Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Right to be Forgotten Definition:

A right to have personal information deleted from some second party's electronic or paper records or databases.

Related Terms: Privacy

"The right to be forgotten," proposes Andra Giurgui, "is intended to cope with privacy risks online By empowering individuals to control their own identity (and information) in the online environment. Thus, if an individual no longer wants his or her personal data to be processed or stored by a controller (e.g. Facebook) and if there is no legitimate reason for keeping it, the data should be removed from their system."

In her 2012 article published by the American Bar Association, professor Jasmine McNealy, describes the right to be forgotten as follows:

"the "right to be forgotten," (is) an amorphous privilege that would allow individuals more control over their personal information, particularly that information collected and connected with new technology.

the right to be forgotten( right to be forgotten is elusive. According to Professor Bert-Jaap Koops, the right to be forgotten takes three forms: the right to have information deleted after a certain time, the right to have a "clean slate," and the right to be connected only to present information. The first conception of the right reflects the idea that an individual should have the opportunity to require individuals and organizations in possession of information about them to erase it.

Her article examines a new European Union regulation which will give citizens of Europe or at least within those countries who are members of the EU, a statutory right to be forgotten:"The right to be forgotten is a right
to the erasure of information in the possession of other parties. Under the
proposed§17, individuals could assert this right in situations in which
they no longer consent to a second party using their information."


As she points out, No such right to be forgotten exists in the United States. The closest related civil action an individual could claim is invasion of privacy by publication of private facts, or public disclosure. The Restatement ofTorts defines the publicationof-private-facts tort as the publication of private truthful information about an individual that is highly offensive to
a reasonable person. Individuals have successfully sued against public disclosure of private facts, especially in the realm of the disclosure of illness or hospitalization
Other than within the European Union, there does not appear to be emerging Initiatives ors upport from common-law legislatures in regards to a right to be forgotten. As a professor McNeraly concludes, circa 2012:"The right to be forgotten is an emerging privacy-related tool for plaintiffs to use
to have information about them removed from retention by organizations and
available online. The boundaries of the right to be forgotten have yet to be
concretely defined, but draft legislation from the EU provides some guidance
as to how such a right would be codified.

The law would allow an individual, claiming to be able to be identified by
certain information, to demand that an organization remove that information
immediately. The organization would have to comply or face possible court
ordered sanctions.

French le droit à l'oubli.

The existence or not of a right to be forgotten bands on the jurisdiction. As of September, 2014, there is no such right in the United States of America or in Canada. Even were there such a right, the information collected wars such as Yahoo, Facebook, Google and others have deep legal pockets and a commercial interest in fighting any right to be forgotten. In the United States, the backbone of their resistances freedom of speech and freedom of the press which in the United States of America, often takes precedence over an individual's right to privacy.


  • Giurgiu, Andra, Challenges of Regulating a Right to Be Forgotten with Particular Reference to Facebook, Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 7, Issue 2 (Fall 2013), pp. 361-378 7 MUJLT 361 (2013)
  • McNealy, Jasmine, The Emerging Right to Be Forgotten,12 Insights on L. & Soc'y 14 2011-2012

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