The Right to be Forgotten

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The right to be forgotten has largely been discussed within the EU (most commonly France) and practiced most commonly in Argentina. The concept would allow people to live there lives without being stigmatised by actions of the past. However there are concerns around its affect on freedom of speech and its interaction with peoples right to privacy and if creating a right to be forgotten would decrease the quality of the internet through censorship.

Legal Framework

The right to be forgotten reflects the individuals claim to not be traced through the deletion of certain types of data collected by third parties, a further argument was made for this right in relation to revenge porn websites are there is currently no protection.

European data protection and the right to be forgotten

The new European Data Protection Regulation Article 17 details the ‘right to be forgotten', under article 17 individuals to which data appertains are granted the right ‘obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data relating to them and the abstention from further dissemination of such data, especially in relation to personal data which are made available by the data subject while he or she was a child or where the data is no longer necessary for the purpose it was collected for'[1]

Google's Ruling

Following a European court ruling, Google is required to remove links to "inadequate, irrelevant or ... excessive" information from its search results in EU countries if the person to which the web page relates places a complaint, subject to a public interest test.Google has expressed that the process is still very much a work in process.[2]

Controversy on the geographic reach of the judgment

The Google Advisory Council, an ad hoc expert group created by Google to hear European stakeholders and examine the implications of the ruling argued in a report in February 2015 that "The Ruling is not precise about which versions of search a delisting must be applied to. Google has chosen to implement these removals from all its European-directed search services, citing the CJEU’s authority across Europe as its guidance." [3]. That is the modus operandi Google was already implementing.

In June 2015, however, the French data protection authority CNIL demanded that Google apply the right to be forgotten worldwide, not just to European domain name [4]. Otherwise, Google would face a fine.

In the end of July 2015, Google replied that it does not want to implement a global right to be forgotten [5]. The company argues that this would have "serious chilling effects on the web", as other countries could ask to de-link globally content that they outlaw, thus reducing freedom of expression and information worldwide.

UK position

The Government is conscious of the possible unintended consequences of the judgment, such as the administrative burdens for search engines in complying with the judgment, a potential increase in caseload for the Information Commissioner’s Office in responding to complaints and ultimately the volume of cases that may end up in the Tribunal on appeal.[6]


  1. European Commission. Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data and On the Free Movement of Such Data (General Data Protection Regulation). 2012/0011 (COD). Article 17. Right to be forgotten and To Erasure.
  3. Report of the Advisory Committee to Google on the Right to be Forgotten p. 19
  4. La CNIL met en demeure Google de procéder aux déréférencements sur toutes les extensions du moteur de recherche Article on CNIL website (in French)
  5. Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten Article published on June 30th on Google Europe Blog
  6. Hansard, 2014-07-22