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Diritto all’oblio

Het recht om vergeten te worden

A German convict of murder in 1982 has the right to be remove from the result of online search engine. That has been decide by the highest German court. Since 2014, ‘the diritto all oblio gdpr‘, also know as the right to forget or the right to be forgot, applicable in the European Union. 

This means that EU citizens can ask organizations to have certain outdated or incorrect privacy-sensitive information removed. In practice, it is often use to remove the search result of search on a person’s name from online search engine. The German, who was convict of the murder of two people on a sailing yacht in the Caribbean, was release in 2002.


A book and documentary about the case was publish. The German weekly Der Spiegel also put some old articles online about the murder in 1999. They can still be found by search engine. When the German man found out in 2009, he wanted his name removed from the search results, because he said they “sampled his opportunity for personal development”. 

In 2012, a federal court ruled that his individual rights did not outweigh the public interest and freedom of the press. The search results about his case were allow to remain online. Two years later, the right to be forgot was adopt in the EU. The right to be forgot is laid down in Article 17 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Those who wish to exercise this right must contact the owner of the search engine itself, the European Court of Justice decided on 13 May 2014.

Het Cotija-arrest

The reason for the diritto all oblio stems from a case similar to that of the German man. A Spaniard named Cotija filed a lawsuit because the Google search engine retrieved a 1998 newspaper article announcing the forced sale of his possessions. Because the man thought that the information had lost its relevance in the meantime and therefore only damaged his reputation he started a lawsuit against the newspaper and Google.

The judge ruled in favor of the Spaniard. Google therefore had to remove the relevant search result for Cotija. Although the newspaper article itself could remain online. Since then search engines such as Google can be regard as processor of personal data, so that such company are now subject to the European Privacy Directive.

Uitspraak uit 2012 vernietigd

On Thursday it was announce that the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has overturn the 2012 judge’s verdict in the German’s case. In this case, the individual right to be forgot of the German man outweigh the right to freedom of information. Archive article about the case will remain online for the time being. But media can be individually force to remove them.

Privacy tegenover publiek belang

The right to be forgot conflict with two fundamental right under the European Convention on Human Right. The right to privacy and the right to freedom of information. Therefore with every request to remove search result. The correctness and relevance of the information is alway take into account and in addition.

Last but not least the importance of the privacy of the person concern. Is weigh against the public interest that this information remain available. In the case of the German man the public interest does not outweigh the right to privacy. Because the case took place a long time ago the man has already been convict and has already been release.

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