Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

Right to be forgotten on the internet empowers an individual to ask organisations to delete their personal information after it’s purpose is served or when it is no longer relevant. It is provided by European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law passed by twenty-eight members bloc in 2018.

In olden days it was easier to remove any sort of information but as the world changed it became difficult and in the digital world with algorithms, all searched information is easily available. The main reason we need/require Right to be forgotten is to stop the availability of information which is no longer relevant or required. Although Right to be forgotten has many positive points but one of the main downsides of this right is that it can be used as a censorship tool by those in power who will have the law help them in removing their information from the face of the internet.

Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

There has always been a dilemma about the applicability of establishing Right to be forgotten and the status of International Human Rights. There are many concerns about its impact on freedom of expression, it’s interaction with the right to privacy, etc.

The notion of Right to be forgotten is derived from Europe’s pre-existing ideas. Europe’s Data Protection Legislation believes that individuals private information should not be revealed. The United Kingdom has the same belief under the Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act. France accepted a similar notion in 2010.

Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

Many states who have made Right to be forgotten part of their law have viewed it differently. Although the term Right to be forgotten is relatively new but on 13th May 2014, European Court of Justice said, “Right to be forgotten’ is a human right” this was decided by them in a case against Google in Costeja case

Last year in 2019 European Union’s Highest Court ruled that it’s online privacy rule ‘Right to be forgotten’ will not be applicable to the states outside Europe. In other words, the states inside Europe will be governed by the online privacy law and those outside its jurisdiction won’t be bound. This judgement was in favour of Google because then it didn’t have to delete information of the whole world.

Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

Right to be forgotten in India

India is the second-largest online market in the world after China, with the increasing number of data theft day by day data protection has become a national priority.

The term Right to be forgotten means people have the right to ask the internet to remove their personal information because once information is published on the internet it is going to be there until it’s removed if it’s not it can ruin or have a negative impact on the life of a person.

Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

In other terms right to be forgotten means deletion of data which is held by the service provider. Deletion of data may cause technical issues for some companies but it is not complex.

In India, Right to be forgotten has not been formally recognised but Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 was introduced. The bill provides the right to restrict or prevent information but not erasure. Currently, there are no laws on the protection of personal data but in 2017 the Supreme Court did uphold the right to privacy as a fundamental right.

In 2019 the bill was amended. The 2019 draft is more protective in terms of protecting the information of the public. The 2019 bill states in its clause 20 that if the information no longer has its purpose or the purpose has been served or consent which was given earlier is taken back, in the following cases, the information should be restricted or prevented. But when it comes to criminal matters or a person with a criminal record it has not been mentioned when or how the information is to be prevented or restricted.

Right to be forgotten: A weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet

If Right to be forgotten is applied it can be used as a weapon to fight the perfect memory of the internet. We will be able to remove that information which is personal and of no use but having absolute power to remove, restrict, prevent things can be used in the wrong way by those who are powerful. So it is important to have this right but at the same time, we need some kind of restrictions on it so that people won’t use it for their sole benefit. 

The same concern lies with the bill of Data Protection absolute power has been given to the officials who are appointed by the government if anyone wants to remove their information it is to be decided by them but giving few people so much power can do more harm than good. So some changes are required in the bill the power needs to be divided into more people but in comparison to the 2018 bill 2019 bill is more strong and revolves around erasure whereas 2018 bill wasn’t clear.