You now have the right to be forgotten online

If you are a European citizen you have the right to ask search engines to remove your personal data from their search results. This will be the result of implementing the guidelines agreed by the Article 29 Working Party, which is comprised of data protection representatives from individual Member States and deals with issues relating to the protection of privacy and personal data. The particular issue of the right of individuals to be forgotten has been initiated in 2010 by a Spanish citizen’s complaint to a national newspaper and Google. The European Court of Justice last May ruled on the applicability of data protection rules to a search engine and the territoriality of EU rules. This particularly applies to Google which has a 90% market share in Europe, and has been extended to include the global .com domain as well as the local ones such as, and

“De-listing decisions must be implemented in such a way that they guarantee the effective and complete protection of data subjects’ rights and that EU law cannot be circumvented,” the Article 29 working group said in a statement. “Limiting de-listing to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights of data subjects according to the ruling.”

Users of Google can fill out a form and request the delisting of their information, which is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Since launching its webform for the right to be forgotten requests in May, Google has reported that 174,266 requests have been filed for 602,479 links, and they have removed 352,450 links or 58.5% of the requested search results from across Europe. This did not include listings on the international, main .com domain.

The results are only blocked when a specific name is mentioned in the search terms, and articles can still be visible if one is to search by keywords. Apart from Google, Yahoo and Bing have also implemented a form for users to ask for the delisting of articles that are inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, as per the definition of what items the right to be forgotten regulates.

The Article 29 working group represents all the major data regulators from across Europe, but it is up to the data regulators in individual countries to enforce the guidelines.


The editorial team of Katoikos

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