Right to be Forgotten Case: Dejan Lazić vs. The Washington Post

The Right to Be Forgotten has meant a before and after for defamatory, obsolete, and irrelevant content.

Righttobeforgottengdpr.com analyzes a well-known case about applying this legislation and online defamation.

We assume that criticism and negative reviews affect the personal and work environment.

Our team has taken as an example the quarrel between the pianist Dejan Lazić and The Washington Post.

It is a classic ‘duel’: a negative online review in front of a super-powerful media outlet.

We will also see the difference regarding the protection of the person between Europe and the United States.

The most curious fact of the story is that neither one party expected the full impact, which occurred at Google.

The following text explains the whole process, starring the artist and the American newspaper.

The temporal range of the dispute Dejan Lazić vs. The Washington Post

The ‘battle’ between both parties occurs both before and after the approval of the Right to Be Forgotten.

The review published by The Washington Post dates from 2010.

It means four years before the EU Court of Justice judgement, promulgated before the Right to be Forgotten.

And, precisely, in 2014, Dejan Lazić asked the media to eliminate this criticism.

Google search results

Once The Washington Post published the review, every user who searched Google for ‘Dejan Lazić’ could see the article on the first page.

Google search results The Vanished

And, in fact, four years after the recital, the search engine continued to show the result of the criticism.

Due to the elapsed time, the pianist considered the content obsolete and even defamatory.

A performance at the piano, a critique

The famous music critic, Anne Midgette, wrote about the pianist Dejan Lazić’s recital at the Kennedy Center in 2010.

A performance at the piano, a critique The Vanished

The review, entitled Sparks but not flame, contained opinions such as the following:

“The notes, again, were exquisitely placed, and there were things to like, but the human side fell short. […]

The pianist was received with reasonably warm applause, but it didn’t last long enough to draw an encore”.

Dejan Lazić’s response

The pianist contacted the media and the journalist via email to remove the publication.

Years later, the email came to light:

“It’s hard to believe that almost four years after this article was published in his newspaper, its content still appears in the top ten topics on the search engine when you search for my name.”

Later, Dejan Lazić wrote a post on his website:

“I of course do believe in freedom of speech and everyone’s entitlement to have an opinion. […] Otherwise I could have in this case simply and quietly contacted Google Europe and ask for this single, outdated, and in my opinion defamatory article to be retracted.”

In it, he names the keys to the Right to Be forgotten and its strength in the European Union, where he resides.

Google and pressure from the European Union

In his website publication, Dejan Lazić compares the United States and Europe in data protection policy.

The pianist was aware that he could not apply the Right to Be Forgotten because it only takes place in European Union member countries.

However, Dejan Lazić defended, in his writing, the Right to be Forgotten:

“And now there is the EU Grand Court’s recent “Right to be Forgotten” ruling which obviously cannot be applied in the US. […]

This is not about censorship (and I am most certainly not advocating it), it is also not about closing down an access to information;

Actually Europe is cradle of democracy and many other values it is linked with and which we all sometimes seem to take for granted, such as freedom of speech.”

A summary, by the author

In 2014, Anne Midgette herself wrote a summary of everything in her diary: l’affair Lazić.

A summary, by the author The Vanished

In it, she indicated that her review was “mixed” and although she was disappointed, she “did my best to find the good in it.

Is it legal for outdated content to prevail on the first pages of Google?

Analyzing the case Dejan Lazić vs. The Washington Post draws a clear conclusion: content written in 2010 continued four years later on the front page.

The pianist saw his name related with strong criticism in a single click.

What Dejan Lazić demanded was the removal of obsolete content.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes this scenario.

The legislation intends for the Right to confidentiality to prevail over the Right to inform.

What kind of content does not eliminate the Right to be Forgotten?

EU Regulation 2016/679 establishes exceptions in the exercise of the Right to Forget:

  • Guarantee freedom of expression;
  • Comply with legal obligations;
  • Public interest reasons;
  • Scientific, statistical, or historical objective;
  • Formulate claims;
  • Countries outside the European Union.

In fact, the judgment of the EU Court of Justice establishes the following:

“A fair balance should be sought in particular between that interest and the data subject’s fundamental rights.”

From Righttobeforgottengdpr.com , we eliminate content from the Internet, which affects the reputation and privacy of natural and legal persons.

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