The Right to be Forgotten – Explained

The rise of social media platforms and the use on the internet as a research tool to obtain personal information about employers, employees, business contacts, associates and customers, means that individuals are often faced with their personal information, videos and photographs being readily available to the public. Whilst this is often harmless, occasionally it could be damaging to your personal brand.   Our expert commercial litigation solicitors explain your rights when it comes to trying to remove your information from search enginges.

What is the right to be forgotten?

The right to be forgotten allows an individual, in certain circumstances, to request that a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo remove links to websites that contain personal information about an individual that is irrelevant, inaccurate, excessive or out of date.

Examples of the types of requests that have been accepted by Google are:

  • Requests for the removal of links to articles detailing an individual's criminal convictions, particular those which are now considered spent.
  • Requests by a victim of crime for the removal of web address links to articles detailing the crime and where they are named in the article.
  • Requests by individuals to remove web address links to embarrassing information on social networks or online dating sites.

If a search engine agrees to the removal of the web address links to a website containing an individual's personal information these links must be removed across all domains owned by the search engine.

How do I request that my personal data is deleted?

Search engines such as Google and Bing have online forms for individuals to complete. A robust application setting out why the personal information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive is key, as is providing examples as to how you've been affected by your personal information being readily available online. The online form can be completed by the individual affected or by a representative on their behalf.  It is a requirement that a copy of the individual's identification is submitted to confirm that the individual consents to the request being made.

Will I be successful?

The right to be forgotten is not an absolute right; each case will be assessed on a case by case basis. Search engines are required to balance the need to protect an individual's rights to privacy with public interest, the freedom of expression and the freedom of the media. In other words access to a website containing  an individual's personal information will be removed from search engine results if the impact to the individual of that information being available is far greater than public interest in its content.

At the time of writing this article, the Google Transparency report confirms that since the launch of their official request process it has received 670,529 requests for the removal of web address links and 43.2% of search links have been removed.

Do I have the right to appeal?

If a search engine rejects a request for the removal of web address links on its search engine to a website containing an individual's personal information, that individual may request that their local data protection authority review the search engine's decision.

Do I have any other options?

In the alternative an individual can request that the individual or organisation that published the web page containing the personal information is removed.  This may be the preferred option in place of or in addition to a right to be forgotten request because the removal of the web address links by the search engine does not stop an individual from accessing the information on the website directly or through other search engines.


Whilst the process of requesting the removal of web address links from search engines is designed to be user friendly the circumstances for which an individual may be entitled to make a request to a search engine is incredibly broad. Having Saunders Law advise you and draft the request on your behalf can strengthen your position. We will assess the circumstances under which you believe you have an entitlement and we will provide straightforward advice.

Saunders Law is a specialist Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice which has an experienced & professional commercial litigation team. We have experience of representing private individuals, SMEs, global PLCs, media companies and charities in contentious matters. If you would like assistance in completing the right to be forgotten request form or require further information Saunders Law would be pleased to assist.

Please contact us on 02076324300 or complete the online enquiry form


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