The Right to Be Forgotten Across the Pond

23 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2012 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014

See all articles by Meg Leta Jones

Meg Leta Jones

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology

Jef Ausloos

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR)

Date Written: September 21, 2012


The ‘right to be forgotten’ has gained increasing traction and significant debate on both sides of the Atlantic since the popularization of Viktor Mayer-Schonberger’s 2009 book, Delete. The term has caused a great deal of media speculation since the European Commission’s proposal for a new Data Protection Regulation in January 2012. The United State has also proposed a ‘right to be forgotten’ for children through an amendment to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This article offers a brief history of the interest in individual liberation from one’s informational past and analyzes the legislative language of the proposed right from each region. It then sorts conceptual conflation of the interest as it is brought into the Digital Age, outlining the many possible applications of the right as it is currently articulated. The article argues that the concept of ‘oblivion’ is quite distinct from the concept of ‘erasure,’ and should be treated as such. It then critically analyzes the implementation of the right to erasure, the more imminent of the two. The goal of this paper is to provide readers with a more comprehensive background on the right to be forgotten and argue for both conceptual and legal distinction to be made between erasure and oblivion.

Keywords: privacy, right to be forgotten, international law, data

JEL Classification: K19, K29, K39

Suggested Citation

Jones, Meg and Ausloos, Jef, The Right to Be Forgotten Across the Pond (September 21, 2012). 2012 TRPC, Journal of Information Policy, Volume 3 (2013), pg. 1-23. Available at SSRN: or

Meg Jones (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Communication, Culture, and Technology ( email )

3520 Prospect St NW
Suite 311
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Jef Ausloos

University of Amsterdam - Institute for Information Law (IViR) ( email )

Roeterseilandcampus, Building A, 5th floor
Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland 1018 WV


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