Right to Be Forgotten
What is the right to be forgotten?
The right to be forgotten is an extremely important tool for individuals who want to improve their online profile. The right to be forgotten is a mechanism that allows individuals to make applications to internet search engines, asking them to block unwanted search results from a search of their name.
The right to be forgotten was created by the European Court of Justice in 2014, in relation to a Spanish case. The decision of the ECJ means that whenever material appears in a search of someone’s name which is irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate, the material should be blocked if the applicant asks the search engine to do so.
If any one of these three grounds are satisfied, it is possible to ask the search engine to block search results from a search of your name.
Examples of right to be forgotten cases
Right to be forgotten applications can be made for a huge number of different reasons, and these are just examples of some of the types of cases where a right to be forgotten application could be successful, looking at each of the three grounds created by the ECJ in turn:
First Ground: Cases where the information is irrelevant:
- You may find that material appears in a search of your name that has absolutely nothing to do with you, due to some quirk in the way the page has been listed;
- If a relative of yours with a similar name has negative information published about them online, this could appear in a search of your name; and
- If the material relates to a job or profession that you have not worked in for many years, you could argue that the material is irrelevant.
Second Ground: Cases where the information is outdated:
- If a story was published about you many years ago, no matter what it says, it could be classed as outdated;
- If you published material yourself that you cannot access to remove, you could ask the search engine to block it; and
- If stories appear on newspaper websites or news indexing sites relating to something that you did when you were much younger, you could say they are outdated.
Third Ground: Cases where the information is otherwise inappropriate:
- If material appears online from when you were a minor (i.e. under 18 years old), that could be held to be inappropriate;
- If your mental or physical health, religious beliefs or sexuality are referred to in any way in the publication, you could ask for the material to be blocked; and
- If you were alleged to have committed a crime, but were then not charged or convicted, you could ask for damaging material to be block from searches. Even if you were convicted, it may still be possible to persuade the search engine to block material which refers to your crime.
It would not be unusual for an application for the right to be forgotten to be made using more than one of the three grounds outlined above.
In addition to the three grounds created by the ECJ, the principle of the right to be forgotten has been extended by the courts of England & Wales. In a decision of the High Court, it was held that where an applicant had made an application to a search engine in relation to a crime they had committed many years before, provided they had led an otherwise blameless life, the material should be blocked from a search of their name.
This means that where you have been convicted of a crime and your conviction is now spent, if you have not committed any other offences, there is a fairly good chance that your application for the right to be forgotten will be successful.
How does an application for the right to be forgotten work?
There is certain information that we will need from you in order to be able to submit an application for the right to be forgotten on your behalf. As well as your full name, address and contact details, and a copy of your passport or other photo identification, we will also need confirmation of the URLs which contain the material you wish to block.
A URL is the data which appears in the top line of your browser, and an example of a URL is as follows: https://www.right2bforgotten.co.uk/news
Once you have provided us with all of the information that we need, and a list of the URLs that you want to block, we will be able to start working for you and draft the application to the search engine.
What are the legal fees for a right to be forgotten application?
The fee that we charge will depend upon various factors, including the number of URLs that you wish to block, the extent of the content on the URLs, and the complexity of the issues in your particular case.
We will always agree a fixed fee with you at the outset, which will cover the drafting and submission of the application on your behalf.
If significant further work is required corresponding with the search engine and you after the application has been submitted, we will agree a fee for that further work with you in advance of any work being carried out.
How long until I get the result of my application?
An application for the right to be forgotten usually takes a week or so to get a response. In some cases, you might hear back much more quickly, and there are cases where we have had a response from the search engine on the same day, although this is unusual.
In other cases, if your application is more complex, if there are a lot of URLs that need to be considered by the search engine, or if the search engine requires more information before they make their decision, the process can take a little longer.
What should I do next?
If you would like to instruct us to make an application for the right to be forgotten, contact us today for a free initial discussion with an expert lawyer.
Latest Right to Be Forgotten News
An explanation of personal information online and how to get this removed from search engines.10/09/2021
Since Britain left the European Union, Google and other major search engines are still respecting the right to be forgotten and are still accepting applications10/08/2021
Examples of succesful applications for the right to be forgotten from Samuels Solicitors LLP.04/08/2021