In the last few years there has been a lot of buzz around a so-called ‘right to be forgotten.’ Especially in Europe, this catchphrase is heavily debated in the media, in court and by regulators. Since a clear definition has not emerged (yet), the following article will try to raise the veil on this vague concept. The first part will weigh the right's pros and cons against each other. It will appear that the ‘right to be forgotten’ clearly has merit, but needs better definition to avoid any negative consequences. As such, the right is nothing more than a way to give (back) individuals control over their personal data and make the consent regime more effective. The second part will then evaluate the potential implementation of the right. Measures are required at the normative, economical, technical, as well as legislative level. The article concludes by proposing a ‘right to be forgotten’ that is limited to data-processing situations where the individual has given his or her consent. Combined with a public-interest exception, this should (partially) restore the power balance and allow individuals a more effective control over their personal data.Ausloos concludes that there is merit in an ‘right to be forgotten’, arguing that the right has a well-defined scope and could be established, including an exception-clause to avoid any negative consequences a broader interpretation would entail.
The ‘right to be forgotten’, therefore, should definitely not be ‘forgotten’. Instead, a potential adoption of the right should be thought through thoroughly and not be the result of a panic reaction to the events of the day. The main objective should always be to give individuals a balanced control over their personal data. An adequate implementation of the ‘right to be forgotten’ will definitely contribute to a shift in the power balance, to the benefit of each and every individual in the information society.