Remove from Google ICO right to be forgotten application
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Our client was employed as a manager by a company in the financial services industry. An article in a national newspaper (also published online) revealed some of the practices employed by that company and effectively had made our client a scapegoat to the company’s alleged wrongdoing.
When news broke out about the company’s alleged practices, it allowed our client to become a scapegoat and did nothing to try and defend its practices or our client’s position as an employee
who simply followed instructions. Our client became a national hate figure and the target of anger to her company’s practices and unfortunately remained as such long after leaving employment there.
The newspaper declined to remove the article from its website so we applied to under a right to be forgotten to have the news article delisted from its search results Google’s refused so our specialist right to be forgotten lawyers applied to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with a request that the ICO orders Google to remove the news article from search results as the article had made unfair extensive references to our client.
Google refused to remove links to the news article from search results under a right to be forgotten on the basis that the article referred to news which were still relevant and in the public interest.
Following our lawyers’ application, the ICO had overruled Google’s decision having considered a list of factors they would take into account when considering concerns from individuals whose requests to Google under a right to be forgotten to remove information from search results had been refused.
The main reason for the successful ICO application was that the news article referred to an event that took place whilst our client was employed by the financial services company as a manager. The ICO, having considered the relevant factors in relation to the removal request, decided it was unlikely that Google’s processing of personal data in relation to a search for our client’s name complied with the Data Protection Act.
The ICO considered that our client was no longer employed by the company for over a year at the time of the application. The search result which represented her as a boss in that company was therefore misleading. The ICO also considered that our client was acting under instructions from her supervisor but that the news article gave the misleading impression that our client had been in charge of decision making in the company during the relevant time, making our client the focus for any criticism.
As a result of the information appearing in Google search result, and the news article that it linked to, our client had been subjected to some highly distressing and offensive comment online and highly diminished future employment prospects.
The ICO therefore agreed that our clients’ ability to obtain employment outweighed the public interest in the information remaining available via search results. The ICO therefore considered that the information featuring was no longer relevant and it ordered Google to remove the result within 28 days.
Google has appealed and our lawyers have cross appealed. The final decision is still pending and we will update this website once the ICO had made a final determination.