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Remove newspaper articles for victim of crime

Remove newspaper articles for victim of crime

How victims of crime can remove news articles from the internet

If you have unfortunately become a victim as a result of an attack that has left you physically scarred for life, you will most likely want news articles that reported the attack, removed from the internet so that you can move on with your life. The right to be forgotten also applies to victims of crime. 

The right to be forgotten exists to enable individuals to have content regarding their personal life removed from the internet where it is perceived as serving no purpose in continuing to exist otherwise. Although some articles may include information which can be deemed as informative and within the public interest for many years to come, there are many factors that could persuade news publishers and internet search engines to have those articles deleted from the internet or delisted from internet search results.

Right to be forgotten victim of crime case example

How to approach newspapers to remove news articles

How to ask search engines to delist news articles

How to remove search prediction from Google

Solicitor thoughts about the case

Right to be forgotten victim of crime case example

Our client Rachel (not her real name) was a victim of an unprovoked acid attack when she was 19. She was left with disfiguring injuries requiring her to undergo plastic surgery. When she was 29, married, and expecting her first child in a few months, she came to see our right to be forgotten lawyers. News articles and images appeared online for searches for her name, relating to this attack, and included images of her injuries.

When she was in the hospital, immediately after she suffered the attack, the police prompted her to agree to have her pictures taken, so that they could put out press releases, which would hopefully help identify her attacker. At the time, Rachel’s state of mind was still highly impacted by the very recent attack. She was under a lot of pressure and agreed to have her pictures taken by the police. The appearance of the news articles about her attack, and later on about the evidence she had given to the court, once her attacker got caught, served as a constant reminder for her of the attack. She was unable to move on with her life, no matter how hard she tried.

Her approach to the various newspapers to have the articles deleted was largely met with sympathy but with resistance. The majority of the newspapers refused to delete the news articles, citing their right various legitimate rights that the press has in this regard. Upon fully understanding her plight, having to still live with the consequences of what happened to her so many years ago, the firm had become committed to assisting her in every possible way.

Right to Be Forgotten Victims of Crime FAQ 

The right to be forgotten is a legal principle allowing individuals to have certain data about them removed from the internet, especially when it's no longer relevant or serves no legitimate purpose. For crime victims, this means they can request to have news articles or content related to their victimization removed or delisted from search engines, aiding their recovery and allowing them to move on with their lives.

Yes, victims of crime can request to have news articles reporting their attack removed from the internet under the right to be forgotten. This is particularly relevant if the content serves no ongoing public interest or is causing ongoing distress, allowing the victim to seek some form of digital privacy and peace.

Several factors might influence the removal of such content, including the elapsed time since the incident, changes in the victim's circumstances, the nature and severity of the incident, the victim's current status in the community, and whether the continued availability of the content serves any significant public interest or journalistic purpose.

Victims should start by formally requesting the publisher to remove the content. If this doesn't work, they can submit a request to search engines like Google to delist the content from search results. It's advisable to provide clear reasons why the content is no longer relevant or how it's causing harm. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in such matters can also provide guidance and increase the chances of a successful request.

The right to be forgotten isn't absolute and has limitations, particularly if the content is deemed in the public interest or of significant historical, statistical, or scientific relevance. Each time a request is denied by Google or other search engines, it becomes progressively harder to overturn those decisions. This accumulation of denials can solidify the standing of the content online, making it increasingly challenging to argue for its removal. Therefore, seeking legal advice early can significantly impact the success of your right to be forgotten claim.

How to approach newspapers to remove news articles

In the first instance, we approached all the newspaper publishers with requests that they either delete the news articles, remove our client’s injured images or add a code to the webpage that will prevent internet search engines from accessing and listing the offending news articles in image search results. Our appeal to the newspapers was successful in part, yet, a small number of articles, from which our client could be identified, still remained on the internet.

How to ask search engines to delist news articles

We next approached Google, Bing and Yahoo with requests under the right to be forgotten to delist the offending news articles. Whilst on the face of it, all the articles and images were processed lawfully by the said search engines. If you were to ask search engines to delist news articles from the internet, you should consider submitting the following grounds:

  • the articles were no longer newsworthy as they relate to events that took place a long time ago
  • the articles contained data that was being processed by the search engines for longer than necessary
  • the processing of the articles by the search engines has a disproportionate impact on your well-being
  • in the circumstances, your rights under data protection law would override the search engines’ right to process such data
  • the publication of the news articles on internet search results breaches your right to private and family life
  • the news articles could still be available on search results as long as they don't appear in return for searches for your name
  • In our client's case, all search engines agreed to delist all the articles and images from their search results, largely on the basis of the grounds listed above.

How to remove search prediction from Google

Search predictions are also sometimes referred to as autosuggestion, are predicted searches that search engines suggest to you, when you carry out an internet search. The predicted searches are often based on popular related searches, by other internet users to the search, you have carried out and are heavily driven by each search engine’s algorithm. Sometimes even after the search engine agrees to delist a search result, the search prediction still directs internet users to the very same internet page that was delisted.

This means that whilst the offending articles were removed in relation to a search for our client’s full name, whilst internet users typed her name on Google, Google suggested a new search term which included her name plus the word “attack”. A click on that search phrase leads internet users again to the offending articles. We, therefore, required to make a fresh request to Google and Bing to manually remove the search predictions which made the offending articles available. It is normal to make those requests after the right to be forgotten request has been successful.

We worked together with Google and Bing to ensure that there was no easy access to the offending articles through autosuggestion or through automatic search predictions. Rachel was delighted with the outcome as she was now able to start moving on with her life, nearly 10 years after she became a victim of a vicious attack.

Solicitor thoughts about the case

During the initial meeting with Rachel, she spoke about how the appearance of the offending articles and images had affected her day-day life. She was about to give birth for the first time and as her due date had approached, she became increasingly depressed and concerned about her well-being and the well-being of her child. Often, we have found, during pregnancy and after giving birth, victims of past traumatic experiences, are more likely to suffer from pre-natal and post-natal depression.

Rachel was trying very hard to rebuild her life after she sustained unprovoked, life changing injuries. The internet, however, does not forget and has little or no regard for the individuals affected by its arbitrary decisions. We were successfully able to achieve all of Rachel’s goals and have the articles and photos taken down or delisted.

She was able to go on and continue living her life without the worry that those articles and images from 10 years ago would pop up on Google searches. She was appreciative of our extensive efforts and was assured that in terms of the public and her foreseeable future, the only way for people to discover what had happened to her 10 years ago, would be to ask her directly.

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