The Right to Be Forgotten

Privacy and Security and Internet

Article Snapshot


Jeffrey Rosen


Stanford Law Review Online, 2012


The European Union (EU) has created a new privacy right, the right to be forgotten. Individuals can insist that information about themselves be deleted.

Policy Relevance

The right to be forgotten threatens free speech on the Internet.

Main Points

  • In 2012, the EU’s proposed creating a new privacy right, the right to be forgotten.
  • The new right entitles an individual to require that information about himself be deleted by an information-hosting service like Facebook or Google, unless the service has a reason to keep the information.
  • An exception to the right to be forgotten protects information posted for journalistic, literary, or artistic purposes.
  • Protecting an individual’s right to remove information that he has posted online himself does not threaten free speech.
  • Serious threats to free speech from the right to be forgotten arise when an individual requests the deletion of information about himself that was authored by someone else.
  • In the United States, publication of truthful but embarrassing information is protected free speech under the first amendment.
  • In practice, the EU might apply the right narrowly.


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