EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN

by Alex Hales
right to be forgotten

What does the right to be forgotten mean?

Individuals should have the legal right to request that their personal information be erased from the Internet, a notion known as the “right to be forgotten” or “right to erasure.” Likewise, there has to be a trackable system to guarantee that information that has been deleted is also erased from any backup storage medium.

According to one definition, this is “the right to quiet on previous occurrences in one’s life that are no longer happening,” while another describes it as “the claim of an individual to have particular data wiped so that third individuals may no longer track them.”

How did the concept of the “Right to be forgotten” first arise?

The word originally came to public notice in 2014, when a man in Spain sought Google to delete links to a newspaper story about his prior bankruptcy. He said there was no longer any valid purpose for the piece to be available online, since the debt had been paid.

The European Court of Justice issued a ruling against Google, finding that EU citizens have a right to have their personal data erased from public record databases and search engine results under specific conditions.

As of 2019, however, the EU court ruled that Google was exempt from applying the “right to be forgotten” outside of Europe.

Which countries has it been implemented in?

Users in European Union nations (such France, Germany, Spain, etc.) are subject to the legislation. Google will only allow users to view a URL from their own country based on geolocation signals.

What is the process of erasure?

Anyone in the European Union may submit a request “verbally or in writing” to any business, and that business has one month to answer.

Before granting the request, a number of factors are considered. If the request is granted, the subject’s name will no longer be included in the results of content searches conducted in EU member states.

If a European citizen’s request to have Google remove a link is denied, the citizen may file a complaint with the country’s data protection body. Google might be sued if it disobeys a ruling from the Data Protection Agency.

Criticism

The “right to be forgotten” online, according to free speech advocates, could easily be turned into a worldwide censorship weapon. The open character of the Web and the free flow of information are threatened by the removal of information.

Google has contended that the commitment, if extended outside of Europe, might be exploited by authoritarian regimes to cover up human rights violations.

Microsoft, the Wikimedia Foundation (the organisation that owns Wikipedia), the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Article 19 are just some of the organisations that have previously backed the software company.

Where does UK stand on the right to be forgotten?

However, UK law has not yet codified the right to be forgotten, which includes the need that personal information be deleted.

Yet, for the first time ever, a constitutional court has addressed the issue of social media users’ right to be forgotten in the context of revenge porn.

This provides a potential avenue for anyone who want to pursue such lawsuits and request that online services remove material.

The Road Ahead

Striking a balance between the right to anonymity and the right to free speech

Individuals should have the option to have their private information removed from the open forum that is the internet. To use this privilege, however, limits the public’s access to information protected by the First Amendment. If this privilege is widely asserted, search engine results will progressively vanish. This calls for a case-by-case approach to striking a balance between the two rights. The Justice Sri Krishna Committee is correct in its assertion that judges, not search engines, should perform the balancing test.

Search engines shall evaluate petitions under the Right to be Forgotten in light of the law’s entire framework. This will guarantee that neither the government nor private businesses have free reign over people’s lives.

After all, today’s Internet as a whole is so powerful that it may change people’s perspectives and lives irrevocably; hence, one need not be a prisoner of the past. A person’s criminal record shouldn’t be able to hold them back forever.

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