Timing the Right to Be Forgotten: A Study into “Time” as a Factor in Deciding About Retention or Erasure of Data

  • Paulan KorenhofEmail author
  • Jef Ausloos
  • Ivan Szekely
  • Meg Ambrose
  • Giovanni Sartor
  • Ronald Leenes
Part of the Law, Governance and Technology Series book series (LGTS, volume 20)


The so-called “Right to Be Forgotten or Erasure” (RTBF), article 17 of the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, provides individuals with a means to oppose the often persistent digital memory of the Web. Because digital information technologies affect the accessibility of information over time and time plays a fundamental role in biological forgetting, ‘time’ is a factor that should play a pivotal role in the RTBF. This chapter explores the roles that ‘time’ plays and could play in decisions regarding the retention or erasure of data. Two roles are identified: (1) ‘time’ as the marker of a discrete moment where the grounds for retention no longer hold and ‘forgetting’ of the data should follow and (2) ‘time’ as a factor in the balance of interests, as adding or removing weight to the request to ‘forget’ personal information or its opposing interest. The chapter elaborates on these two roles from different perspectives and highlights the importance and underdeveloped understanding of the second role.


The right to be forgotten Data protection Privacy Internet Time 



This paper originates from the “Timing the Right to Be Forgotten” panel-discussion at the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference (CPDP) in Brussels 201485 organized by the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT). We therefore would like to express our gratitude to TILT and CPDP for supporting and making this discussion possible. Paulan Korenhof her research is conducted within the Privacy and Identity Lab (PI.lab) and funded by (


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulan Korenhof
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jef Ausloos
    • 2
  • Ivan Szekely
    • 3
  • Meg Ambrose
    • 4
  • Giovanni Sartor
    • 5
    • 6
  • Ronald Leenes
    • 7
  1. 1.Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)Tilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Faculty of Law (ICRI/CIR-iMinds)University of Leuven (KU Leuven)LeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Open Society ArchivesCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary
  4. 4.Communication, Culture & Technology DepartmentGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Law DepartmentEuropean University InstituteFlorenceItaly
  6. 6.Cirsfid, Law DepartmentUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  7. 7.Regulation by Technology, Tilburg Institute for LawTechnology, and Society (TILT)TilburgThe Netherlands

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