back to article Whoops! Google forgot to delete Right To Be Forgotten search result

Ten days after Google lost a Right To Be Forgotten judgment in London's High Court, one of the search results the judge ordered the search giant to delete was still online – until The Register asked Mountain View what it was doing there. The result in question came up when the real name of NT2, the businessman who successfully …

  1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Trollface

    Google declined to comment.

    Carter-Ruck declined to comment.

    Did The Register approach NT2 for comment (since they know his identity), and what was his reply?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      The "declined to comment" says more than what they want or so it seems. Maybe "the fix" is in between Google and lawyers? Or this could be grounds for a future lawsuit so their hiding their cards until it's time to play them.

    2. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      The point of hiring a solicitor is that they handle other enquiries as well as the legalese. Little-known thing, I guess.

    3. steviebuk Silver badge

      You can't ask NT2. As since the case ended, they will have forgotten themselves :)

      I'll get my coat.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have you tried searching his name with a date range of say 1/1/2000 to 1/1/2011?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

    just like the other "famous" names that try to hide their infidelities of various kinds.

    It creates so much discussion that the original intent is wasted and the information becomes too widely known to control.

    He was probably better off leaving it alone and simply let it degrade in its relevance over time. Although the internet rarely "forgets" finding things in it is not always trivial.

    1. Paul

      Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

      The "Streisand Effect"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

      It's always a toughy. We had a contractor at one of our sites last year who was fired because he'd failed to declare a previous conviction on his application form. During a large meeting, someone recognised his name and wondered if he was the same John Doe from this case he remembered.

      One quick Google later, and up pop several news reports - complete with police mugshot confirming it was him.

      The thing is, the guy was doing a decent job and nobody had any problems with him, however the HR department insisted it was gross misconduct to lie on an application form and so he was promptly removed from the site.

      Removing old news from the Internet therefore is a tricky one. On one hand, people who've made mistakes, done something stupid, served their time and are trying to rehabilitate and move on with their lives deserve second chances. However, being able to purge old content like this also makes it much easier for such people to lie about past convictions without employers being able to check and confirm things. Like I say, a tricky one...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        Google are only forced to delete the search results on spent convictions. Which it's not lying about if you don't disclose (as you're not required to). Unless you're filling in the forms for some kinds of enhanced checking/vetting - where you have to declare everything.

        So the law has already covered this area.

        1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

          But it's a bit awkward explaining the 2 year gap in the CV - either admit you were breaking rocks on Dartmoor or lie and claim you were an MI6 agent working in Bolivia - but can't talk about it. I suppose you could try "Government work".

          The principle is tricky, as noted by an earlier comment. If someone is reformed, with or without a conviction being 'spent' and you know about it, then you can let them do the job, but with a watchful eye - or not - you could just trust them. If they are reformed the most watchful eye will probably be their own. But possibly avoid employing a multiple arsonist in a match factory.

          Some years ago I lived in a village where there was also an ex-sex offender. Everyone knew, so no problem. Life moves on. But some people won't let life move on.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

            "But it's a bit awkward explaining the 2 year gap in the CV"

            Assuming this gap was over 4 years ago then you simple tell the HR person where you were and remind them that it is now a spent conviction and that the rehabilitation of offenders act means they are not permitted to take any account of this information (unless the job is in one of the specific areas where this doesn't apply)

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
              Happy

              Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

              Or tell them you were on tour doing backing-vocals for Justin Bieber...

              1. Jedit
                Trollface

                "tell them you were on tour doing backing-vocals for Justin Bieber..."

                If you were on tour with Bieber doing backing vocals, why would you not lie and say you were in Dartmoor?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

              Any potential employee who takes it upon themselves to remind me of something like that just talked themselves out of a job. If you've done time for something, contrition, not cockiness is what a prospective employer wants.

            3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

              Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

              some convictions are never spent.....

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

                Indeed. Any conviction with a custodial sentence exceeding 30 months, IIRC, is never "spent" insert current law. Additionally, if someone has more than one criminal conviction a Basic Disclosure check will show all convictions, spent or not whereas a single spent conviction would be filtered. Again, under current law.

                In addition, no criminal conviction is "spent" when applying for a travel visa to various countries.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

                  You're a bit out of date. The law changed in 2014 and it's now any sentence greater than 4 years which is never spent. (at least in England & Wales)

                  Again you're also wrong about the Basic Disclosure. If you have a number of convictions and they are all spent then none will show on a Basic Disclosure.

                  What you may be thinking of is that If you already have an unspent conviction and you get a further conviction before the earlier one becomes spent, then neither conviction will become spent until the longest of them does.

            4. tiggity Silver badge

              Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

              Might not be a big CV gap - suspended sentences are a thing for rich white collar crooks with friends in high places.

              Caveat - I do not know who NT2 is, but the sort of person who employs Carter Ruck likely fits that profile

      2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        "We had a contractor at one of our sites last year who was fired because he'd failed to declare a previous conviction on his application form. "

        Do you have to reveal spent convictions if you're applying for a job where they aren't relevant?

        Also, are you allowed to fire people for getting convictions while they are employed?

        Obviously this only applies to cases where the conviction isn't relevant to the job, so perhaps all dishonesty and crimes against a person might always apply. But can you fire someone for drunk driving, assuming driving isn't part of their job?

        I know in NZ there was a weird situation for a while (which may have been cleared up) where you could ask if a person had previous convictions, but they do not have to give a response. So an application form can ask it, and if you leave the question blank you're OK. But if you write "no" and have a record, then you can get fired for lying on the application, since it's technically fraud (Intent to use a Document for Pecuniary Advantage).

        I've also had one job where the lack of convictions actually counted against me. It was in a big commercial kitchen (6 teams of 5-7 cooks, plus a dozen other bakers, hands and porters) leading one of the teams, and about half the staff had convictions for violence. Even the sweet old maori lady had spent time inside for manslaughter (she ran over her pregnant daughter's abusive boyfriend. Several times. With a large Holden) while another of the team leaders had done a long stretch for a double murder.

        Then again, most exec chefs look like they are at least capable of murder.... :)

        1. Prosthetic Conscience
          Trollface

          Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

          But if you write "no" and have a record, then you can get fired for lying on the application, since it's technically fraud

          Aaah so that's why the Home Office is always asking if I have committed crimes against humanity. I just thought that was their system for keeping dangerous fugitives out of the country.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

            "But if you write "no" and have a record, then you can get fired for lying on the application, since it's technically fraud"

            I think that's basically the reasoning behind some of the questions on the security clearance form:

            https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/669196/20160927-Form_NSV001_v0.2-U.pdf :

            "Have you ever been involved in Espionage?"

            "Have you ever been involved in terrorism?"

            "Have you ever been involved in sabotage?"

            Have you ever been involved in actions intended to overthrow or undermine Parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means?

            Have you ever been a member of, or supported, a group or groups involved in any of the above activities?

            Have you ever had a close association with anyone, including any member of your family, who, to your knowledge, has been a member of or given active support to any such group or activities?

            I don't fancy your chances if you answer 'yes' to all those!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

          > I've also had one job where the lack of

          > convictions actually counted against me.

          Paranoid much?

      3. LeahroyNake Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        If it was considered spent under the rehabilitation of offenders act then they can ask but he does not have to declare it. Much like car or home insurance.

        He should get a solicitor to look into it.

      4. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        ...The thing is, the guy was doing a decent job and nobody had any problems with him, however the HR department insisted it was gross misconduct to lie on an application form and so he was promptly removed from the site....

        Of course, telling the truth on his application form would have meant that he would not have been considered for the job anyway.... so at least he got SOME pay out of it.

        Let's hope that can tide him over for however long it takes for his conviction to be spent. 10 years?

      5. Little Mouse

        Re: Sounds like many sites will publish enough hints

        "We had a contractor at one of our sites last year"

        In the UK at least, jobbing contractors are typically only on a week's notice and have minimal rights compared to their PAYE cousins.

        Gross misconduct, or any whiff of a scandal, and they are often simply shown the door - no explanation necessary. Everyone knows why they've gone, but nothing is officially recorded.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Bloody Newbie Hipster Techies....

    ..Right Click > Empty Recycle Bin.

    It's not hard!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was initially inclined to side with NT2 on this on principle, but using Carter-Fuck? Defenders of Scientology?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      It's not their fault who their barrister may or may not have worked for. Remember that chambers aren't a unified buiness anyway, it's a partnership where everyone chips in for the expenses, but earn their own money doing their own job. It's commonplace for barrisers from the same chambers to appear against each other for both defence and prosecution.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Carter-Fuck? Defenders of Scientology?"

      ...and persecutors of Private Eye?

      1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        ......and persecutors of Private Eye?...

        Ah! So there IS some good in them after all...

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > I was initially inclined to side with NT2 on this on principle, but using Carter-Fuck? Defenders of Scientology?

      According to the initial report here, NT2's trial was not only heavily covered in media, but he was stupid enough to give interviews about the conviction after being released from prison.

      He got his way in court because the judge decided "he was truly penitent" (unlike NT1, who lost) - which is something neither you or I would have gotten if we'd been giving interviews before the conviction was spent. There really is one law for the filthy rich and one for everyone else.

      And of course, whilst the order was made against Google, it wasn't made against any other search engine.

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      A not unreasonable and valid query. I often google for specific acts of parliament to see how well/badly they are being implemented and enforced.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    But how does this work?

    In the case of NT2 it may be clear, but how does 'John Smith' of Birmingham get his specific online mentions removed? Does he have to give a list of results to Google that he wants removed? Does he have to prove that he is 'that' John Smith? If not can I claim my name is William Cambridge and have all mentions of me and my children removed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Re: But how does this work?

      Wow must of took me at least a whole 5 seconds to find this.

      https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/legal-removal-request?complaint_type=rtbf

      And this is supposed to be a technical site?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Re: But how does this work?

      but how does 'John Smith' of Birmingham get his specific online mentions removed

      That made me think of something my dad said once, many years ago, about one of his classmates when he was at school. The said classmate's name genuinely was John Smith (not, as far as I know, the late Labour leader), and bus conductors would give him a hard time about that:

      Conductor: "What's your name, son?"

      Schoolboy: (truthfully) "John Smith."

      Conductor: "Yeah, right, pull the other one, it's got Westminster chimes on."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't tell me

    This guy's got Phorm

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NT 3.1, NT3.5, NT3.51, NT4 But I see no evidence of any NT2, no News of it at all, not even when I look Internationally. Maybe it's the filtering of this internet connection from Sky that's stopping me.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Since the EU can't for Google to erase searches worldwide

    Does it really matter, since someone wanting to look up people who might have been "forgotten" can just use a VPN that exits elsewhere in the world and thus avoid the memory hole?

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Since the EU can't for Google to erase searches worldwide

      @DougS Indeed

      And search engines other than google exist

    2. James O'Shea

      Re: Since the EU can't for Google to erase searches worldwide

      for a small fee I can look up those who have been forgotten in the EU. no need for the VPN, just an email or a text with the request and where I can get my payment will do. This way users can honestly say that they never performed the offending search, and a check of their browser history will confirm this.

      Hmmm... a new business opportunity... Crook-Finders LLC, motto 'We find what they don't want you to know'. I wonder if el Reg would carry ads for us?

    3. Uberior

      Re: Since the EU can't for Google to erase searches worldwide

      Despite the journalists at El Reg being forced to keep quiet.

      There's nothing to stop the Scottish Press from publishing the details in their print edition. Wouldn't be the first time that I've read something in "The Scotsman" that's illegal to be published South of the Border.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid regulations made by ignorant lawmakers

    Trying to remove search results based on a user's location is very stupid. All they have to do is use a proxy or VPN outside their country to bypass it.

  13. Combat Epistomologist

    So Google forgot to remember to forget...?

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. steviebuk Silver badge

    I wonder....

    ...if the results still appear on the waybackmachine.

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