What is the significance of recent SC judgement on ‘Right to be forgotten’?

Recently, the Supreme Court recognised the ‘right to be forgotten’ as part of ‘right to privacy’ and ordered to develop a mechanism of removing personal details of litigants involved in matrimonial litigation. The bench was considering a plea of women which noted that; her personal information should either be deleted or masked from judgement of her case because the judgement is easily accessible to public.

  • Though the judgement masked women’s identity, but revealed the identity of her husband, though which acquaintances were able to link her with the case.
  • This was leading to immense loss for her, through social stigma.
  • She maintained that, such kind of public visibility was against her right to privacy, which also include the right to be forgotten.

Right of be forgotten can be defined as;

The right to have private information removed from internet, in specific circumstances. The right allows individual to decide the course of life in an autonomous way, without being ‘stigmatised’ because of an action of the past. It is a part of right to privacy, which was recognised by Supreme Court in Puttaswamy case, implicitly in Article 21. Right to be forgotten came to limelight in 2014 in Google Spain Case at Court of Justice of the European Union. In India, this right is also recognised under the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019.

Significance of the Right to be forgotten include:

  • Allows an individual to control what information anyone access.
  • Can remove defamatory and false information form the internet.
  • Allows to remove illegally uploaded content by a third party.
  • Allows to remove details that have become threat to personal and financial security.

In India, there is no legal standard for right to be forgotten currently. However, if the recent judgement of Supreme Court is implemented, citizens would no longer require to file a case making requests to remove information from search engines and other public platforms.

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