Sunday, June 17

The Right to Rewrite Google?

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A man wants to rewrite Google, to remove results that mention his criminal conviction. 

In the first case of its kind in England, a businessman, who was convicted of conspiracy to account falsely, wants the right to be forgotten, so that online articles which mention his criminal conviction are removed from Google.

Since 2014, when the European Union’s court of justice ruled that irrelevant and outdated data should be removed on request, Google has received at least 2.4 million requests to remove search results. Google can decline to remove such results if the public interest in accessing the information outweighs a right to privacy.

Antony White QC, representing Google, said that the court of justice ruling was ‘not a right to rewrite history or tailor your past’ but the Claimant states that the articles have caused ‘distress and upset.’

White added that the Claimant’s behaviour that gave rise to the conviction was ‘serious and sustained.’ ‘It involved deceptive and misleading criminal practices,’ which led to regulatory interventions and condemnation in parliament. White told the court that the claimant had portrayed himself as a ‘respected businesses man’ to create a ‘false picture.’

The claimant however, argues that ‘before anyone meets a new person these days they Google them.’ ‘Many people engage in misdeeds when they are young or in the past’ and if these are ‘constantly brought to the attention of others then they will permanently have a negative effect.’ The conviction is now spent and the law is designed to allow for the rehabilitation of offenders so that they can go on to lead normal lives.

The high court case is expected to last five days and will no doubt be monitored closely by others who hope to remove their information from the internet.

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About Author

Hannah is a third-year law student at the University of York and has a particular interest in public law and international criminal law. She joined Legal Loop in August 2017.

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