May 19, 2020

What is the Right to be Forgotten?

Annifer Jackson
3 min
What is the Right to be Forgotten?

Since an EU court ruling in May more than 145,000 appeals across Europe have been made to Google relating to individuals seeking the right to be forgotten.

This averages more than 1,000 requests a day.

According to Google the firm has removed more than 29,000 unwanted links to web pages for people in France, with more than 25,000 links removed for Germans. Facebook is the website impacted the most.

The right to be forgotten applies to half a billion people across 32 European countries, and strikes at the heart of a key debate surrounding internet privacy. So what exactly is the right to be forgotten, and how did it come about?

A Spanish Court in 2010

The furore came about because of a complaint launched by a Spanish citizen in 2010 against a newspaper and Google.

The issue revolved around an auction notice of his repossessed home, with the complainant believing that Google’s search results infringed his privacy because the case had been settled for a number of years, meaning reference of this in association to him was irrelevant in the present day.

He requested the newspaper take down stories related to him and that Google be required to remove personal data which meant he would not appear in search results.   

The Spanish courts referred the case to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ), asking whether:

  1. The EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive applied to search engines
  2. EU law applied to Google Spain given its servers were based in the US
  3. An individual has the right to request his/her personal data be removed, i.e. whether a person has the right to be forgotten by a search engine

On May 13 2014 the EU court concluded that the 1995 rules do apply to search engines, that Google was subject to EU law, and that an individual has the right to ask to be forgotten.

In its ruling the court said: “This applies where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive for the purposes of the data processing.”

In the case of the Spanish man the court found that “interference with a person’s right to data protection could not be justified merely by the economic interest of the search engine.”

However, the ECJ did state that the right to be forgotten was not absolute and that a case-by-case assessment is needed. It also said that the public influence of the person in question could also be relevant in any ruling, helping strike a balance between privacy and freedom of expression revolved around public interest.

Crucially, the burden of proof lies with the company (i.e. Google and other search engines in these highly-publicised cases) and not the individual, meaning that the former must prove the information in question is still needed and relevant.

Often touted as a something fundamentally new, the ruling is actually based largely around rights granted in 1995, with the EU saying its proposed data regulation is a modernisation of Europe’s rules that involves a number of rights for citizens. The right to be forgotten is part of this wider package. 

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”


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