“Right to be forgotten” refresher

In a about a week I will post a short policy brief , which will be an assessment of EU internet policy relating to data privacy.

I will be focusing on one of the documents published on January 25, 2012 when the new data directive was officially unveiled.  I will specifically examine the communication by the European Commission to the European Parliament and Council; and I will make the subject official document available (it’s public domain).  Meanwhile, the European Union’s rationale for the urgency of reform in this area can be seen in this factsheet .

To follow the report, it would also help to reiterate again exactly what is meant by “the right to be forgotten”.  That phrase is actually not mentioned in the official document that I will review, and it is a phrase that really has caught on from analysts and media.   However, it’s meaning was first articulated by Commissioner Viviane Redding, who is Vice-President of the EU’s European Commission and in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.  on January 22, 2012 she stated that, “If an individual no longer wants his personal data to be processed or stored by a data controller, and if there is no legitimate reason for keeping it, the data should be removed from their system”

The legal foundation of such thinking can be found in French law which recognizes le droit a l’oubli i.e. a right to oblivion.  It serves the function of for example allowing rehabilitated criminals to object to publication of evidence of their conviction.

The French legal conception of the right to oblivion can be accessed on Wikipedia (in French):


Redding’s 2012 statement to the press can be read in full on the EU site:



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