European Court of Human Rights confirms right to be forgotten

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued its judgement in the case of Hurbain v. Belgium (application no. 57292/16)  ordering the ‘Le Soir’ newspaper to anonymise the identity of a rehabilitated offender to respect his right to be forgotten.

The case dealt with civil judgment against Mr Hurbain (publisher of the daily ‘Le Soir’) ordering him to anonymise an article in its electronic archive which mentioned the full name of a driver who had been responsible for a deadly road accident in 1994. The order was based on the individual’s right to be forgotten. Mr Hurbain complained to the ECHR that the order to anonymise the archived version of an article on his newspaper’s website was infringing on his right to freedom of expression.

The ECHR weighed the right to freedom of expression of Mr. Hurbain and the right to be forgotten of the driver guaranteed by the European and Belgian law and ruled that the measure imposed on Mr Hurbain could be regarded as ‘proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued and as striking a fair balance between the competing rights at stake.’ Therefore, ECHR ordered ‘Le Soir’ to anonymise the identity of the driver in its digital archives.