back to article Google to 'forget me' man: Have you forgotten what you said earlier?

The man demanding Google deletes search links to interviews he gave about a criminal offence he committed has been accused of giving “demonstrably false” answers in court by Google’s barrister. That accusation came during yesterday’s final hearing in the Right To Be Forgotten trial at the High Court in London. Antony White QC …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

    Add discriminating based on spent convictions to the discrimination legislation and be done with it.

    This way, there will be no need to edit history while at the same time those who discriminate against someone based on their spent convictions will suffer the consequences.

    Anything else aside, doing it this way will cause the Daily Beobachter moralist brigade a fit of apoplexy. So it is worth it just for that alone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

      How do you prove it?

      Do you think an employer is going to write or email confirming they aren't being employed because of a spent conviction found on google?

      1. local_man

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        That is what the DBS check is for - the official source (as declared in the new GDPR) for any employer who needs a prospective employee.

        By removing the index links will prevent the employer discriminating on them because of their conviction.

        The same applies to any protected characteristic - they can (and will) always be discriminated once they have attended the interview - you will never stop that but by removing links to articles about people with spent convictions (upon request) - we will at least be moving more towards an equal society.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          Why don't we just not convict anyome, and have a perfectly equal society? It would save a lot of money...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

      "Add discriminating based on spent convictions to the discrimination legislation and be done with it."

      Speaking from the USA, this all seems rather strange. Here criminal convictions are a matter of public record. You can search the court sites for individuals and their records.

      So if I am understanding this correctly: If I was looking for an accountant, I wouldn't or shouldn't be able to see that one of the interviewees had 5 convictions for embezzlement, since the terms had been served?

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        "So if I am understanding this correctly: If I was looking for an accountant, I wouldn't or shouldn't be able to see that one of the interviewees had 5 convictions for embezzlement, since the terms had been served?"

        It depends upon the length of the sentence. If it was for more than four years (as seems likely for 5 counts of embezzlement) then the conviction never becomes spent. Even if it is spent, it still may have to be revealed for some jobs. But for mundane stuff, if you refuse to hire someone on the basis of spent convictions, then you are committing a crime. [SOURCE]

        In summary, the law attempts to balance the right to a second chance against the risk of recidivism.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          @Brewster: Thanks for the clarification. Here I would be bothered by the fact that violent crimes don't necessarily result in a significant amount of time served - or any at all. But it appears that is addressed in the source document you provided.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          "In summary, the law attempts to balance the right to a second chance against the risk of recidivism."

          And a good thing too. The alternative is to punish someone for a crime they haven't committed.

        3. local_man

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          If you recruit someone in the Financial sector you apply for an enhanced DBS on that individual - even spent convictions show up on an Enhanced DBS therefore, you would be able to see the convictions and then able to make a decision based on that.

          That is the whole point of the DBS system.

          Google/Bing and all of the other search engines are not and should not be an alternative for the DBS.

          **NB DBS was formerly known as the CRB for those oldies out there.

      2. Vincent Ballard
        Coat

        Expunction

        @BlockChainToo, actually some states have a concept similar to spent convictions called expunction. Under certain conditions (which, of course, vary from state to state) you can apply to a judge to have your conviction removed from the public record.

      3. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        @BlockChainToo - That's pretty much it. The law sentenced him, he served his punishment and then he got his licen[cs]e back, as he was officially rehabilitated and the authorities deem him trustworthy now. The record may still be on the court site, but might not the first thing that appears if you Google his name. Though if you add "embezzlement" to your search, that's

        On the one hand, I don't get why this is Googles problem - he can hire an SEO firm to get negative hits pushed off the first page. Why should Google have to bear the cost of de-indexing him?

        On the other hand, I still don't get why Google search isn't just classed as a publisher. They seem to get the benefits of that classification, but not the responsibilities.

      4. veti Silver badge

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        @BlockChainToo: You'll be relieved to hear that accountants are specifically exempted from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act: their convictions are never considered "spent".

        There's an odd list of professions this applies to: among others, it also includes doctors, nurses and pharmacists, vets, unit trust managers, taxi drivers and...

        wait for it...

        butlers.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          A butler does of course have to be of the utmost discretion, often being around when his employer meets/greets/wines/dines important guests and sensitive information might be discussed. Sure it's a holdover from "older times" but I see the rationale.

          1. local_man

            Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

            This will be more about the fact that a butler comes into contact with potentially vulnerable adults and also children.

            Any job that could come into contact with children needs an enhanced DBS check - that shows up all convictions regardless of whether they are spent or not.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          " and...

          wait for it...

          butlers."

          Well obviously. A butler is a gentleman's gentleman.

          Now a valet *without* previous convictions would seem to be a terrible mistake.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

            No, a valet is a gentleman's gentleman - and I don't see any exemption for them.

            A butler is a household manager, with considerable authority for hiring and firing others. Plus, of course, they will almost by definition be employed only by stupidly rich people. I suspect that's the real issue.

      5. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        @BlockChainToo,

        Speaking from the USA, this all seems rather strange. Here criminal convictions are a matter of public record. You can search the court sites for individuals and their records.

        Convictions are also a matter of public record here too, but the idea is that only those who absolutely need to know about it should have access.

        The idea behind the legislation concerning rehabilitation of offenders, the irrelevance of most spent convictions, and the right to get back to normal life, is all about changing the mind-set of someone who got sent to jail. Without it there's nothing to be gained for the ex criminal as society (informed by Google) will quite possibly piss on them forevermore, and then you'll have a greater rate of recidivism in your law and order system. That costs money.

        If Google want to do what they are currently doing, the law will likely get changed to make Google pay the monetary cost to society of that. Government is already mulling passing the monetary cost to the NHS in increasing rates of mental illness amongst youngsters bullied on line on to Facebook, etc.

        1. joeldillon

          Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

          'Convictions are also a matter of public record here too, but the idea is that only those who absolutely need to know about it should have access.' - I think the OP's point is that that is not PUBLIC record. Public record means anyone can look at the information, any time, without having to give a reason.

      6. Charlie Boy

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        "So if I am understanding this correctly: If I was looking for an accountant, I wouldn't or shouldn't be able to see that one of the interviewees had 5 convictions for embezzlement, since the terms had been served?"

        Certain convictions even when spent are always searchable with good reason at your local police station., and checking before employing an accountant who has embezelled is one such conviction that they will show you. This is in addition to the provisions of what is shown when an enhanced criminal records check is required.

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

      "Add discriminating based on spent convictions to the discrimination legislation and be done with it."

      Great, that'll help. That's why, since that legislation, all sexism and racism has ended.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        Actually, it has. There was never much to begin with. But there are now a huge number of people CLAIMING discrimination on spurious grounds - strongly supported by activists.

        You should check your privilege....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

      No. Spent convictions are precisely relevant bases on which to discriminate. I am not willing to employ a financial controller with a history of fraud and I should be entitled so not to do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I am not willing to employ a financial controller with a history of fraud"

        You can do background checking, just Google or any other generic search engine should not be the tool to perform it, because it can be woefully inaccurate - and it has no mandate to be.

        Frankly, I wouldn't like to work for such a company, because would be evidently run by morons.

      2. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        To my downvoters: I guess you don't believe punishment/rehabilitation works or that people can change. Or maybe it was because of my naive comments about Google, but I'll never know as you didn't respond.

        @AC re: "I am not willing to employ a financial controller with a history of fraud and I should be entitled so not to do."

        You can use any excuse not to employ them apart from a spent conviction. That may not be wise - Someone who committed a crime and paid a severe penalty is generally less likely to risk that penalty again, unless they're forced into it by hardship. They may even accept a lower salary and work harder. But people who never admit to mistakes are usually a nightmare to work with.

    5. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

      Add discriminating based on spent convictions to the discrimination legislation and be done with it.

      Assuming there is widespread discrimination against criminals, attempting to ban it is unlikely to work. The only way to actually address it is to find out why people consider criminals below typical employees.

      Do they feel the criminal hasn't been punished appropriately? - should punishments be more significant?

      Do they feel the criminal is unlikely to be reformed? - does a conviction without prison actually reform anyone or is it just a line in a file and they continue as before?

      Do they feel that there is no 'right' to a second chance and diminished employment prospects for life are part and parcel of any conviction? - do people consider that there is no right to a second chance and that they have the right not to offer one?

      There are so many ways for employers to discover 'spent' convictions that circumvent the ROA, that tinkering with googles search results is unlikely to make a meaningful difference.

      Identifying the wider publics apparent concern around criminals and making sure their concerns get addressed at source is more likely to produce the desired outcome than any attempts to couple seperate legislation. Peoples concerns must be based on something, if enough employers are avoiding convicts that it is an actual problem, so that should be the primary focus rather than hiding the conviction.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Add spent convictions to the discrimination legislation

        ...Do they feel the criminal is unlikely to be reformed? - does a conviction without prison actually reform anyone or is it just a line in a file and they continue as before?...

        Well... if you were considering people for a handyman job and you found that one candidate had murdered his employer's family one day when they asked him to change a light bulb -- but 'he's quite all right now'.....would you like to 'give him a second chance'...?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe Google didn't remove links about him because they'd forgotten about him? ;-)

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Er...*

      How long before they forget that they forgot him?

      *to quote the words of the Klatchian Foreign Legion marching and drinking song

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?

    It's a very bad road we tread when we attempt to delete or modify history, those who control the past control the future.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      RE : Let's burn all the newspaper archives...

      But I'm not sure that that is the point that is being argued here. Nobody (as far as I can tell) either prosecuting or defending this case is suggesting that the underlying archive or editorial material be deleted. Simply that Google, as an uber-powerful, but nonetheless parasitic aggregator of news that "proper" journalists produce - do not link to them.

      If I wanted to investigate NT2's past - I could still do it by searching those underlying archives or the editorial mass for the information. I think the point is that most people won't, hence, he and his past crimes have a chance of being "forgotten" to the wider populace. Google on the other hand wants to have a permanent link and leech off of everything from every media publication; so with that reach, the chances are that anyone searching for "John Smith" will bring back something related to him and his past crimes, thereby preventing his spent convictions from ever being forgotten.

      I think that's how I read the case, and I hope I have explained it so it makes sense?

      Cheers.

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: RE : Let's burn all the newspaper archives...

        The thing is, though, that Google is an extremely useful tool for finding all sorts of information that is in the mass of past news items, books, and so on and so forth. Making information hard to find, like it was in the old days, has an impact on people who would find that information useful.

        And given the damage one dishonest or untrustworthy person in the wrong place can do - if he were to re-offend because someone hired him in ignorance due to this law... well, if the government wants to pass such a law, it should accept 100% strict liability when this happens. He steals $10 million - the government writes you a cheque, and then tries to recover the money from him. Otherwise, it shouldn't be passing such daft laws, putting risk on the shoulders of the public.

        If it's a problem that criminals won't rehabilitate if it's hard for them to find jobs beyond ditch-digging if everyone knows their past... then change the laws so that you just shoot them instead of having to let them out of jail so you need to worry about that. Problem solved.

      2. Old Used Programmer

        Re: RE : Let's burn all the newspaper archives...

        So...while you don't want to burn the archive, you DO want to burn the index to that archive?

      3. Chris Fox

        Re: RE : Let's burn all the newspaper archives...

        "Nobody (as far as I can tell) either prosecuting or defending this case is suggesting that the underlying archive or editorial material be deleted."

        Not in this case. But there is another case where this is exactly what is being asked for, under the Data Protection Act. Max Mosley is seeking to have published articles erased or amended, including it would seem ones that merely report factual matters about the financing of Impress, as well as those relating to a certain party he attended. According to Private Eye he is also seeking damages for distress about publication of the fact that he funds Impress. And then there are other cases where complainants are claiming that they need to give consent for articles to be published about them in the first place, including, according to the Eye, a certain Prince Charles.

    2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      @at anon

      As far as I can see, that is not even remotely being considered.

      It would appear that the actual document(s) found by a search are not about to be deleted or changed in any way either, just that they will not appear in the results of any search that includes the name of FORGET_ME as an explicit search term.

      But even so it will be tricky to implement since, while a search like "FRAUD FORGET_ME" must clearly exclude any stories about frauds in which Mr FORGET_ME was involved, searches for "CRICKET+FORGET_ME" should not be affected by the right to be forgotten and might (possibly) include stories in which fraud was mentioned in passing because the person making the enquiry presumably wanted everything he could find about the gentleman's cricketing history.

      1. Cederic

        Re: "CRICKET+FORGET_ME"

        I'm not sure the law would prevent Google from doing one of two things:

        1 - delisting 'cricket + forget_me' as well, so that forget_me is permanently unfindable on the 'net. Have fun explaining that one

        2 - delisting 'fraud + forget_me' but adding a note saying, "Search results relating to the crime of fraud have been omitted at the request of forget_me'

        Me, I'd do 2 until a court told me otherwise, then I'd list the court injunction instead.

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?"

      If you really want to find out about someone's past, can you? Yes. Should anyone who knows you be able to find out all about stuff from decades ago at the click of a button? I don't see that one myself.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        If you really want to go from London to Birmingham, you can.

        Should you be able to go on a fast train or a fast car? I don't see that one myself...

    4. LDS Silver badge

      "Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?"

      The lack of understanding about this case is appalling. And The Register made a good work explaining what it is about and what not - but people no longer read, they just take sides.

      In no way the actual legislation asks to delete historical data. The issue is another.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?"

        >In no way the actual legislation asks to delete historical data. The issue is another.

        Erm well it is actually, it's asking to have index records deleted from a database which is just as good as deleting it as the information becomes near impossible to find. This website would be quite useless if you did that:

        https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

        Censorship, it's the first step to totalitarianism.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "Erm well it is actually, it's asking to have index records deleted"

          Indexed records delete from only generic search engines - other indexes won't be touched, and data can still be retrieved with a little more effort.

          It's not censorship, this is not a matter of freedom of expression.

          Should Google be allowed to apply a scarlet letter to people for their whole life?

          Especially since Google algorithms are woefully inadequate at ranking info about people - but even if they were, who give them permission? And if there are laws endowing people with the right to be forgotten, why Google should be allowed to break them?

          Hope you're not from a country where many of your ancestors are people who migrated - or were deported - to start a new life, often after a conviction.

          If there was Google, probably they would have been hanged on arrival.

      2. local_man

        Re: "Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?"

        This is not about deleting the historical (of the record) facts of the story.

        This is about allowing an individual who has a conviction (that was reported about at the time) which is now spent the ability to get on with his/her life without a prospective employer being able to easily search for past stories on them.

        No index tag on the story upon request is all it would take.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: "Let's burn all the newspaper archives while were at it shall we ?"

          ...No index tag on the story upon request is all it would take....

          So...this is about refusing to use modern technology when it embarrasses someone, is it?

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What about people

    Who visited Barnsley and paid for a crop top?

    Surely they have a right to be forgotten ?

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: What about people

      Who visited Barnsley and / or paid for a crop top?

      Surely they have a right to be forgotten ?

      FTFY..

      And, yes.

    2. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: What about people

      Barnsley?

      Fergotton?

      When I were a lad, Our dad ....

    3. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: What about people

      A bit academic i would have thought.

      It's gonna be a certain type of person who visits Barnsley and then goes on to even speak about it, nevermind give public interviews.

      My regular train stops at Barnsley but i've never had the inclination to get off and have a look around.

  5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Orwellian

    "The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.” - George Orwell (From "1984") The European Union

    1. User McUser

      Re: Orwellian

      IMHO, it's less 1984 and more Hitchhiker's Guide.

      They don't want to expunge the information from the record to pretend it never existed in the first place as much as they just want to make it so that the only place you can find it is in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard."

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Orwellian

      Actually, it's Google aiming to be Orwellian, a system able to know everything about everybody, and use it to control lives. Google is actually the Big Brother.

      And, whenever it finds it advantageous for itself, Google does rewrite history - I'm quite sure whatever Page, Brin and Schmidt don't like disappears from Google.

      You can't leave a corporation above the law.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orwellian

        "You can't leave a corporation above the law."

        It was legal to kill Jews in WWII Germany. Does not make it right.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Orwellian

          Surely the Germans are rehabilitated now? In which case, you should not be able to use Google to search for the Holocaust.....

          1. DontFeedTheTrolls
            Mushroom

            Re: Orwellian

            Surely the Germans are rehabilitated now? In which case, you should not be able to use Google to search for the Holocaust.....

            Which is where it all becomes even more complicated. I'd suggest the Holocaust remains in the public interest and therefore trumps the right to be forgotten. But there are deniers out there who might feel differently...

            1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

              Re: Orwellian

              Why is the Holocaust in the public interest, while the Armenian Massacres are not?

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "It was legal to kill Jews in WWII Germany. Does not make it right."

          Of course. It it was also legal to kill Native Americans to steal their lands, or enslave African people.

          In the "Lands of Freedom" - for profit. Or exploit India, China or other countries for profit by the British Empire, one of the lighthouses of democracy.

          But someone understood there are rights above the right of making money. and Google is all about money. The Nazi regime was stopped - should we declare war on Google to stop it acting like a nazi/stasi corporation which thinks it is bound only to its own rules?

          Would you have liked to be able to look for each and every Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine member and haunt them for the rest of their life? Sure, probably many of them would have deserved it - but that would have just led to a worse outcome - sometimes you have to forget about some people, although not about the crimes. Or you may just enter a spiral of revenges and crimes.

          1. peter_dtm

            Re: "It was legal to kill Jews in WWII Germany. Does not make it right."

            @LDS

            All nations practiced slavery UNTIL the British Royal Navy attempted to stop slavery.

            Yes, until the end of the 19th century when Britain made slavery illegal every tribe/group/nation engaged in slavery and slave trading.

            The British through the Royal Navy’s Anti Slavey Patrol went against the entire rest of the world in the first ever attempt to stop the practice.

            Unfortunately slaveyi s still practiced (and approved of) by some nations and some religions.

            The African branch of the Arab Salve trade bought from willing African suppliers. The trade to the east coast (and on to the Persian Gulf and India) was far larger and far more brutal then that trade with the west coast of Africa that supplied the American trade.

            What is it with this ignorance of history, any one would think it was discrimination the way ONLY the American slave trade is ever discussed and held up as an example of moral wrong doing. The ONLY good guys in the history of international slavery were the British Empire who were the first to try and stop it.

            1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Re: "It was legal to kill Jews in WWII Germany. Does not make it right."

              Britain was a prime driver and major beneficiary of the Atlantic slave trade. Calling it, or any actor in this trade, a "good guy" demonstrates a decidedly partial representation of history

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/antislavery_01.shtml.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "it appears to be suggested that it only impacts on a search where the search term is the claimant's name. That’s not quite accurate... It results in the delisting wherever the search terms include the claimant's name.”

    This raises all sorts of issues.

    First of all there are numerous people sharing the same name. The effect would be to delist results for anyone who happened to share the name. What rights would such a person have if they wanted their name to feature in the result?

    It also raises the question of what happens if the search includes words which go to make up the name. For instance, if the name was John Smith and I happen to search for a John Brown who was a smith does it mean that all the results I was looking for are to be delisted?

    And what happens if I search for something completely unrelated but someone whose name coincides with the named person appears in the results? Would the result including that name be delisted even if it referred to the person involved? How would Google even be expected to know whether it was the same person or not?

    1. KingStephen

      That's just not the way this works. The delisting would be a specific url / news article when the search term was NT2's name. .

      1. The article is not generally delisted and is indexed as before for all other relevant search terms

      2. There is no general suppression of results about NT2 or anyone who has the same or a similar name

      So those issues you're worrying about are not created by this.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        > So those issues you're worrying about are not created by this.

        Drat! I was thinking of changing my name to "NT2" in order to obtain anonymity.

      2. cream wobbly

        Worth adding for clarity that the generic name search was the method used to arrive at the list of URLs. But the legal complaint revolves around the URLs on the list; not the search term. The merits or lack thereof for the presence of each URL is what was being debated; and that's where the simplistic methodology came up.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "The delisting would be a specific url / news article when the search term was NT2's name."

        How would the URL/news article be specified? If it's just existing material listed in the court case it wouldn't protect against someone rehashing the material and publishing a new article. The only way to deal with the latter case would be for Google to review any new material featuring the name or variants of it as they're encountered.

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          "The delisting would be a specific url / news article when the search term was NT2's name."

          How would the URL/news article be specified? If it's just existing material listed in the court case it wouldn't protect against someone rehashing the material and publishing a new article. The only way to deal with the latter case would be for Google to review any new material featuring the name or variants of it as they're encountered.

          I imagine it wouldn't suppress new material. If such were to emerge it would be up to NT2 to seek an injunction against the new publisher (which would presumably be easier than against contemporaneous publishers) and/or a delisting request with Google (which would presumably also be easier by reason of precedent)

        2. Chris Fox

          New news

          "How would the URL/news article be specified? If it's just existing material listed in the court case it wouldn't protect against someone rehashing the material and publishing a new article."

          If you read the article carefully you may notice that a question relating to this particular point was raised in the hearing, and highlighted for its significance.

    2. Kajiki

      Exactly what I was thinking.

    3. local_man

      Isnt this just about ensuring that when a person has a conviction that is spent under the RoO Act then they can also apply to the newspapers that carry the story to get them to put a "no-index" tag in the metadata of the story so that it is no longer indexed by ANY search engine.

      still exists on the newspaper website but protects that persons attempts for rehabilitation.

      Would work perfectly and still preserves historical fact.

  7. hellwig Silver badge

    What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

    On one side, the EU keeps punishing Google because they feel Google is abusing it's power as the arbiter of the Internet (in that most people find information on the Internet through Google). "Shame on you, Google, for trying to make money by listing your own ads over 'Joe's Local Internet Services'".

    Then, the EU says "Google, you MUST police the Internet for us, only YOU have that power!".

    So Google HAS to list everything with equal priority EXCEPT the data the government decides Google should not list.

    I wonder if one of the Newspapers whose article is being delisted could then sue Google for hiding their news results, thereby abusing Google's position as the arbiter of the Internet to promote other news agencies' stories over the delisted news agency.

    Quite a Catch 22 there.

    1. Joe Werner

      Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

      We-ell, as I understand it, the EU (well, NT1 and NT2) wants Google to remove the search results that are tied to that specific name (and that specific crime), not remove them from history (or police the internet). As I understand it, searching for e.g. works of the reporter that wrote the article would probably - and should - show them still. What the "right to be forgotten" means is that when searching for your name together with the thing you want to be forgotten nothing should come up. And that is for Google, Yahoo, Bing, duckduckgo, Facebook, ... and I guess that all of these could be targeted. Google is just the big name, so of course the focus is on them. They do not make the information inaccessible, it is still there and you might stumble across it when searching for other things. Like when it was about some bribes when building a new airport, searching the history of development of the airport will likely turn up newspaper articles (even if indirectly) mentioning that case.

      Also it is judges that decide which data should not be listed and not the governments - separation of powers etc. The judicative should be independent from political influence, but of course the laws are passed by the legislative powers, which are the parliament (varies a bit depending on where you live, though), so there are politics coming in from that side.

      1. vir Silver badge

        Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

        Here in the US, at least, there are privately-operated search indexes that specifically search for criminal records and other publicly-available dirt on people. I'm not sure how much of their information comes through Google searches, but their big selling point is that the information they turn up isn't readily apparent through a Google search. Maybe go after them as well?

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

      This is primarily about the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. A piece of UK legislation passed before the EU in its current form was dreamt of.

      The EU part is merely a convenient baseline for what would have been a decision for the English judiciary anyway, and there would probably have been some common law fluff if it didn't exist.

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

        No it's not. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 says NOTHING about the 'right to be forgotten'. That's an entirely EU concept.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

      Then, the EU says "Google, you MUST police the Internet for us, only YOU have that power!".

      This seems to be something of a misrepresentation. The EU mandates a right to be forgotten as a general right. It's not specifically about Google. In this particular case a plaintiff has raised the right against Google. It could equally be against any other search engine.

      1. nijam Silver badge

        Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

        > The EU mandates a right to be forgotten as a general right.

        It absolutely does not. It does not require newspapers to delete or censor their own articles, or even prevent people looking at them, for example.

  8. ratfox Silver badge

    If I were the judge I'd toss a coin

    And that's why I'm not a judge.

    Is it really important what exactly did that man (it's a man, right?) do all those years ago? In a sense, the gravity of his crimes was already measured when he was convicted to less than 4 years of jail (which is I understand a condition for a conviction to be considered as spent). Ideally, it should not be necessary to decide of that again. I'd have thought the judge would just throw out any and all arguments about the gravity of his crimes as irrelevant.

    But maybe that's also why I'm not a judge.

    1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: If I were the judge I'd toss a coin

      ...Is it really important what exactly did that man (it's a man, right?) do all those years ago?...

      Er...yes. It is to historians, and to philosophers who work in the field of Epistemology (knowledge of the truth). But then again, you are probably not a historian or philosopher.

      Actually, the issue seems to be: 'How easy should it be to obtain this data?'. The data would still be available in court hard copy archives - and, presumably, on the Web. Just not on Google. So we are (as I indicated above) in a fantasy world equivalent to saying that you can't use some modern services in some cases. Rather like saying that you can go from London to Birmingham, but you can't use a car or a train....

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "Rather like saying that you can go from London to Birmingham..."

        No, it's rather saying you can't go from London to Birmingham ignoring speed limits and other traffic rules, while hitting other cars, pedestrians, cats and dogs, because you believe nobody else but you has rights.

        There are good reason why some archives are not easily accessible, and can be accessed only when there are good reason to do so, and access is tracked and audited.

        Would you like Google index your tax returns? In some countries some of their data can be accessed, but not published. In mine, when one year the government was about to publish them, many was utterly scared of the idea.

        Beware of the power you may want to give to something like Google, because one day you may find it can turn against you too.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: "Rather like saying that you can go from London to Birmingham..."

          ....No, it's rather saying you can't go from London to Birmingham ignoring speed limits and other traffic rules, while hitting other cars, pedestrians, cats and dogs, because you believe nobody else but you has rights......

          Er, no. it's not. It's nothing to do with that at all. You appear to have lost it, and are ranting incoherently.

          In such a state I would advise you to turn your computer off, walk slowly away from the screen, and have a nice cup of sweet tea. You are of no use in this discussion, and will only embarass yourself more if you continue...

  9. Paul Herber

    Gentleman from The Register

    Madam, there are 5 reporters outside, and a Gentleman from The Times.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Gentleman from The Register

      A Person, surely?

  10. iron Silver badge

    "Your correspondent was the only journalist present for large parts of both cases."

    Good on you for being present to cover the whole case. It is very interesting and will set an important precedent.

    Shame on the rest of your profession, especially the newspapers, for not bothering their arses. Fie for shame!

    1. Craig McGill 1

      Papers send staff out?

      They don't have the staff these days. Even most court cases are covered by agency. Having said that, El Reg or the reporter could probably make a few bob writing up a version of this for the other papers...

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      White, barrister for Google, also said: “We have the gentleman from The Register in court... that journal [is] widely read in the tech sector.” Your correspondent was the only journalist present for large parts of both cases.

      . . . And this neatly sums up why the Register is widely read in the tech sector, and why a lot of people who wish they worked in the tech sector read El Reg. If other news outlets such as the BBC do cover this case, then all they can do is plagurise your work.

      1. local_man

        Erm - also because none of the other mainstream media want to even comment on the story because they know what the potential impact is on them!

    3. The Nazz Silver badge

      ahem, hand drawn artists impressions* or it didn't happen.

      *in pastel hues or grey pencil, either will do.

  11. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Journalists in court

    I was listening to an interview with Ian Hislop (as editor of Private Eye) He said he was amazed at how infrequently journalists now attend court hearings. He thought that journalists are shying away from stories that require more than five minutes work as many people are only interested in reading a few lines about a story before getting bored and moving on.

    Long form journalism is a dying art.

    1. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

      Re: Journalists in court

      Long for ANYTHING, I would say....

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Journalists in court

      Sorry, what? You lost me there. Could you give me a tl:dr? Oh look a cat doing something funny...

    3. ds6 Bronze badge

      Re: Journalists in court

      Look at the most common and popular form of "journalism" today, and you see why:

      Bubba Jones bought a car for a bazillion dollars!

      One Weird Trick to weight loss!

      Celeb Seen Outside Without Any Makeup OMG!!!

      The weather was mostly poor, this reporter reports.

      Something About Gender Politics Or Whatever

      Journalists are only catering to what makes them money—namely, the lowest common denominator. No one is interested in anything anymore that doesn't involve their geopolitical and geosocial circles. Smarter people will desire smarter articles; take that as you will.

    4. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Journalists in court

      "I was listening to an interview with Ian Hislop (as editor of Private Eye) He said he was amazed at how infrequently journalists now attend court hearings. He thought that journalists are shying away from stories that require more than five minutes work as many people are only interested in reading a few lines about a story before getting bored and moving on."

      Also because it's fairly hard. You have to be careful and make sure you don't accidentally break the law. Easier to write an article 'Ten things you wouldn't believe have an effect on the Moon'.

    5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Journalists in court

      Yup. Another 50 years like this and Demolition Man will be considered an insightful foreshadowing of our future society.

    6. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: Journalists in court

      Unfortunately, that includes Ian Hislop....

    7. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Private Eye

      Long form satire is an art on artificial respiration. Anything Ian Hislop thinks is funny requires such a convoluted explanation that the subject of the joke is forgotten before the punchline is reached.

    8. 's water music Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Journalists in court

      Long form journalism is a dying art.

      You won't believe what happened next

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judging by the comments we are saying that spent criminal convictions should be easily found.

    Might as give up any attempts at rehabilitation. Lets see how the crime rates look in future.

    The argument is really that simple. Nobody is trying to erase the past they are just making it so it's not at everyone's fingertips.

    1. nijam Silver badge

      > Might as give up any attempts at rehabilitation.

      In this particular case, it's been stated that the SELF-PUBLICIST gave interviews about his activities after being convicted. Rehabilitation may well have ridden off into the sunset at that point.

      It may also be a sound reason for this case not to set a general precedent.

    2. local_man

      Judging by comments - lets forget rehabilitation

      Completely agree.

      If we, as a society continue to allow everything about a person to be searchable and online then how are those individuals ever going to stand a chance at being rehabilitated.

      Here is a sober and sad thought which is actually true. A person took their own life because although their conviction was spent, they were forever under the Google effect. They had failed to get a number of jobs due to search engine impact (the original crime was a news story some years ago) and when then did get a job, their new employer randomly Googled them and then dismissed them based on what they had found on Google.

      The conviction was spent (sentence less than a year) and it didn't have to be disclosed upon application. They didn't need a DBS check and job was not working in an industry which required one nor related to the conviction.

      Had the person had the ability to request de-listing from search engine indexes - who knows, maybe they would still be alive.

      Surely, these people deserve a chance?

      1. TechDrone

        Re: Judging by comments - lets forget rehabilitation

        Maybe as a society we should grow up a bit and accept that nobody is perfect and we've all done things in the past that we may now regret. I know, this is the real world but we can all live in hope.

        The thing is, as has already been stated there are many things that employers cannot take into account when making hiring/firing decisions. Anyone who trawls the interwebs looking for dirt on [prospective] staff is going to run into issues with that anyway and a good HR department will stop it happening (or at least make it unprovable in court). There are also many job where you *have* to disclose all prior convictions and that disclosure can be in a sealed envelope so the hiring manager never gets to see any details they don't need. Failing to disclose however is an automatic fail. Again, this is all in compliance with rehabilitation.

        We are forever being told to be careful who you do business with and to know your customer. The only option then is going to be using vetting agencies / investigators (which isn't cheap) who will be indexing old newspaper archives, court records and other sources regardless of what Google have so unless the information is going to be erased at source you'll never be able to completely cover up your past. Or are we going have a new round of super injunctions so only the rich can truly start again?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Google,

    I would like to be forgotten from history as I'm now a changed man.

    Mr A Hitler.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ISWYDT

      God, whiner, shut up!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think genocide is ever a spent conviction. Like a few others. The internet can resolve this question.

    3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      There's no denying Adolf is a changed man. Mostly into dirt, worms, etc.

      Unlike Elvis, of course.

  14. doublelayer

    Not understanding the mechanics

    I get the theory of this RTBF concept, but I don't understand exactly how google would implement the deletion. If this man was named "Somebody", would google be required to remove the results only when the search term was "Somebody", or contains "Somebody", or has some level of similarity? For example, could I find this by putting in a deliberate mistake "Some Body Criminal History"? If yes, then maybe that is too weak for the underlying theory. If not, how can you possibly limit this such that it is still possible to find these articles at all?

  15. Charles E

    He should claim that due to the stress of the consequences of his actions, he has eczema and is suicidal. That legal argument seems to work.

  16. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Legal Name Change, with optional sealed record

    "NT2" is quietly renamed "2000" and then released....presumably equipped with NTFS 3.0.

    It worked for MS Windows, so it should work for them..

  17. Richard Jukes

    Could not the same outcome be achieved easier by NT2 changing his name by deed poll?

    End result being that the historical index of google remains intact and also it allows NT2 a fresh start and would prevent employers googling his name.

    That would keep everyone happy.

    Whats that? NT2 doesnt want to change his name? Shouldnt have been a crook then, or should have been smart enough to not get caught and efectively ruin his reputation.

    People have a right to a second chance. There are methoda and procedures in place to facilitate this. They do not have a right to rewrite the past and expunge the memory from those who know them so why allow them to run amok with googles index's?

  18. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    It's good to see...

    ..."Your correspondent was the only journalist present for large parts of both cases."...

    The Register upholding the tenets of Proper Journalism....

  19. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    What about Bing?

    So a judgement is made against Google, what about other search engines? Surely it's unfair to single out one search engine, and the plaintiff, if successful is going to have to take the judgement and use it a precedent against other search engines. What about search engines that have no presence in the UK?

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls
      Boffin

      Re: What about Bing?

      Winning the case against one search engine sets the precedent that others are likely to be measured against. While no search engine will be obligated to remove any links in any future request, they are at risk of losing very quickly if they are taken to court.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: What about Bing?

        ... but what about search engines that don't have any UK staff? Surely he can't do anything about that, and there are meta-search engines out there, that forward queries to many search engines, so his results will still come up.

  20. Richard 51

    Australians flood the courts

    I have heard that if they get their wish, half a million Australians will petition the courts to expunge all records of their forebears stealing sheep. This means ripping out all those court records and burning them. This is crazy, if it is a matter of public record we should protect that record. The fact they did the crime cannot be just wiped away. Google provides a service to the public making records easily accessible. We should protect that.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bad idea

    Well before Europe's RTBF law, I exposed a little racket by using Google to dig up their prior bankruptcy judgements in multiple European countries. It wasn't easy, and the professionals missed it, allowing these crooks to embezzle $$MEEELLIONS in state business development loans and VC funding in the US.

    Now, doxxing will be the only impediment to eurotrash con artists. Enjoy the kleptocracy.

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