The key to success with your right to be forgotten application is to do whatever you can to give your right to be forgotten submission a higher likelihood of success. Submitting a right to be forgotten application looks really easy. Google makes it look simple and it would encourage you to make the submission yourself. Be careful though! A right to be forgotten submission is a legal document that you might need to refer to later on. It therefore needs to be drafted accordingly.
A right to be forgotten submission is a legal document
A Right to be forgotten submission is a legal document. It sets out your legal request to the search engine provider or to content editors to stop processing your personal data. Like any other legal document, to stand a higher likelihood of success, you will most likely want your right to be forgotten submission and any subsequent documents to be drafted appropriately.
A right to be forgotten submission is often only the first step in having unwanted content removed from Google and from other search engines. In too many cases, you will need to follow it up with further action. It might be an explanation, clarification, a legal argument or just an effective nudge. In more complex cases, there will already be an autosuggestion appearing on search results, images that link to the articles or other issues that will need to be professionally addressed in order for your right to be forgotten submission to be effective.
An effective right to be forgotten submission needs to either cause the de-listing of unwanted data from the search engine or form strong foundations for future communications with the search engine provider and/or third parties such as the Information Commissioner’s Office or the court. If you case ever need to be escalated, your initial right to be forgotten submission will form a major part of future action. For this reason alone, you might feel it is important to have your right to be forgotten submission drafted professionally by a specialist lawyer.
Often, after you submit a Right to be Forgotten Request, the search engine provider will ask you to provide additional information and/or clarifications. This is where it is important to make relevant references to facts, laws and previous decisions to help your request succeed.
Our Right to be Forgotten solicitors professionally prepare and draft each right to be forgotten application. Commonly, there are search engine providers who are too quick to decline requests so we make sure they give reasons so that we can then challenge the search engine using facts and law. Often we draft an a follow up appeal to the search engine provider and/or a substantive appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office and/or a full GDPR Notice, as appropriate in each individual case. You therefore might want to consider obtaining legal advice before submitting a Right to be Forgotten Request. The advice will maximise your likelihood of success.
How to prepare a successful right to be forgotten submission
If you have decided to prepare the right to be forgotten submission yourself, pay particular attention to the section which is titled "reason for erasure request". This forms the main structure for your right to be forgotten request. The reality is that there might be two individuals who submit a right to be forgotten request under similar circumstances and who will receive different outcome decisions from Google or Bing. What often makes the difference is what the search engines like to describe as "public interest" exception. This means that in the search engine view, despite all the reasons that exist to have links to articles de-listed (for example an expired criminal conviction), the articles should still be linked to in search results.
On some occasions the search engine decision of what might constitute public interest, has clearly been emotionally motivated. For example, people who had been take to court, and not necessarily even convicted, had their right to be forgotten request to remove news articles about their trial refused. At the same time, those who had been in a similar situations but who faced other type of allegations, for example, theft, had their right to be forgotten request accepted.
Another aspect of the right to be forgotten request that might give rise to a refusal to de-list is the opinion of the Google employee that the individual making the request has not expressed sufficient remorse, that they are dangerous, that that they are simply unkind people.