Right to be forgotten

At a glance

In brief

When does the right to erasure apply?

The right to erasure does not provide an absolute ‘right to be forgotten’. Individuals have a right to have personal data erased and to prevent processing in specific circumstances:

Under the GDPR, this right is not limited to processing that causes unwarranted and substantial damage or distress. However, if the processing does cause damage or distress, this is likely to make the case for erasure stronger.

There are some specific circumstances where the right to erasure does not apply and you can refuse to deal with a request.

When can I refuse to comply with a request for erasure?

You can refuse to comply with a request for erasure where the personal data is processed for the following reasons:

How does the right to erasure apply to children’s personal data?

There are extra requirements when the request for erasure relates to children’s personal data, reflecting the GDPR emphasis on the enhanced protection of such information, especially in online environments.

If you process the personal data of children, you should pay special attention to existing situations where a child has given consent to processing and they later request erasure of the data (regardless of age at the time of the request), especially on social networking sites and internet forums. This is because a child may not have been fully aware of the risks involved in the processing at the time of consent (Recital 65).

Do I have to tell other organisations about the erasure of personal data?

If you have disclosed the personal data in question to others, you must contact each recipient and inform them of the erasure of the personal data - unless this proves impossible or involves disproportionate effort. If asked to, you must also inform the individuals about these recipients.

The GDPR reinforces the right to erasure by clarifying that organisations in the online environment who make personal data public should inform other organisations who process the personal data to erase links to, copies or replication of the personal data in question.

While this might be challenging, if you process personal information online, for example on social networks, forums or websites, you must endeavour to comply with these requirements.

As in the example below, there may be instances where organisations that process the personal data may not be required to comply with this provision because an exemption applies.


A search engine notifies a media publisher that it is delisting search results linking to a news report as a result of a request for erasure from an individual. If the publication of the article is protected by the freedom of expression exemption, then the publisher is not required to erase the article.

Right to access your personal information
The Act gives you the right to access information held about you. You can obtain access to your personal information held by us by sending a cheque for £10 (to cover administration costs for collating this information), made payable to "Linen Lace and Patchwork Ltd", to: Data Protection Officer, 14 Hichlcliff Road, Benfleet, Essex, SS7 1NQ 
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