The right to be forgotten, which can also be referred to as the right of erasure, is part of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short. This regulation gives individuals in the EU the right to request the removal of personal data held by organisations. If the request meets certain criteria, the organisation can be legally forced to remove any personal data held on that specific individual. However, there are various circumstances where the organisation would have the right to refuse to delete the data, which would override the right of the individual to be forgotten.

The Rights of the Individual

The right to be forgotten in the EU applies under a specific set of circumstances. If these circumstances are met and there are no mitigating factors, any individual who desires the removal of their personal data from a company’s records can legally apply for it to be erased. 

Individuals hold the legal right to request that their personal data be erased, and for that request to be upheld, if it is no longer necessary to the organisation that originally collected it to hold it for the purposes it was gathered. 

If information has been provided by consent, the individual has the right to withdraw that consent and have the information removed. If data has been processed unlawfully in the first place, or if there is a legal obligation or ruling requiring the removal of the data, then it must by law be removed on request. 

If personal data is being processed for the purpose of direct marketing, the individual has the right to protest. If the justification for processing the data of an individual relies on legitimate interests, and there is no overriding legitimate interest for the organisation to continue with data processing, it can be removed. There are also rules surrounding the processing of data on children. 

The Right To Refuse Erasure

While the rights of the individual are protected as best as possible in terms of erasing personal data that is no longer necessary, organisations have certain rights to overrule a request for erasure under the right circumstances. A request to be forgotten can be refused if the data held is being used in compliance with a legal obligation or ruling, if the data is required as part of an ongoing legal dispute, or if it is being used to exercise the right of freedom of speech. 

If the data is currently being used to exercise the official authority of an organisation or to perform a task that is deemed as being in the public interest, the organisation may be able to refuse an erasure request. A request may also be refused if the data is shown to be in the public interest for public health purposes, or in certain cases where it is necessary to perform occupational medicine or preventative medicine. 

If the erasure of certain data would impede progress in scientific or historical research – or if the data serves statistical purposes or the public interest – requests can be denied. Organisations can also deny an erasure request – or charge a reasonable fee for the process – if they can demonstrate that the request is in some way unreasonable.

The Right To Be Forgotten Movement

At present, the right to be forgotten is only in place in the EU. The right to be forgotten movement, or R2BF, supports bringing this right to America to enable US citizens to effectively control their own online reputation by removing information that is old, irrelevant or inaccurate from the search results, preserving their freedom and privacy. ReputationDefender supports R2BF, believing this is a public service that can be implemented to help American citizens protect their own online reputations without compromising on the freedom of the press or the right to free speech.

You can learn more about the right to be forgotten and other aspects of online reputation management by following ReputationDefender on Instagram