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Right to erasure

Right to erasure

(also right to be forgotten)

Right to erasure definition

The right to erasure allows individuals to request a company or online business to delete their personal data. Users can ask for their data to be removed in certain circumstances, such as when the company doesn’t need it for the original purpose anymore or if it uses it for direct marketing. The right to erasure is a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principle in the European Union, meaning companies are legally required to consider these requests. It came into effect in 2018.

See also: GDPR

When does the right to erasure apply?

You can request a company or online platform to remove your data if:

  • The company doesn’t need the data for the original purpose (e.g., an online shopping account you no longer use).
  • The company collected the data when you gave consent, but now you withdraw that consent.
  • There’s no strong reason for a company to keep processing your data.
  • The company uses your data for direct marketing, and you don’t want it to do so anymore.
  • Your data was handled unlawfully.
  • There’s a legal requirement to delete it.
  • Your data was used to provide online services to a child.

How right to erasure works

  1. You ask a company or organization to delete your data. You can do so by email, a contact form, or customer support — whichever method is provided on the website or platform.
  2. The company checks if there’s a good reason to delete your data. For example, if they don’t need it anymore or if you withdraw your consent.
  3. If they find a valid reason, they remove your data from their records or systems.
  4. They also ask any other companies they shared your data with to delete it.
  5. Sometimes, a company may not delete your data even if you’ve asked them to. For the company to refuse, there must be valid reasons, such as a legal obligation to keep it.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security

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