Right to be Forgotten – The Law

Right to be Forgotten and the Law

The ‘right to be forgotten’ is a component of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Set out in 2018, the legislation provides individuals with the opportunity to have their personal or identifiable information removed from the web. 


What’s the Official Word?


So, what does the law say about the right to be forgotten? The official clause states that ‘the data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay’. 


In plain English, this essentially means that any individual in the EU can request removal of their personal details from the internet. This is typically done because the information that is displayed is not correct, because the data is being stored unnecessarily, or simply because the individual has chosen to no longer agree with the storage of such data. 




Seems simple, doesn’t it? For the most part, it is. But things can get a little complicated. Especially as organisations don’t always have to agree to a request for removal! 


Under the right to be forgotten legislation, refusal can be made on the grounds of:


  • Freedom of expression
  • Legal obligation
  • Public interest
  • Public health
  • Preventative or occupational medicine
  • Scientific research
  • Historical research
  • Statistical purposes


It’s not quite as clear cut as it seems, which is why it’s often recommended that individuals work with an online reputation management consultant to A) determine whether they have a case for consideration under the right to be forgotten legislation, and B) that they create an application that accurately represents the situation at hand. 


Online Reputation Management


The right to be forgotten can be a hugely effective tool for personal online reputation management, helping to remove or reduce visibility of potentially harmful or inaccurate data that could damage a personal or professional brand. However, what many don’t realise is that the law says that data must be removed from EU-based sources only. 


It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2019, Google won a very high profile case, with the court ruling that the search engine giant does not need to remove links from its global search results, which means that data may still be present outside of the EU. 


And so, employing the right to be forgotten undoubtedly works best alongside other online reputation management techniques, such as SEO strategies that push unwanted links further down the SERPs rankings to minimise visibility. At Balanced Media, we support individuals through their right to be forgotten applications, as well as designing tailored online reputation management strategies to put you in control of your data. 

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