Chicago Journal of International Law

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Since the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in Google Spain in 2014, the global legal discourse on the “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) has accelerated the RTBF’s establishment as a right to informational privacy. But international courts have varied in their interpretations and applications of the RTBF, with some embracing it and others being wary of balancing the right with freedom of expression. While de-indexing search engine results was the primary method of facilitating the RTBF in Google Spain, this method has not necessarily informed many courts’ RTBF decisions. Instead, international and foreign courts are increasingly finding that anonymizing or removing original stories linked to internet users is not necessarily the best approach, and that updates, corrections, and responses to contested stories are often preferable options. Over time, global judicial procedures have evolved to deal with the RTBF in a more sophisticated manner, clarifying its conceptual and theoretical boundaries. Notably, non-EU countries have made significant contributions to the legal discussion on how to balance the RTBF with freedom of expression, as evidenced by the Brazilian Supreme Court. The RTBF will undoubtedly continue to be an important part of the “privacy versus free expression” debate, with the balance shifting toward the right to privacy.

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