resources, as well as technical, legal, medical and other kinds of information created digitally, or converted into digital form from existing analog resources”. To put it much simpler, it is all kinds of information in a digital form, such as photographs · videos · texts. If so, how much of our rights are guaranteed on the digital heritage?

In the case of the United States of America, where the discussion about digital heritage happened relatively early, Meta Platforms, Inc. is offering a ‘heritage access’ tool so that the account owner could manage their own Facebook and/or Instagram accounts during their lifetime. Also, Apple Inc. is offering the ‘digital heritage’ program to designate who can access account owners’ data. However, in the case of South Korea, there is no way to take control of it besides the owner, so the bereaved are not able to take care of digital heritage. Therefore, this proposal makes us ponder the range of ‘The Right to Remember’ and our attitude while living in the digital era since it creates a legal basis for the owners and the bereaved.

Another IT issue to add on would be the ‘Child · Youth’s Digital Right to be Forgotten Demonstration Project’, which protects ‘The Right to Be Forgotten, which is as important as the right to remember. ‘Child · Youth’s Digital Right to be Forgotten Demonstration Project’ is an extension of Child · Youth Personal Information Protect, to help “the child and the youth, who are the digital native of the present age, accumulates a lot of their personal information online, however, have a limit on exercising ‘rights to delete’ and the right of control substantially”. Therefore, with the consideration that support is needed for them, the government is helping citizens below 24 to exclude the posts they posted online when they were minors.

The government’s demonstration project to protect digital sovereignty stated above can be comprehended as a warning sign to undiscerning ‘sharenting’. ‘Sharenting’, sharing their children’s photographs online, has posed a problem since it is not only the invasion of child and youth’s privacy but also can be used as a tool for a crime targeting them. France has already established a system for children to file a lawsuit against their parents if their photographs are uploaded without their consent.

Overall, the movement to guarantee both ‘The Right to Remember’ and ‘The Right to Be Forgotten’ is slowly, but clearly on its way. However, it is important to keep in mind that the gap between technology and people’s effort to protect their own rights remains since technology is evolving further and further by every minute; and the system should work in the most helpful way for that reason.


1. 디지털 유산의 보존에 관한 헌장

2. 허은아 "생전 SNS 사진·글도 상속"…'디지털 유산법' 발의

3. [친절한 뉴스K] SNS 사진 상속…‘디지털 유산법’ 등장

4. "엄마, 내 허락받았어?" SNS에 사진 올렸다가 소송…셰어런팅 주의보

5. 아동·청소년 '디지털 잊힐 권리' 돕는다…연말 '셰어런팅' 방지법 발의

6. [현장소리] ‘디지털 잊힐 권리’로 나를 잊어주세요

7. SNS상의 미성년자 초상권 보호를 위한 프랑스의 법적 조치

8. 아동·청소년 디지털 잊힐 권리 시범사업 시행


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