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NY bill would fine search engines, publishers for refusing to take down posts

In the world of social media, there are Facebook friends, and then, there are foes.

To combat the bad behavior that can come with social media, Assemblyman David Weprin, D-Queens, has drafted a bill he calls "the right to be forgotten act."

It would require search engines and online publishers to remove information considered "inaccurate," "irrelevant," "inadequate," or "excessive," within 30 days of a request to take it down.

“We’re looking to deal with situations regarding average people who are not public figures, and there’s information out there that's damaging to their reputation,” Weprin said.

Weprin says the bill has a public interest clause, and wouldn't apply to information about criminal suspects, public figures or politicians.

“It could’ve been something that happened a long time ago that’s not relevant to that person's business now that's being used against this person,” Weprin said.

Legal expert Paul DerOhannesian says there are several problems with the bill.

“This bill talks about inaccurate information, what is inaccurate information, who decides what's inaccurate?” DerOhannesian said.

While Weprin says a similar law exists in England, DerOhannesian says drafting a bill like this is difficult in America.

“England does not have such a robust defense of the freedom of speech as the United States does, I think this is particularly challenging in the U.S. legal environment,” DerOhannesian said.

25-year-old Molly Brennan, who lives in Schenectady, says there should be a balance between the First Amendment and privacy online.

“Private information, explicit photos, have no place on the internet really,” Brennan said.

Under the legislation, online publishers would be charged 250 dollars per day if they refused to take down a problematic post after that 30-day period.

Weprin stresses, this is his first draft of the bill.

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