What is the right to be forgotten? What is its impact?

Today social media have provided everyone with a potentially powerful platform to raise their voice and have empowered as well as reinforced the freedom of speech and expression to new heights and new reach. Which in turn has also endangered the right to privacy to a great extent? Out of this ongoing conflict of long-standing freedom of expression vs. right to privacy, arose the issue of the right to be forgotten.

So what is right to be forgotten? The right to be forgotten empowers individuals to ask organizations to delete their personal data. It is provided by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law passed by the 28-member bloc in 2018 and the same have been in practice in Argentina and the European Union since 2006.

Impact of Right to Be Forgotten:

This right is a very significant one as it can be quite instrumental for a person to determine the direction of their life in an independent manner, without being open to various threats or uncertainties owing to the action committed in past or allegations made in past, which can impact their growth in a negative manner and hinder their growth by being periodically stigmatized.

The right to be forgotten can be seen closely related to the right to privacy which aims to protect privacy but is altogether distinct from it. As the right to privacy largely deals with pieces of information which should not be known or revealed to the public without proper and prior intimation of the authorities in question, on the other hand, the right to be forgotten is about or concerns more about the removal of such information that was published or publicly known at a certain time as well as restrict third parties to access the following information

To tackle this problem in light of the law. The European Union had come up with a system that enables people to seek the removal of such content which by nature is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” from the search results of Google. But the system may seem an answer to this long-standing problem, but in actuality just makes it harder or difficult to find such content in the light of global search engines which help in finding almost any information online and do not actually remove it.

After the landmark decision of the European Union, Google has received nearly 700,000 requests seeking the removal of the links. Because of the problems faces by many people such as being surfaced on revenge porn sites with their names or in references to petty crimes committed many years ago remaining unduly even after when they have atoned for the crimes and have served their term. Still, a prominent part of their Internet footprint can be traced by it.

But on the other hand, it also raises issues such as impacting on the freedom of expression as well in some way affecting the quality of the internet in a negative manner by censoring it and rewriting the history.