IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Right to Forgotten          

18th December, 2021 Polity

Figure 1: No Copyright Infringement Intended


  • The Centre has informed the Delhi High Court that the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, which was tabled in Parliament, contains provisions related to the ‘right to be forgotten’.


About Right to Forgotten:

  • The right to be forgotten or the right to erasure is the concept that individuals have the civil right to request that personal information be removed from the Internet.
  • there must be a traceable mechanism for making sure that deleted data is also removed from backup storage media.
  • The right "reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace them" and has been defined as "the right to silence on past events in life that are no longer occurring.


About Right to Forgotten in EU Countries:

  • The right to be forgotten empowers individuals to ask organisations 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.
  • 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.
  • Personal data means, any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (“data subject”) and “controller means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or any other body which determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.
  • After a search engine company as if Google gets requests under the privacy law to get information deleted, it first reviews and then removes links on country-specific sites within the European
  • Google has so far received more than 8.45 lakh requests to take down 33 lakh internet links, and 45% of the latter have been delisted.

Right to Forgotten in India:

  • The draft bill framed by the Justice B. N. Srikrishna Committee has made an explicit reference to the right to be forgotten.
  • The draft bill makes it clear that the right to be forgotten is not an absolute right and provides for certain exemptions.


Provision of the Bill related to Right to forgotten

  • Section 27 provides an individual with a right to restrict or prevent continuing disclosure of personal data.
  • Many high courts have accepted the doctrine of the ‘right to be forgotten’ as an essential part of the ‘right to privacy’.
  • The bill provides that an adjudicating officer think such disclosure can override the freedom of speech and the citizen’s right to information. The adjudicating officer would decide based on:
    • Sensitivity of the personal data.
    • Scale of disclosure and the degree of accessibility sought to be restricted or prevented.
    • Role of the data principal in public life.
    • Relevance of the personal data to the public.
    • Nature of the disclosure and of the activities of the data fiduciary.


Pros and Cons of Right to be Forgotten:



Self-determination of your online presence

Your need for removal may be outweighed by general public’s interest in accessing and viewing such information

The ability to remove libelous, embarrassing, and stigmatizing information from a past post or upload

It carries a potential restraint on the freedoms afforded to media, journalists, and other parties under the First Amendment

The removal of illegally uploaded content by a third party, including “revenge porn”

Relatively broad, and undeveloped, with lacking precedent

An opportunity for a fresh start

Google and other search engines may be backed up with requests to remove information, so it may not be removed immediately

Removing personal details that compromise your personal and financial safety

Lack of transparency surrounding important information about businesses or persons

Peace of mind when applying for jobs

Potential restraint on the media, journalism, and other freedom of speech


Way Forward:

  • The Right to be Forgotten requests should be considered by the search engines with a comprehensive framework provided by the law.
  • This will ensure limited intervention by the state or a company in the personal choices of the individuals.
  • After all, the entire Internet today is so influential that it can shape lives and opinions in such a way that a person shouldn't be a prisoner of his or her past. People should be able to escape their discreditable criminal history.