Everything to Know About the Right to Be Forgotten

There is a lot of information floating around on the internet about individuals and businesses, and it is not always positive information. Sometimes that information is very negative and damaging to a reputation. The trouble is distinguishing what information is accurate and what information is false.

In today’s world, the information found on the internet can affect peoples’ lives in very real ways. You might not get a job you interviewed for because the recruiter searched for you and found negative comments made about you online. That kind of power led many people to support the right to be forgotten legislation across the world.


The right to be forgotten is legislation that allows private citizens to request information about them be removed from index search engines such as Google. This legislation was enacted in 2014 by the European Union, specifically due to a case in Spain where a private citizen wanted information about his tax issues removed from searches. The citizen said that the information was negatively affecting him and was no longer relevant.

Currently, there is no one specific federal or constitutional law in the United States or Canada that states citizens have the right to request information be removed. There are some of these protections rolled into other laws, but nothing comprehensive. However, politicians have drafted legislation similar to those in the EU. Many citizens look at the EU laws as a model for laws that should be enacted in North America due to the vast amount of information available.

When it Applies

Even under EU law, there is no way to have all of your information removed from the internet. There are some particular situations where a citizen or business can request information be removed. The basics are if the information is provably false, the information is no longer relevant, the person or business no longer gives consent for the use of the information, or the information is about a child.

The EU takes a fairly strong stance when it comes to information about children. While there are some exceptions to those situations, such as information being in the public domain, or some legal reason, the information should remain searchable. This legislation puts the power back into citizens’ and businesses’ hands to control their reputations online.

Right now, the U.S. and Canada do not have comprehensive legislation specifically allowing these kinds of requests. There have not been consistent court rulings to set information removal as a precedent.

When it Does Not Apply

There are a few situations in which a person or business cannot have their information removed from search engines. The exceptions generally revolve around public interest or government proceedings.

For instance, if the information relates to public health purposes, it is serving a greater cause and cannot be removed. This also applies to scientific research, historical research, or other data that is necessary for the greater good. Also, if you are currently involved in an ongoing legal battle, you cannot insist relevant information be removed from search engines.

An organization can also deny a request if they find it to be unwarranted. As you can see, there are many factors that go into the final decision and it is not always simple to remove information on the internet.

Freedom of Speech

In the United States, there is a common misconception regarding freedom of speech and the First Amendment. Private companies are not required to protect freedom of speech, and users typically have to “sign” the terms and conditions to use online platforms, like social media sites. This means they can remove information or posts as they please.

While many companies value freedom of speech and try to uphold it, they can restrict content in whatever way they feel is necessary. They can even suspend accounts if they find reason to do so.

An Easier Alternative

Even in the EU, where the right to be forgotten legislation is fairly clear, it can be difficult to figure out the different regulations and situations. In North America, where no one law encompasses what you can do about your information online, it isn’t easy to know where to start.

The best thing to do is know who is the best company to remove personal information from the internet. You have to find the people who can help you make sense of it and who know the regulations inside and out.

Be Careful Online

In the end, you may not like some of the things that are out there online about you. Some of the information may even be harmful. You can take steps to have that information removed, but in North America, it is more difficult than you might like. Keep an eye on your information. Be careful about what you post and who is posting about you. That is one of the best ways to keep yourself and your reputation safe.


Go to Smartblog Theme Options -> Ad Management to enter your ad code (300x250)

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment