‘right to be forgotten’ is the right to have publicly available personal information removed from the internet, search, databases, websites or any other public platforms, once the personal information in question is no longer necessary, or relevant. RTBF gained currency after the 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in the Google Spain case.
RTBF has been recognised as a statutory right in the European Union under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and has been upheld by a number of courts in the United Kingdom, and in Europe.
In India, RTBF doesn’t have legislative sanction yet. However, in the Puttaswamy judgment, the Supreme court held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right.
In the Puttaswamy judgment, the Supreme Court observed that the “right of an individual to exercise control over his personal data and to be able to control his/her own life would also encompass his right to control his existence on the Internet”.
Currently, many High courts have expressly recognised the right to be forgotten in their judgments, taking note of international jurisprudence on this right.
Judicial Transparency vs Right to be Forgotten
Right to be forgotten may get into conflict with matters involving public records.
- For instance, judgments have always been treated as public records and fall within the definition of a public document according to Section 74 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
- According to a report by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, RTBF cannot be extended to official public records, especially judicial records as that would undermine public faith in the judicial system in the long run.
- Right to be forgotten creates a dilemma between the right to privacy of individuals and the right to information of society and freedom of press.
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