Right To Privacy

What is the ‘Right to be Forgotten’?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21

Mains level: Right to be forgotten


A doctor has requested the Delhi High Court to enforce his ‘Right to Be Forgotten,’ which includes removing news articles and other content related to his “wrongful arrest.”

What is the “Right to Be Forgotten” Law?

  • The “Right to Be Forgotten” law is a legal concept that allows individuals to request the removal of their personal information from the internet.
  • It is based on the idea that individuals have a right to privacy and control over their personal data.
  • The law has been implemented in various forms in different countries, including the European Union, Argentina, and South Korea.

What are the origins of this Right?

  • The Right to be Forgotten was first established by the European Court of Justice in 2014 in the case of “Google Spain SL, Google Inc v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González”.
  • The case was about a Spanish man who wanted to remove a 1998 advertisement about his home being repossessed.
  • The Right to be Forgotten was later included in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), along with the right to erasure.
  • Article 17 of the GDPR outlines the right to erasure and provides certain conditions when the right can be restricted.

How does it work?

  • The “Right to Be Forgotten” law allows individuals to request the removal of their personal information from search engine results, social media platforms, and other websites.
  • The request must be made to the data controller, who is responsible for managing the personal data.
  • The data controller then evaluates the request and decides whether to remove the information or not.
  • If the request is denied, the individual can appeal the decision to the relevant regulatory authority.

Criticisms of the law

  • Critics argue that the law undermines freedom of expression and the public’s right to access information.
  • They also claim that the law is difficult to enforce and can lead to the censorship of legitimate information.
  • Others argue that the law is too narrow in scope and does not provide adequate protection for individuals’ privacy.

Future of the law

  • The “Right to Be Forgotten” law is still a relatively new legal concept, and its future is uncertain.
  • It is likely that the law will continue to evolve as courts and regulators grapple with its complexities.
  • In the meantime, individuals should be aware of their rights and take steps to protect their personal data online.

What is the law on the Right to be Forgotten?

  • Section 43A of the IT Act, 2000 says that organizations who possess sensitive personal data and fail to maintain appropriate security to safeguard such data, resulting in wrongful loss or wrongful gain to anyone, may be obligated to pay damages to the affected person.
  • IT Rules, 2021 do not include this right, they do however, lay down the procedure for filing complaints with the designated Grievance Officer so as to have content exposing personal information about a complainant removed from the internet.

Judicial precursor to the issue

  • The Right to be Forgotten is not explicitly recognized by Indian law, but it has been considered part of an individual’s Right to Privacy under Article 21 by Indian courts since the 2017 ruling in “K.S.Puttaswamy vs Union of India“.
  • The court acknowledged that this right may be restricted by the right to freedom of expression and information or legal obligations.
  • In 2021, the Delhi High Court directed online platforms to remove publicly available records of a case against an American citizen under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, who argued that it was affecting his employment prospects.


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