Work in Progress: The European “Right To be Forgotten” – Legal and Technical Challenges of Search Engines Complying With The Right to Erasure

Jan Rensinghoff, Florian Farke, Markus Dürmuth, Tobias Gostomzyk

AoIR 2019: Trust in the System (AoIR '19). Brisbane, Australia, October 2, 2019


The new European right to be forgotten (Art. 17 of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) grants EU citizens the right to demand the erasure of their personal data from anyone who processes their personal data. To enforce this right to erasure may be a problem for many of those data processors. On the one hand, they need to examine any claim to remove search results. On the other hand, they have to balance conflicting rights in order to prevent over-blocking and the accusation of censorship.

The paper examines the criteria which are potentially involved in the decision-making process of search engines when it comes to the right to erasure. We present an approach helping search engine operators and individuals to assess and decide whether search results may have to be deleted or not. Our goal is to make this process more transparent and consistent, providing more legal certainty for both the search engine operator and the person concerned by the search result in question. As a result, we develop a model to estimate the chances of success to delete a particular search result for a given person. This is a work in progress.

tags: Automation, Digital Forgetting, machine learning, right to be forgotten