Brussels Says We've All Misunderstood 'Right To Be Forgotten'

Aug 19, 2014

Martine Reicherts, Europe's caretaker commissioner for justice, has hit back at suggestions from tech companies including Google that the "right to be forgotten" has encouraged freedom of expression to be violated.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, branded the right to be forgotten as "deeply immoral" and a step towards the "sanitisation of human knowledge" earlier this month.

reacting to such critiques, Reicherts claimed, "A sober analysis of the ruling shows that it does in fact not elevate the right to be forgotten to a 'super right' trumping other fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression.

"This ruling does not give the all-clear for people or organisations to have content removed from the web simply because they find it inconvenient," she added in her online statement on the issue.

She said each case will have to be assessed on its own merits, and that a variety of factors about the information in question would have to be considered, including its sensitivity for the individual's private life, and the interest of the public having access to that information.

The Right To Be Forgotten Form

The EU's data protection committee also criticised Google back in July, for the way it was handling the "right to be forgotten" ruling after it was reported Google were only removing links from European sites, meaning that all the vivid details were still available on

The "right to be forgotten" debacle began in May, when a Spanish citizen Googled his name and noticed search results brought up newspaper articles about the re-possession of his house in the 1990s.

The litigant argued that the results were "irrelevant" old news, and the links should be removed as they infringed his privacy rights, the EU court agreed, and by the end of the month Google had launched its "right to be forgotten" form.

Image Credit: Flickr (Mixy Lorenzo)

Author: Zak Thomas
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