- The information is demonstrably false;
- The information lacks important facts about the outcome of a bad situation — for example, that an arrest resulted in the charges being dropped or the accused person’s acquittal;
- The negative information is so old — say, a story about a person’s youthful indiscretion or minor legal offense — that the individual is entitled to a fresh start, a “clean slate”;
- The content (music, photography, literature, etc.) is protected by copyright and is being distributed without the owner’s consent;
- The information reveals personal financial data that could be used for identity theft;
- Intimate personal information — for example, about one’s health or private sexual activity — was posted not by the individual depicted, but by someone intent on humiliating her or him;
- The online information was posted long ago by a youthful commentator — say, in an academic paper, online blog or column in a college newspaper — and expresses inflammatory opinions that were later disavowed by the writer.
These guidelines would help achieve a balance between two conflicting rights: on the one hand, the public’s right (actually, an insatiable and somewhat voyeuristic desire) to know or learn, through Web searches, virtually everything about everyone; and on the other hand, a nonpublic citizen’s right to “privacy by obscurity,” or the “right to be forgotten.”