Right to Be Forgotten

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The Right to Be Forgotten or the "Right to Erasure" is a phrase that captures the entitlement outlined in Article 17 of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


Article 17, which is part of Chapter 3 (the rights of data subjects), along with the other 98 articles became applicable on May 25, 2018, in all member states to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe.[1]


Article 17 specifies that a data subject can oblige a data controller to erase personal data without delay under the following circumstances:

  1. the personal data are no longer necessary for the original purposes for which they were processed;
  2. the data subject withdraws consent based on (a) of Article 6(1) or (a) of Article 9(2) of the GDPR, and there are no legal grounds for the processing;
  3. the data subject objects based on Article 21(1) or Article 21(2);
  4. the personal data have been unlawfully processed, have to be erased for compliance with Union or Member State laws to which the controller, or has been collected via information society services referred to in Article 8(1).

Court Cases and Controversies

Eliska Pirkova and Estelle Masse, of Access Now, have argued that the Court of Justice of the European Union's interpretation and implementation of Article 17 in two major cases on privacy and data protection have created a tension between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and information.[2]