Bafna Law Associates

The Enigma of Right To Be Forgotten In India's Digital – Era.

Blog by – Shaily Jain

Date – 11 Mar 2024

Understanding the Right to be Forgotten Although the idea of the Right to be Forgotten is not entirely new, it has gained popularity in recent years due to the prevalence of information on the internet and how much of an impact it can have on people’s lives. The right to privacy and the right to govern one’s personal data are both expanded by this privilege. People can use it to ask for the deletion of particular pieces of online content or links that include personal information about them, especially if it is incorrect, out-dated, or otherwise no longer relevant.

In India, the context of data protection and privacy regulations is where this right is most frequently debated upon. The legal framework for data protection and the Right to be Forgotten is provided by the Personal Data Protection Bill, which was passed in 2023. However, this right’s application and interpretation in the digital age are still being developed.

Cui Bono?
The Latin term “cui bono” (which means “to whose benefit?”) is frequently used to inquire about the motivations behind a course of action or policy. We must analyze who is benefited by the Right to be Forgotten in the Indian context while thinking about it in this digital age.

Individuals: People who want to safeguard their privacy and have control over their online appearance are the most obvious beneficiaries of the Right to be Forgotten. They can use this privilege to correct errors, remove unrelated information, and preserve their reputation.

Privacy Advocates: In order to protect individual privacy in the digital era, privacy advocates have long supported the Right to be Forgotten. They contend that it is a crucial instrument to balance off the pervasiveness of online information.

Online reputation management businesses: These businesses have discovered a developing market as a result of the Right to be Forgotten movement. These services assist people and businesses in controlling their digital footprints and making sure their online reputation is accurate and favorable.

Companies in the technology and search engine industries are also impacted by this right. They gain from unambiguous legal rules that specify when and how content should be deleted. This transparency lessens their legal liability and improves their interaction with users.

Advocates for freedom of expression and journalists: On the other hand, journalists and supporters of free speech voice worries about possible censorship. They contend that the Right to be Forgotten might be used to hinder investigative reporting and hide material that is vital to the public.

Privacy vs. Freedom of Expression: A Balancing Act
The right to be forgotten requires a constant balancing act between the right of a person to privacy and the right of society to access information. This balance is particularly difficult to achieve in the modern world. Even though some people may desire to forget their past, the right of the public to know cannot totally be compromised.

Indian law must precisely outline the parameters of this right in order to remedy this. When determining whether to allow requests for removal, it should consider elements like the sensitivity of the information, the public interest, and the passage of time.

The Challenges of Implementation
It’s not easy to put the Right to Be Forgotten into practice. Due to the huge number of internet users and online platforms in India, it is both logistically and legally difficult to enforce this right. Additionally, there is a chance that this ability may be abused by people or organizations that will try to distort their internet reputation.

Search engines and online platforms also have to deal with the difficulties presented by cross-border data demands. Numerous digital goliaths operate internationally, necessitating collaboration and conformity to various legal frameworks. However, the recent introduction of the Digital India Act, 2023 (DIA) constitutes a major milestone toward developing a future-ready legal framework for the country’s booming digital economy.

The need for DIA,2023
The current Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 has been revised and amended, for example, by the IT Act Amendment of 2008 and the IT Rules of 2011. Originally intended to safeguard e-commerce transactions and identify cybercrime charges, it has failed to meet the growing digital world and the complex nature of data privacy rights correctly.

So far, changes have been made to align the legislation with the changing dynamics of the digital environment. However, the original act’s intrinsic shortcomings remain, since it was not designed to address the complexities of today’s cybersecurity environment or sufficiently secure data privacy.

With the sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks rapidly increasing, there is an acknowledged need for a more thorough replacement of existing digital laws. The present IT Act may be insufficient to keep up with the ever-changing nature of digital dangers.

In response, the proposed Digital India Act aims to close these gaps while also acting as a boost for the Indian economy. The new act aims to stimulate innovation and assist entrepreneurs while also addressing crucial concerns concerning Indian people’ digital safety, trust, and responsibility.

The Right to Be Forgotten has important consequences for privacy, freedom of expression, and the power dynamic between users and technology businesses in the digital era. It can give people crucial control over how they appear online, but it must be used carefully to prevent weakening the public’s right to access information.

Policymakers, legal professionals, and stakeholders must work together to find a balance that respects individual privacy while respecting the ideals of openness, accountability, and freedom of speech in the digital era as India continues to struggle with the complexity of this right. In the end, a society that respects both individual privacy and the right of the public to know should be the “cui bono” of the Right to be Forgotten in India.

The Enigma of Right to Be Forgotten in India’s Digital Era.
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