Right to be forgotten

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Context: Google won its fight against tougher “right to be forgotten” rules after Europe's top court said it does not have to remove links to sensitive personal data worldwide. The “right to be forgotten” online does not extend beyond the borders of the European Union, the bloc’s highest court has ruled in a major victory for Google.

Mains: GS- III

  • Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, the role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cybersecurity. 

Case Study:

  • The case arose after France’s privacy watchdog CNIL in 2016 fined Google 100,000 euros ($109,790) for refusing to delist sensitive information from internet search results globally upon request in what is called the “right to be forgotten” rule. 
  • Google took its fight to the French Council of State which subsequently sought advice from the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union). The Council also asked for advice after CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés, France.) decided not to order Google to remove links from internet search results based on the names of four individuals.
  • The case is seen as a test of whether Europe can extend its laws beyond its borders and whether individuals can demand the removal of personal data from internet search results without stifling free speech and legitimate public interest.

Right to be forgotten: 

The right to be forgotten is a concept that has been discussed and put into practice both in the European Union (EU) and, since 2006, in Argentina. The issue has arisen from the desires of individuals to “determine the development of their life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.”

  • Also known as the “right to erasure”, the rule gives EU citizens the power to demand data about them be deleted.
  • In the case of search engines, Europeans have had the right to request links to pages containing sensitive personal information about them be removed since 2014.
  • But the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force in 2018, added further obligations.

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