Court Result Could Become A Charter For Criminals

Facebook is not the only internet giant facing the fall-out from the scandal of data mismanagement – Google has been in court in London as well.

Two businessmen challenged the way the company handled information about them when their names cropped up on search results.

The result that could be a charter for people trying to hide their pasts.

Google refused to remove most of their data from searches under European Union ‘right to be forgotten’ laws, so the pair took the company to the High Court.

One of the pair lost but won the right to appeal, while the other won.

Neither was named but were referred to as NT1 and NT2 in the court papers.

Google refused to edit searches

NT1 was convicted of false accounting offences in the 1990s and served four years in jail.

NT2 spent six months in prison a decade ago following a conviction for offences related to intercepting communications.

Google was asked to remove six links by NT1, delisting one but keeping the rest, while NT2 wanted 11 links removed and failed to persuade Google to delist any.

Justice Mark Warby decidedin favour of NT2, agreeing a national newspaper article had published misleading information about his criminality.

“The crime and punishment information has become out of date, irrelevant and of no sufficient legitimate interest to Google users to justify continued availability, so an appropriate delisting order should be made,” said the judge.

Right to be forgotten rules

He also accepted NT2 acknowledged his guilt and showed remorse. NT2 will not receive any compensation or damages.

However, the judge said NT1 has not accepted guilt, misled the public, misled the High Court, and shows no remorse. He added NT1 remains in business and information about his past criminal conviction and jail sentence on Google Search minimises the risk he will continue to mislead people.

“It is quite likely that there will be more claims of this kind, and the fact that NT2 has succeeded is likely to reinforce that,” said the judge.

Google has received 2.4 million requests to remove links under ‘right to be forgotten’rules, removing 800,000.

A search engine can reject requests if the information called by the link is deemed to be in the public interest.