Right to be Forgotten (RTBF)


In K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India case, Supreme Court recognised Right to be Forgotten (RTBF) as part of right to life under Article 21.

What is RTBF?

It empowers individuals to ask organisations (like google) to delete their personal data.

Draft Personal Data Protection Bill 2018 (Based on Justice BN Srikrishna Committee report) refers RTBF as the ability of an individual to limit, delink, delete, or correct the disclosure of the personal information on the internet that is misleading, embarrassing, or irrelevant.

Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy judgement stated that the RTBF was subject to certain restrictions, and that it could not be used if the material in question was required for the:

  • exercise of right to freedom of expression and information.
  • fulfilment of legal responsibilities.
  • execution of a duty in the public interest or public health. o protection of information in public interest.
  • for purpose of scientific or historical study, or for statistical purposes; or
  • establishment, executing, or defending of legal claims.

International context

  • The "right to be forgotten" was first established in May 2014 in the European Union as the result of a ruling by the European Court of Justice.
  • The ‘right to erasure’ in General Data Protection Regulation 2018 adopted by EU is simlar to the RTBF
  • Russia passed a law in 2015 that allows citizens to delist a link from Russian search engines if it “violates Russian laws or if the information is false or has become obsolete”,
  • Turkey and Serbia also have their versions of right to be forgotten.

Issues associated

  • Right to be forgotten gets in conflict with the right to information
  • It is also in conflict with freedom of speech
  • Scattered data on internet makes it near impossible to erase data from different websites
  • Deleted data can be uploaded again

Way forward

  • Balancing right to privacy and freedom of speech and Right To Information.
  • Strong Data Protection Policy - to prevent misuse, leakage of data.
  • Balance between RTBF & public interest: If the information is of public interest, the right to information should prevails over RTBF.
  • Discard data: Online search tools and large computerised stages can modify their principles and destroy information after a specific time frame thus balancing RTBF and Right to Privacy.

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StructurePrelims 360 Course includes GS 360 - Complete coverage cum revision of GS Prelims subjectsCSAT 360 - Complete coverage cum revision of CSAT for PrelimsPrelims Test Series - includes both GS (16 tests )and CSAT (5 tests)Current affairs coverage through weekly sessionsOne to one mento…

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