Civil Society Groups Set the Record Straight on “Right to be Forgotten”

Brussels — On September 9th, a coalition 11 European and international digital rights groups submitted a letter to the Google Advisory Council to set the record straight about the so-called “right to be forgotten” and to address misrepresentations of a recent European Court of Justice ruling.

The ECJ’s decision requires search providers like Google to remove search results based on a person’s name when information is outdated, irrelevant, excessive, or inaccurate. However, this ruling has been subject to a number of misunderstandings about its context and scope.

“The reality is, companies like Google are NOT required to ‘wipe information from the web,’ said Raegan MacDonald, Access European Policy Manager. “The content will remain on the internet and in Google’s index.”

The letter also provides recommendations to the Council ahead of meetings that have been scheduled in several EU capitals to ensure that Google’s implementation of the ruling is transparent, accountable, and in line with fundamental rights.

The EU is close to passing landmark legislation that would secure the privacy rights of millions — but public misperceptions of the ECJ’s ruling risk undermining this important reform effort. In their letter, these 11 groups seek to clarify the implications of the ECJ’s ruling to ensure that rumor and hearsay aren’t the final word on citizens’ privacy rights.

“Ongoing revelations about mass surveillance have shown the need for strong and enforceable rules that protect our fundamental rights to privacy and data protection,” continued MacDonald. “Hyperbole and misinformation must not get in the way of these essential protections.”