Nevertheless it should be mentioned briefly that the US has been rather critical of the concept of the right to be forgotten.The focus of this article lies on interactions among private parties, omitting conflicts arising out of government activities.
In light of the recent European Court of Justice ruling (ECJ C-131/12, Google Spain v Spanish Data Protection Agency),the “right to be forgotten” has once again gained worldwide media attention.
Already in 2012, whenthe European Commission proposed aright to be forgotten,this proposal received broad public interest and was debated intensively.
Under certain conditions, individuals should thereby be able todelete personal data concerning them.
More recently – in light of the European Parliament’s approval of the LIBE Committee’samendments on March 14, 2014 – the concept seems tobe close to its final form.
Although it remains, for the most part,unchanged from the previously circulated drafts, it has beenre-labelled as a“right of erasure”.
This article argues that, despite its catchy terminology, the right to be forgotten can be understood as a generic term, bringing together existing legal provisions: the substantial right of oblivion and the rather procedural right to erasure derived from data protection.
Hereinafter, the article presents an analysis of selected national legal frameworks and corresponding case law, accounting for data protection, privacy, and general tort law as well as defamation law.
This comparative analysis grasps the practical challenges which the attempt to strengthen individual control and informational self-determination faces.
Consequently, it is argued that narrowing the focus on the data protection law amendments neglects the elaborate balancing of conflicting interests in European legal tradition.
It is shown thatthe attemptto implement oblivion, erasure and forgetting in the digital age is a complex undertaking.
Every individual has experienced episodes in his life he enjoys remembering (and having others remember), and others that he would like to forget (or have others forget).