The term “right to be forgotten” is used today to represent a multitude of rights, and this fact causes difficulties in interpretation, analysis, and comprehension of such rights. These rights have become of utmost importance due to the increased risks to the privacy of individuals on the Internet, where social media, blogs, fora, and other outlets have entered into common use as part of human expression. Search engines, as Internet intermediaries, have been enrolled to assist in the attempt to regulate the Internet, and the rights falling under the moniker of the “right to be forgotten,” without truly knowing the extent of the related rights. In part to alleviate such problems, and focusing on digital technology and media, this paper proposes a taxonomy to identify various rights from different countries, which today are often regrouped under the banner “right to be forgotten,” and to do so in an understandable and coherent way. As an integral part of this exercise, this study aims to measure the extent to which there is a convergence of legal rules internationally in order to regulate private life on the Internet and to elucidate the impact that the important Google Spain “right to be forgotten” ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union has had on law in other jurisdictions on this matter.
This paper will first introduce the definition and context of the “right to be forgotten.” Second, it will trace some of the sources of the rights discussed around the world to survey various forms of the “right to be forgotten” internationally and propose a taxonomy. This work will allow for a determination on whether there is a convergence of norms regarding the “right to be forgotten” and, more generally, with respect to privacy and personal data protection laws. Finally, this paper will provide certain criteria for the relevant rights and organize them into a proposed analytical grid to establish more precisely the proposed taxonomy of the “right to be forgotten” for the use of scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and students alike.