The Right to be Forgotten

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, Health and Education conducted an inquiry on the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the right to be forgotten.

Status: Inquiry concluded and Report published.


On 13 May 2014, the CJEU made a ruling on the applicability of the provisions of the 1995 Data Protection Directive to search engine results.

Key issues

The CJEU adress four key issues in its judgment:

  • the material scope of the Directive, i.e. whether it applies to search engines;
  • the terroritorial scope of the Directive, i.e whether it applies to Google Spain, given that the parent company is based in Silicon Valley, San Francisco;
  • the responsibility of search engine operators; and
  • the concept of the 'right to be forgotten', i.e. the right of an invidual to insist that his or her history be removed from accessibility via a search engine.

The CJEU ruled in its judgment that search engine providers are data controllers in respect of the processing of personal data carried out by the search engine.

The CJEU concluded that web user have the right to directly request from the search engine the deletion of the links to web pages containing information breaching their rights under the Directive, even if the publication of the information on the web pages in question is lawful in itself.

Google has already responded to the ruling by creating a 'right to be forgotten' online search removal request for the deletion of search results. Press reports suggest that over 10,000 requests per day have since been submitted.



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Members Interests

Members' interests in relation to this inquiry

The Members of the Sub-Committees have declared the following interests in relation to this inquiry:

Members are required to register any financial and non-financial interests that a reasonable member of the public might think would influence their actions in Parliament. The full text of the Register is available online: