back to article Someone told Google to nuke links to mean reviews of disgraced telco True Telecom

Links to pages slating a telco slapped with multiple fines from UK regulators have been wiped from Google's search results after a claimant asked the search giant to chuck them down a sinkhole. Dartford-based phone and broadband provider True Telecom was this month fined £300,000 by Ofcom. And earlier this year the ICO, the …

  1. Aqua Marina

    If only Max Mosley knew that taking down search results could be so simple.

    At some point I do think that someone will take issue with google's database of take down requests and will take legal action against that.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True Telecom - DO NOT USE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just sayin...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, that's El Reg de-indexed, now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How does this story stack up against Andrew O's analysis at the time?

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/14/google_eu_ruling/

        1. Aqua Marina

          How did you find that? Did you google it? Maybe other Andrew O articles will start to conveniently disappear from google now.

        2. Sirius Lee

          Andrew O reports a ruling as it affects individual privacy. Companies are not individuals and so do not enjoy the benefits of human right legislation. Therefore, as I understand it, the ECJ ruling has no effect in this case. Other commenters have speculated on the reasons for Google's decision to remove the links.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            What are you saying? Corporations aren't people? That's crazy talk. All our poor little MagaCorps need all of the protections that are provided people and the protections that are provided the extremely wealthy (no those aren't people, they are a very special class of highly protected Fascists). I say let the Oligarchy reign! Trumpistan for ALL!

            I just realized that I needed to use a lot more caps for full effect ;)

  3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Streisand effect

    True Telecom ? Never heard of them. Until now.

    And since I can't read the articles and judge for myself if they're unwarranted rants, I'll assume that they embarrassed the company and were therefore likely true.

    1. Oz

      Re: Streisand effect

      I remember seeing them advertising what seemed very cheap monthly line rental. The catch? You had to sign a 10 year contract! There were also loads of other T&Cs...

      1. Oz

        Re: Streisand effect

        Just gone into administration too?

        https://commsbusiness.co.uk/news/true-telecom-enters-administration-after-85k-fine/

        1. Aqua Marina

          Re: Streisand effect

          Funny thing is, if they've gone into administration, then they must have been a Ltd company. As a Ltd company they do not have any kind of right to privacy. So google seem to have deleted links for no reason in this case, contradicting previous cases where they have strenuously denied being able to censor their indexing of articles available on the internet.

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Re: Streisand effect

            "As a Ltd company they do not have any kind of right to privacy"

            No, but they can still be defamed and are likely to suffer larger damages than a natural person as a result. All of which raises the risk for Google whilst the reward remains negligible.

  4. frank ly Silver badge

    Googled it

    I just Googled "True telecom fines" and it has lots of links to articles about them being fined £85k or £300K. So, what's happening? Maybe my internet is slow.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Googled it

      Where are you searching from? Google can't be required to remove links worldwide to comply with an individual country's or region's laws.

      Not that it particularly matters outside the country where True Telecom does business, or did business.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        Re: Googled it

        I'm in the UK with Virgin Media and not using a VPN but my router is set to use 8.8.8.8 (Google's DNS) by default.

        Edit: I just tried it with 194.168.4.100 (VM's default DNS) and I get the same result.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Googled it

          Same here, using Sky, and 9.9.9.9 for DNS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Googled it

      From the article I get the impression that only 3 pages were taken down - leaving plenty of scope for other reports or indeed for re-posting within a domain on a new page...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Googled it

        "From the article I get the impression that only 3 pages were taken down"

        There are other lumendatabase results depending how you word your search on True Telecom.

        The interesting part is the excessively verbose wording of the takedown demands. They were clearly NOT written by someone with training in how to do it and provide an insight into the mindset of the author.

    3. Charlie_Spotted

      Re: Googled it

      Always best to go straight to the horse's mouth...

      https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/bulletins/competition-bulletins/open-cases/cw_01189

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Best go to the horse's mouth"

        Are you suggesting they should have got ofcom to cover up the fine?

  5. jimbo36

    True Telecom went into Administration on the 3rd of November, so I guess it doesn't really matter anymore.

    Although, if you do a quick Google for True Telecom, I still get an article from ISPReview ("Ofcom UK Accuses Broadband ISP True Telecom of Slamming.." and "True Telecom in Dartford fined £85,000 for making nuisance calls over.." published on Kent Online so I'm not entirely sure the takedown requests were either actioned, or made any difference given the other numerous bad reviews available.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "True Telecom went into Administration on the 3rd of November, so I guess it doesn't really matter anymore."

      It does, given the tendency of these companies to Phoenix - note that the True Telecom website is still up and still touting for business.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        As a recipient of one of their cold calls, I put up a Trustpilot review detailing their ICO/Ofcom fines and court convictions along with a pointer to the Lumen database takedown ID.

        True Telecom may be in administration but they are STILL sending in takedown demands.

    2. Ian Emery Silver badge

      The ISPR story is still there, but the comments section about the story has been wiped clean.

      I was one of the people who commented, so I know what was there and what wasnt, and the claims made by the owner of "fake news" are bollocks; as (I suspect) are all the glowing reviews on their website.

      The company has gone bust and changed names and office address multiple times in the last 10 years, been struck off and threatened with being struck off twice before - all this is available via companies house.

  6. TheOtherPhil

    True Telecom, meet Streisand Effect.

  7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Not so sure-fire

    They may have got away with it this time, but it isn't a completely sure-fire method of erasing bad publicity. Had they been the subject of a court case rather than an Ofcom complaint, their statement to Google that the reports of the findings in that case were "not true" might be regarded as contemptuous.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not so sure-fire

      "Had they been the subject of a court case rather than an Ofcom complaint"

      In March 2017, True Telecom was found guilty in Magistrates' court of the criminal offence of handling personal information whilst being an unregistered data controller.

      That, plus Ofcom fines and the fact that the ICO warned them to stop illegal activities in 2015, but they kept doing it (hence the 80k fine), plus the passing off(*) as Openreach all scream "dodgy as fuck"

      (*) That's an actionable tort under civil law, should BT like to take action(**) - liability passes to the directors for actions of employees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passing_off

      (**) Not that I imagine they will, but they really should.

  8. TheProf
    Meh

    After deletion

    I'm wondering how this affects Google's search engine.

    I was under the impression that Big G's search results were based on the number of sites that referenced something. In this case for example, say 100 other sites pointed to DodgyTelecom. Google then ranks the result based on 100 connections.

    So, if today Google delete that information (100 connections), what happens tomorrow? Does Google trawl the web again (or whatever it is they do) and then delete the references to DodgyTelecom or are they allowed to start serving up those results?

    What about other search engines? Are they allowed to serve pages based on DodgyTelecom searches?

    And of course the actual pages where the damning evidence is published still exist don't they? And that Way Back machine probably has it all archived away.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: After deletion

      Nope that's the beauty of the Streisand effect - the "victim" now has to get an injunction/order against each of the sites mentioning the first site, and if the other sites are outside the country .....

  9. tentimes

    Trustpilot still up

    If you good you get (not too far) down, the Trustpilot link and the reviews are dreadful.

  10. Kernel Silver badge

    Huh?

    "claimed to be pensioners yet the emails were sent at 4am in the morning."

    Am I missing something here - personally I would consider one of the advantages of being a pensioner would be that if I wanted to sit up until 4 am (probably 4 am in the morning, 4 am in the afternoon is just too much trouble) pissing around on my computer I could do so without having to worry about trudging off to work three hours later.

    Why would being (presumably) old mean that you can't stay up all night if wanted to?

  11. TechnicalBen Silver badge

    This would be a nice article by the Reg...

    Except all trace of it seems to have been removed on request of [redacted] and I have been discourages by lawyers and baseball bats as to questioning why.

    (Not sure if troll, joke, conspiracy or "nuke from orbit" icon required :( )

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The ultimate Streisand effect for good

    UK libel law, where the victim has to prove their allegations in court, means that there are no stories about any UK sexual harassment.

    So the solution would be to post an anonymous scurilous comment that Jimmy Savile isn't an optimal babysitter or you shouldn't have Bob Maxwell run your pension fund. Then loudly and publicly demand the story is taken down.

  13. Wensleydale Cheese

    From the article...

    And so, ploughing on, we reach the denouement, as the claimant revealed a crucial piece of evidence to prove these commentators are fake news: "The laughable fact is that in several occasions they have used the same name and claimed to be pensioners yet the emails were sent at 4am in the morning." Iron-clad.

    Hmm, I’ve been up since 4am (it's now 4:32 my time, 3:42 UK time). and I'm nearly at pension age.

    Does something weird like needing a lie in until 8 am happen once you are officially retired?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: From the article...

      Does something weird like needing a lie in until 8 am happen once you are officially retired?

      It's the reason I want to retire.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True Telecom - What a Rip Off...

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4949204

  15. EastFinchleyite

    Google gone

    Does this mean that if I complain to Google about Google then they will take themselves off the internet.

    Clouds/Silver Linings etc.

  16. Jamie Kitson
  17. MrKrotos

    Dodgy as F$&K

    If you have a look on company records you will see how dodgy these people are!

    Mark Baines and Stuart Griffiths are prime examples of people with no morels, I do hope they get whats coming to them.

  18. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Heirs to the throne

    A little digging shows that True Telecom rose from the ashes of "Select Calls Ltd" and that there is an interesting relationship in both the directors and the sales/bully techniques of "Chess Telecom" and "Daisy Telecom", who both "inherited" customers from Select Calls.

    It's a nice incestuous pit of vipers. The amazing thing is that there appear to be no Ofcom or ICO actions against Select, Chess or Daisy (yet!), despite similar numbers of complaints.

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