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  • Maria Aomari

The right to digital oblivion before the ECHR

The Strasbourg Court ruled that there had been no breach of the right to freedom of expression by the publisher of the newspaper Le Soir, which had been ordered to anonymise the identity of a convicted offender in the name of the "right to be forgotten".



It all began in 2008, when the Belgian newspaper Le Soir - one of the country's leading French-language news dailies - decided to make its archives available electronically on its website. Among many other archives, it posted an article from 1994 about a fatal road accident caused by G., a doctor. He had served a prison sentence and been rehabilitated.


G. then asked the newspaper to anonymise the article or put deference tags so that it no longer appeared in the list of search results linked to his name. The newspaper refused, but officially asked Google Belgium - which never replied - to dereference the article.

Faced with the publisher's refusal, G. decided to bring a civil action before the Belgian courts and won: Le Soir was ordered to replace G.'s identity with the letter X. The domestic courts relied on the right to digital oblivion, confirmed by the Court of Justice, to establish the newspaper's obligation to act in response to G.'s request.


Taking the view that the domestic courts' decision infringed the freedom of expression protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the publisher turned to the European courts to put forward its arguments once again.




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