Right To Be Forgotten/Online Eraser Laws

Created by Laura Biber on April 04, 2016 1088

The right to be forgotten refers to the ability of an individual to have data about them removed (or at least have the links removed) so that third parties can no longer access that data. The European Union (EU) adopted the right to be forgotten in 2012, but the US has yet to adopt a similar right. In the US, opponents of the right to be forgotten have raised concerns about the First Amendment free speech implications and the possibility for censorship.

The right to be forgotten as adopted in the EU does not erase online content. Those seeking to exercise this right would fill out a form through the search engine’s (such as Google) web site. This form allows an individual to request the removal of links to any web address. If the search engine company approves the request, the link would be removed from the search results. It is important to note that while the link would not appear in those search results, the content would still exist at the web address. In 2014, the European Court of Justice (roughly the EU’s equivalent of the Supreme Court of the US) interpreted the law to mean that all individuals in EU countries had the right to prohibit Google from linking to items that were “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”

 As previously mentioned, there is no federal law in the US on the right to be forgotten, and the only state that has adopted a right to be forgotten law is California. That law, discussed more under “California,” is limited to minors. 

Written by Laura Biber on April 21, 2016 0 1574
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Supporting Authority

Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González
Link to Supporting Resource

This page provides a summary of the Google v. Spain decision as well as links to the opinion itself and additional articles on the topic of the right to be forgotten. In Google v. Spain, the European Court of Justice held that European citizens have a right to request that commercial search engines, such as Google, should, upon request, remove links to private information that is no longer relevant. 


Created by Laura Biber on April 24, 2016 0 1643
Mythbuster: The Court of Justice of the EU and the "Right to be Forgotten"
Link to Supporting Resource

This article seeks to dispel some of the misinformation surrounding the European right to be forgotten and includes a link to a factsheet on the law.

Created by Laura Biber on April 20, 2016 0 1683

'Right to be Forgotten' Online Could Spread
Link to Supporting Resource

This August 2015 article from the New York Times discusses the ramifications of the European right to be forgotten and outings some of the arguments for and against expanding that right to the United States or other countries.

Created by Laura Biber on April 20, 2016 0 1653