Right to be forgotten

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The right to be forgotten (RTBF[1]) is the right to have private information about a person be removed from Internet searches and other directories under some circumstances. The concept has been discussed and put into practice in several jurisdictions, including Argentina,[2][3] the European Union (EU), and the Philippines.[4] The issue has arisen from 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."[5]:231

The right to be forgotten "reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace them."[6]:121 It has been defined as "the right to silence on past events in life that are no longer occurring."[7] The right to be forgotten leads to allowing individuals to have information, videos, or photographs about themselves deleted from certain Internet records so that they cannot be found by search engines.[6] As of 2011, there were few protections against the harm caused by incidents such as revenge porn sharing, or by pictures uploaded due to poor judgment.[8]

The right to be forgotten is distinct from the right to privacy. The right to privacy constitutes information that is not publicly known, whereas the right to be forgotten involves removing information that was publicly known at a certain time and not allowing third parties to access the information.[6]:122[9]

There has been controversy about the practicality of establishing a right to be forgotten (in respect to access of information) as an international human right. This is partly due to the vagueness of current rulings attempting to implement such a right.[10] Furthermore, there are concerns about its impact on the right to freedom of expression, its interaction with the right to privacy, and whether creating a right to be forgotten would decrease the quality of the Internet through censorship and the rewriting of history.[11] Those in favor of the right to be forgotten cite its necessity due to issues such as revenge porn sites appearing in search engine listings for a person's name, as well as instances of these results referencing petty crimes individuals may have committed in the past. The central concern lies in the potentially undue influence that such results may exert upon a person's online reputation almost indefinitely if not removed.[12]

Limitations of application in a jurisdiction include the inability to require removal of information held by companies outside the jurisdiction. There is no global framework to allow individuals control over their online image. However, Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, an expert from Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, said that Google cannot escape compliance with the law of France implementing the decision of the European Court of Justice in 2014 on the right to be forgotten. Mayer-Schönberger said nations, including the US, had long maintained that their local laws have "extra-territorial effects".[13]