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THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN – AN OVERVIEW

INTRODUCTION

Since it has completely taken over the world, the internet has become an essential component of Everyone’s daily existence. It also means that all the user’s personal information and data will be stored on the internet, however, this might be avoided with the user’s permission. This has led to a rise in interest in ensuring the privacy of personal information and, by extension, the desire for legal protection to protect such data. The highest court of the land ruled in the 2018 case[1]  in the favor of the plaintiff and established, Article 21 of the Constitution of India[2] is a “cardinal right”. Hence, the “RTBF” is no longer a theoretical concept but a widely accepted standard. The Sri Krishna Commission will be led by B.N. Sri Krishna, a former Supreme Court justice appointed by the government. In 2018, the committee drafted a bill to realize its goal of developing a workable Data Privacy Framework that would take into account the many existing laws dealing with securing data and allowing their execution and enforcement[3].

The right to be forgotten will be covered in detail by the author of this blog post, along with its description of the Indian Constitution and other laws and constitutions.

DEFINITION OF ‘RTBF’?

The” Right to Be Forgotten “(shortened “RTBF” from here on out) can be defined as “the privilege of having one’s records deleted when they are no longer needed to fulfill a legal purpose”[4].

AN OVERVIEW

RTBF can be best understood by familiarizing oneself with European Union data privacy legislation as the “(GDPR)”. The “Sri Krishna committee’s” proposed law must emphasize the phrase constantly. Section twenty-seven of the proposed law is titled “The Right to be Forgotten”. Forget, the past tense of the verb comes from the Middle High Germanic term Vergetten, the Modern German word Vergessen, and the earlier Middle High Germanic verb firgazzen, all of which imply losing the remembrance of The word forgotten comes from two different Old English words forgotten which first occurred in the 1990s in the Wessex Gospel (an English Bible without any Latin text) and forgotten which first appeared in the Anglican Interpretation of Boethius Gratification of Learning, commissioned by Emperor Alfred.”. The term was written with the initials forgotten in both cases. Through time, it progressively took on the form of forgotten, the past tense of the verb forget which means fail to remember, according to the English dictionary by Oxford and Chambers.[5]

India has been making greater efforts towards the RTBF in recent years. Judge K.S. Puttuswamy (Retired) V. Union of India[6]  is the name of the court case in which the SC (Supreme Court) ruled that RTBF was part of the right to privacy, although it left the matter open to future court interpretation. This came after the court ruled that, the “right to privacy” is promised by “Article 21” of the “Indian Constitution”.

IN SOME CASES WHERE RTBF FINDS A MENTION

It was requested that the name of the “appellant’s daughter” be erased from the entirety of the electronic records in the case “Vasunathan v. Registrar General, (2017)”, which was brought before the court in response to multiple petitions filed under Articles 226 and 227[7].  The argument states that the decisions that have already been made should not be made available by search engines so that everyone can view them. The petitioner’s primary concern was to shield his daughter’s good name and reputation after she was named as a party in this lawsuit after she was impleaded as a defendant. In the petitioner’s mind, this was cause for alarm since a search for her daughter’s name would yield judgment, which in turn would expose personal information about the petitioner.

Given that the lawsuit was brought against her husband and that the two of them had since patched things up, this would be detrimental to both her life as a functioning member of society and her relationship with her spouse. The petition called for the elimination of all digital material or, at the very least, for it to be rendered unavailable to the public for viewing. The High Court subsequently ordered the Registry to delete the credentials of the petitioner’s female offspring from internet databases. However, the High Court did not make any adjustments to or erase the information from the High court website, which is fascinating enough. The plaintiff in “Zulfiqaar Ahman Khan v. Quintilloin Business Media Pvt. Ltd. & Ors” claimed that the author had published two pieces slandering the plaintiff after receiving information about the #MeToo movement, prompting the plaintiff to file a lawsuit against the author and the company where the author worked. [8] The lawsuit was filed because the author had written articles that were critical of the Plaintiff. The injunction was filed against the reports that were published on October 12, 2018, and October 31, 2018, respectively. The plaintiff claimed that he had been put through great mental anguish and emotional torment because of the publications that were made about him on the website that is owned by Quintillion Business Media Pvt. Ltd., which is known as ‘www.quint.com.’ The allegations that were made against him were said to be groundless and pointless. The argument advanced by the plaintiff was that he should have been provided with a warning since, in the absence of such information, the publications and republications in question would have been one-sided, thereby damaging the plaintiff’s social image.

The HC (“High Court”) considered and acknowledged the “RtP” of the appellant, of which the “RTBF” and  “Right to be Left Alone”, are the two parts, and enjoined publication of the original articles dated Oct 12th, Oct 31st, the year 2018, as well as any snippets thereafter, in any print, digital, or electronic medium during the suit, was pending[9].

These are some of the instances in which RTBF was brought up.

THE PDP BILL 2018

The government has drafted the “PDP Bill, 2018”[10] in response to suggestions made by the Sri Krishna committee. Consequences under the Personal Data Protection Law would be comparable to those imposed by “European (GDPR)”. The fact that the freedom offered to the states is more on the ambiguous side and is more unclear in comparison to the GDPR raises the possibility that it could be used in some other way. This is something that should be taken into consideration here. One more thing to worry about is the fact that it has constitutional inconsistencies[11] . A person is allowed to publish online criticism of another individual within the context of exercising his basic “right to freedom of thought, word, and deed” of Article nineteen, subject to the limitations of Article 19 (2)[12]. Two of the most basic human rights, the rights to free speech, expression, and forgetting must coexist peacefully.

CONCLUSION

To protect people’s privacy and ensure that their “RTBF” is completely respected, the clauses of the “Personal Data Protection Law” must be read and used in a way that protects those rights. The establishment of this right as legislation and regulations in our country is still in its adolescence. In conclusion, the blog’s author underscores the importance of finding a middle ground between the RTBF and the “right to freedom of thought, word, and deed”. Hence, to achieve a balance between different people’s rights, it is up to the government to decide how far an individual’s ‘right to be forgotten’ should go.

Author(s) Name: Laasya Sarojini (National Law University Odisha)

[1]  Justice K.S.Puttuswamy(Retd.) v Union of India (2018) (Civil) Petition No.494/2012

[2] The Constitution of India, 1950, Article 21 

[3]  “Commitee of Xperts under the Chair of ‘Justice B.N. Srikrishna’, Report on a Free, and Fair Digital Economy: Protecting Privacy, and Empowering Indians (2018) <https://meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Data_Protection_Commitee_Report.pdf> accessed 5 February 2023

[4] “Jef Ausloos, The ‘RTBF’ – Worth remembering? Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 28, Issue 2, 2012, Pages 143-152, <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clsr.2012.01.006>  accessed  5 February 2023

[5] “Ashvinee Kumar, THE RTBF IN A DIGITAL AGE: A Relative Analysis of the Indian PDP Bill, 2018 &amp; The GDPR, HPNLU SHIMLA, II SML. L. REV. 75 (2019) <https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3821596> accessed 5 February 2023

[6]  K.S. Puttuswamy (Retired) V. Union of India, 26 Sept., 2018 <https://indiankanoon.org/doc/127517806/> accessed 6 February 2023

[7] “Vasunanthan v. Registar General, (2017) SCC Online Kar 424

[8] Zulfiqaar Ahman Khan v. Quintilloin Business Media Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. AIR 2019 132

[9] “Nikhil Aswani, ‘THE RTBF AND ITS ADMINISTRATION IN INDIA’ (2020) 6 (3) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS AND ALLIED ISSUES, 113 <https://thelawbrigade.com//wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Nikhil-IJLDAI.pdf> accessed 6 February 2023

[10] https://www.meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Personal_Data_Protection_Bill,2018.pdf

[11]  Komal Khare and Devarshy Mishra, Contextualizing the RTBF in the Constitution of India: Juxtaposing RtP and Right to Free Speech, Constitutional and Administrative Law Quarterly, CALQ (2017) Vol. 3 Issue II, accessed 6 February 2023

[12] TConstitution of India 1950, Article 19(2)