Criminals can claim 'right to be forgotten' following landmark Google case

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The man, referred to publicly only as NT2 since disclosing his name would completely undermine the goal of the court order, demanded that Google remove search results about a past crime that he had committed - conspiring to intercept communications - and for which he had served six months in jail over a decade ago.

A United Kingdom businessman has won his legal action to remove search results about his criminal conviction in a landmark "right to be forgotten" case that could have wide-ranging repercussions for Google and other search providers.

While Google, Bing and other search engines can remove links from their search results, they cannot delete the news articles or web pages.

Lawyers said their claims, which were brought under data protection law and for "misuse of private information", were the first of their kind to be aired in England. He similarly petitioned Google to remove search results about a crime he had committed, for which he served four years in jail.

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The lawyers said the ruling "has wide-ranging and general implications for take-down requests and subsequent action in relation to inaccurate personal data and references to spent convictions on the internet".

The original European Union court ruling on the right to be forgotten failed to outline clear terms for when the search engine should remove information. The two linked cases are: NT1 v. Google and NT2 v. Google, High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Case No.'s HQ15X04128 and HQ15X04127.

Both businessmen, who were convicted of criminal offences many years ago, argued that their convictions were now legally "spent", and that they have been rehabilitated. "We are pleased that the court recognized our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgments they have made in this case".

What is the right to be forgotten?

. "The information is of scant if any apparent relevance to any business activities that he seems likely to engage in".

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An earlier 2014 ruling in the European Court of Justice that online links to outdated and irrelevant subject matter should be removed when requested has resulted in 669,355 requests for links to be removed from websites, about half of which were successful, The Telegraph reported.

"Courts should also consider the context of particular search results".

Google had previously declined their requests to delete the stories, in one case citing the "substantial public interest" of providing information about the individual's "professional life". Now, the unnamed plaintiff will have his request honored by Google.

"The Court will have to balance the public's right to access the historical record, the precise impacts on the person, and the public interest".

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He added it could draw additional publicity for the information in question.

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