In a ground-breaking 76-page judgment, Mr Justice Warby has ruled that a businessman, NT2, who was jailed for 6 months has been successful in his "de-listing" claim to force Google to remove search links that appeared on Google relating to NT2's crime and criminal sentence that came to an end over 10 years ago.
In a separate case (but within the same judgement), Mr Justice Warby rejected a similar ‘delisting’ claim from businessman NT1, who was convicted of a more serious crime.
Currently, anyone can apply to Google to have specific results for queries that include their name removed from Google – see here.
Internet search results can, amongst other things, have a huge impact on an individual’s reputation – an outdated, irrelevant or vindictive internet page can follow an individual around for life in circumstances where there may be little or no public interest in the page still appearing in search engine results.
The judgement showed that, when considering requests to remove such content from search results, Google will have to carefully balance an individual’s right to privacy against the public interest in ensuring that certain information about individuals is available.
The court will consider each case on its facts, but when considering claims to remove information from Google search results, many factors will be relevant, including:
- is the individual a public figure who’s conduct in the past is relevant to their ongoing public role;
- the nature of the content being subject to a de-listing request – does it relate to the individual’s business life rather than private life? If relating to a spent criminal conviction, was it a serious crime that the public have the right to know about?
- the impact and interference of the information on the individual’s family life.
A businessman has won his legal action to remove search results about a criminal conviction in a landmark “right to be forgotten” case that could have wide-ranging repercussions.