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Right To Be Forgotten

Right To Be Forgotten

Right To Be Forgotten

Right to be forgotten finally, the law in Europe provides considerable leeway in what can be requested. In a narrow sense, a company may only be forced to erase an embarrassing Click here.

Irrelevant or even illegal content when the authorities make a specific request to have it removed. When that happens, the company must comply, with or without a court order.


In practice, however, the process is not straightforward. The company must either send a copy of the request to the person who complain to try to challenge it, or attempt to identify the person by means of other information that is publicly available. It cannot simply erase the information at the person’s request without further evaluation or legal action.

Service Provider

Given the somewhat subjective nature of what is deem acceptable to share publicly, this might create some uncertainty for internet service providers, companies that operate online platform, and news publisher who can lose readership and revenue by delisting offensive content.

To date, European court decision in cases brought by individual to have illegal content remove from search result have not had significant impact. And European regulator and policymakers have often not come down decisively in favor of people seeking to have their information remove from search results, perhaps in part due to public sentiment.

Illegal Information

This means that even if European citizens feel protect, they are still far less likely to request that companies purge potentially embarrassing or even illegal information from their search result.

Our work on the challenge data project, which I conducted while at Yale, suggests that if European citizens did make more requests for information removal from search engines, the result would likely be more positive. The project, which I conduct with another Yale doctoral student.

Search Result

We found that European Google search result  include sites that had removed objectionable content from their sites on average 37.2 percent of the time, while American Google search results included such sites on average 25.5 percent of the time.

This does not mean European results are alway better, or that the United State has no problem with sensitive information falling into the wrong hand. In fact, we found that one in 10 link in European Google search result include illegal information.

Different Way

Ultimately, the importance of the right to be forgot and the right to privacy will continue to play out in different ways in different countries around the world. But it is already clear that in many ways, the European approach has gone a long way toward addressing longstanding concern about user privacy and has brought more transparency to how online companies approach those issues.

Jeff Ingles is a visiting research scholar at Yale Law School and director of the Challenges Data Project. He has contributed to Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Guardian.

Research Associate

Musa al-Garb is a doctoral candidate in computer science at Yale University and a research associate in law at the Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. Andy Carpenter is a research professor at Yale Law School and directs the Challenges Data Project. Sean Howell is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University and a research fellow at the Yale Law School’s Information Society Project Click here.

Allison Scherer is a Ph.D. candidate in information studies at Princeton University. She works as a research assistant at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. Sebastian Solano is a Ph.D. candidate in information studies at Princeton.


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