Removing links from search engine results

Judith Thompson

Since May 2014, people within the EU have had the right to request that Google and other internet search engines remove search results which appear in a search against their name. This has become known as the right to be forgotten.

How to make an application for the right to be forgotten

Applications for the right to be forgotten, also known as search engine de-listing, are made in a specific form for each search engine, and they will require certain information to be submitted with the application. This varies according to which search engine you are applying to. 

Will my application for the right to be forgotten be successful?

There are no guarantees about whether an application will be successul. However, the search engines ought to remove the links where the information in them is irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate. 

Why might my application for the right to be forgotten fail?

The most common reason for applications to fail, is where it is in the public interest that the information in the search results is available online.

If the person in question is a public figure, or if the search result relates to an unspent criminal conviction, it is likely that it would be considered to be in the public interest. 

If a search engine will not agree to remove links from search results, within the UK inidividuals have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office. The ICO will consider whether data protection principles are infringed by the publication of the websites in question, and can require the search engines to take action. 

What will happen if my application is successful?

If your application for the right to be forgotten is successful, the unwanted search results will usually disappear from a search of your name within a few hours.

The search engines have no control over the operators of the websites where the information appears, and so if an application is successful, the website with the offending material will not be taken down. However, if the website does not appear in search results, it is very unlikely that internet users would find the website in question. 

What should I do next?

At Samuels Solicitors, we have helped many clients with reputation management issues, and have assisted many clients with applications for the right to be forgotten, and appeals to the Information Commissioner's Office. 

We will almost always act for clients in these matters on a fixed fee basis, which we will agree in advance, so there are no nasty surprises later on. 

If you want to make an application to remove search results from the internet, contact us today to discuss how we can help. 

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