What is the Right to be Forgotten and how the concept has developed in India? What is its significance? What are the challenges associated with this concept?
The right to be forgotten has been recognized by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in 2018.
The GDPR provides individuals with the right to request the deletion of their personal information from online platforms or search engines, subject to certain conditions and limitations.
In this article, let us look deeply into the concept of the right to be forgotten.
Right to be Forgotten: Key Points
The right to be forgotten is a legal concept that allows individuals to request the removal of their personal information from online platforms or search engines. It is based on the idea that individuals should have control over their personal data and the right to have their personal information deleted or removed from online platforms or search engines if it is no longer relevant or necessary.
The right to be forgotten is often associated with the right to privacy and data protection. It is designed to protect individuals from the potentially harmful effects of having their personal information available online, such as identity theft, cyberbullying, or discrimination.
The right to be forgotten is a relatively new concept in India and has not yet been fully recognized by the courts or the legislature. However, there have been some developments in recent years that have touched upon issues related to data privacy and the right to be forgotten.
K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India 2017
One of the significant developments in this area was the recognition of the right to privacy as a fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian Constitution in the landmark case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Another v. Union of India and Others in 2017. This case laid the foundation for recognizing the importance of data privacy and individual autonomy in India.
Google LLC v. Visakha Industries 2018
In 2018, the Delhi High Court, in the case of Google LLC v. Visakha Industries and Another, directed Google to de-index certain web pages that contained allegedly defamatory content. While this case did not explicitly recognize the right to be forgotten, it did provide some guidance on how the courts in India may approach issues related to data privacy and online content.
Draft of MeitY
In 2019, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) released a draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill, which includes provisions related to the right to be forgotten. The bill recognizes the right of individuals to have their personal data erased in certain circumstances, including when the data is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it was collected, or if the individual withdraws their consent for the data to be processed.
Significance of the Right to be Forgotten
The right to be forgotten is a complex legal concept that can have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the key advantages of the right to be forgotten:
Protects Privacy: The right to be forgotten can help individuals protect their privacy and personal information by allowing them to request the removal of their personal information from online platforms or search engines.
Reduces the Risk of Harm: The right to be forgotten can help reduce the risk of harm to individuals by preventing their personal information from being used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft.
Supports Freedom of Expression: The right to be forgotten can support freedom of expression by allowing individuals to control their personal information and ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date.
Here are some of the key challenges of the right to be forgotten:
Limitations on free speech: The right to be forgotten can potentially limit freedom of speech and the public’s right to access information, as it can result in the removal of legitimate and important information from online platforms or search engines.
Technical challenges: The implementation of the right to be forgotten can be technically challenging, as it requires online platforms and search engines to develop complex systems for managing and removing personal information.
Conflicts with other legal rights: The right to be forgotten can conflict with other legal rights, such as the right to access information, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to conduct research and journalism.
Other Government Steps to Protect Privacy
The government has taken several steps to protect privacy in India. Here are some of the key steps taken by the government:
- Aadhaar Act: The Aadhaar Act was enacted in 2016 to establish a unique identification system for Indian residents. The act includes provisions related to data protection and privacy, including the requirement to obtain consent from individuals before collecting their personal information.
- Personal Data Protection Bill: The government introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill in 2019, which aims to provide a comprehensive framework for the protection of personal data in India. The bill includes provisions related to data privacy, data localization, and the right to be forgotten.
- The Cyber Security Policy: The Indian government introduced the National Cyber Security Policy in 2013, which includes measures to protect personal data from cyber threats and enhance cybersecurity in India.
- IT Act: The Information Technology Act was enacted in 2000 to provide legal recognition for electronic transactions and protect electronic records and data. The act includes provisions related to data privacy and data protection.
Overall, the right to be forgotten is still in the process of development in India, and there is no specific case that has been solely responsible for its development. Moreover, with the recognition of the right to privacy as a fundamental right and the introduction of the Personal Data Protection Bill, the right to be forgotten is gaining increasing attention from both the courts and the legislature in India.
However, it is important to carefully balance the right to be forgotten with other legal and social interests, such as freedom of expression and access to information, in order to ensure that it is used in a responsible and ethical manner.
Article Written By: Priti Raj