Right to be forgotten

Has your name appeared in the media in association with the false allegations against you – e.g. when you were arrested, when you were charged or in reporting of the proceedings against you that resulted in your ‘not guilty’ verdict? Is your name to be found online?  If so, and your case has reached some sort of conclusion, you may invoke the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten‘.  This is a recent law (2014) that applies to search companies.

Under the law, you many issue a request to the search engine.  This may enable you to prevent web pages containing your name from turning up in web searches.

Two of the largest companies, Google and Bing have issued forms where you can request such pages to be removed from being associated with searches of your name.

Google’s form is here.

Bing’s form is here.

What this law does not allow you to do however, is to remove the offending article from the offending web site.  That is, of course, unless the article is untrue,  defamatory or could constitute harassment. But if it’s not going to turn up in a search engine when your next employer types in “Joe Blogs”, then that’s probably sufficient.

The law is more complex if you’ve been found guilty as a result of a miscarriage of justice.  Your rights to be forgotten will carry less weight.  The information must be deemed “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate” and furthermore, the search engine company may consider that it’s still in the public interest that your name is associated with the conviction.