Every situation is different so by far the best way to find out how to respond to a social media legal issue is to speak to those who are most likely to have dealt with a situation similar to yours.
To find out how you can improve your reputation on the internet simply select one of the easy methods of contacting us.
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More good news for our clients who have been awaiting a decision by the High Court in relation to a right to be forgotten claim against Google. The latest right to be forgotten claim against Google was in relation to a criminal conviction which Google refused to remove references to from its search results.
The outcome of this latest right to be forgotten case would help remove a great deal of uncertainly from right to be forgotten applications in relation to past criminal convictions. We have advised clients who we previously marked their right to be forgotten cases as borderline or 50% to get back in touch with us as soon as possible.
Following this latest forgotten judgment, we have written to clients whose cases are likely to be affected by the decision. We estimate that the latest right to be forgotten judgment will result in an increase of approximately 25% in the number of individuals who are eligible to have information relating to past criminal convictions removed from the internet.
As from Monday, 15 April 2018, our team has allocated additional resources to assist callers who wish to obtain legal advice in relation to a right to be forgotten, and particularly, past criminal convictions. Our freephone telephone number 0800 612 7211 will be attended by dedicated lawyers who will answer general questions concerning past criminal convictions and a right to be forgotten. As before, we will assess each case individually, and on its merits before taking it on.
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What is the limitation period for online harassment cases?
Although there are strict time limits set by law when it comes to issuing court proceedings under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, where the claim must be filed within 6 years of the harassing act, an important consideration for anyone who is being harassed, particularly online, is to act expeditiously and without delay. Usually, in order to be able to obtain an injunction for harassment you will need to convince the court that the harassment is recent. Another point, more specific to online harassment and limitation is that harassment on a website is arguably occurring each day all over again regardless of when it was posted first because each day the harassing website is published represents a new harassment event to the victim causing the victim alarm or distress. The limitation period in harassment cases requires detailed consideration in relation to each and every case. Therefore, we advise that you speak to a specialist harassment lawyer about the limitation period which might apply to your case.
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The damage to reputation and well-being as result of posts or threats of posts on social media, particularly on Twitter and Instagram is often impossible to quantify. If you have suffered damage to your reputation as a result of being defamed on Twitter, it likely that we can help you seek redress through defamation laws.
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Cohen Davis solicitors welcome clients who wish us to take on their harassment cases on a no win no fee basis. Because of the high number of cases where volnurable victims experience harassment on the internet yet the limited number of solicitors who are true specialists in handling online harassment cases, we have developed a criteria to enable those who wish us to represent them on harassment cases on a no win no fee basis, to try and determine in advance whether their case is likely to be eligible for a no win no fee representation.
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Injunction against the unknown Defendants to prevent further harassment
The Claimant in the case used the picture-sharing social media service Instagram for his PR business and for social networking. At one point the Claimant started to receive dozens harassing messages via his Instagram account. The Defendant, was, or were anonymous uses who created a number of Instagram accounts which they used to harass their victim. They posted posts and images which were particularly vile and highly offensive. They included personal attacks on the victim with a racial and sexual element hard-core sexual images and pictures of beheaded men. The campaign encompassed distressing references to the victim’s family home and parents and it included threats to exacerbate the nature and scale of his campaign of harassment and/ or disclose private information, or purported private information, about the victim and his family. The victim sought an injunction against the unknown Defendants to prevent further harassment and the disclosure of private information about him under Protection from Harassment Act 1998 and to prevent publication of private information under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Interim injunction pending disclosure of the identification of anonymous Instagram users
The victim asked the court to grant an interim injunction against the unknown Defendants pending an application for disclosure of their identity against from Instagram (known as Norwich Pharmacal Order) to assist him in identifying the individual (or individuals) responsible for the campaign. By that point, Instagram has already agreed to provide the information sought but it was going to take a little of time before Instagram would have been able to compile all the information pertaining to the disclosure of the identity of the anonymous users. So the basis for the urgency of the injunction application was that it could take some time before Instagram could provide the required identifying information and more time to process it once received. In the meantime, the Claimant required protection against the above-mentioned wrongdoings by way of an injunction.
Making an application for an harassment injunction without giving the Defendent notice of the hearing
It is inevitable that an application for an injunction against anonymous internet users will involve some derogation from general principles that govern the conduct of court hearings particularly in cases where a court hearing could result in restriction of the Defendant’s freedom of speech. For example, where anonymous internet users are concerned, it will generally not be practical to notify the Defendant of the court hearing as require by s. 12(2) HRA 1998 and CPR r 25.3(2) and (3) because the Claimant is unable to identify any potential perpetrator. Furthermore, often anonymous online harassers are fearful of escalation in the nature and scale of the publications and by the threats made to the victim so the victim might be too fearful to initiate pre-hearing contract with the Defendant. In the case of DDF the Defendant, via Instagram had made threats of serious violence against the victim. In other cases, the Claimant might be subjected to blackmail or to other forms of intimidation. Therefore the anonymity of the Defendant and recent escalation of the intensity of the campaign of their harassment against the victim coupled with the increasingly threatening nature of the messages were found to be compelling reasons for bringing such application without notice to the Defendant.
Making an application for an harassment injunction without serving any court papers on the Defendent
Another example of derogation from general principles that govern the conduct of court hearings is in relation to providing the Defendant access to relevant legal docu-ments. The Claimant applied for an Order to provide that no copies of the state-ments of case in the claim, and no copies of the witness statements and applications will be provided to a non-party without further order of the court.
Making an application for an harassment injunction in "secret" by granting Anonymity and Reporting Restriction.
In relation to his protecting his anonymity, this was in order to ensure the protection of the victim’s rights under Article 8 European Convention of Hunan Rights (a right to private life). There was no public interest in naming the victim which could outweigh the interference with his and his family’s Article 8 rights which this would entail. As to the reporting restriction, the question for the court when such a request is made is whether there is sufficient general, public interest in publishing a report of the proceedings which identifies a party and/or the normally reportable details to justify any resulting curtailment of his right and his family's right to respect for their private and family life.
An harassment injunction against anonymous internet users would result in restriction of the user’s freedom of speech
An injunction against anonymous internet users would result in restriction of the user’s freedom of speech which is a right granted under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. S. 12(3) of the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that the court may only grant a pre-trial interim relief, which might affect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression where the victim is likely to establish at trial that publication of the information in question should not be allowed.
Service of legal documents via social media
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the case of DDF was in relation to service of the injunction against the Defendant, once granted. First, the victim sought an Order that he be permitted to serve the claim form and injunction on the Defendant via Instagram. CPR r. 6.15 pro-vides for service by an alternative method or at an alternative place where there is a good reason to authorise service by a method or place not permitted by the Part. The application must be sup-ported by evidence and may be made without notice. The most important purpose of service is to ensure that the contents of the documents are communicated to the Defendant. As the Defendant was yet to be identified and the injunction sough was urgent (because further and more widespread harassment and/or disclosures of private information were threatened) the only means of contact which the claimant had at that point in relation to the defendant was the defendant’s Instagram account. The combination of the urgency to restrain the Defendant and the anonymous method of communication used meant that there was good reason for the Court to authorise service via Instagram; this would ensure communication of the documents to the defendant. As Instagram was based in the USA, the court had to also grant permission for the legal documents to be served outside the jurisdiction.
Specific technical challenges when serving injunctions via Instagram
Finally, service of legal documents via Instagram requires some additional perpetrations. First, many social media sites, including Instagram have minimum requirement of image size and pixels. The documents you must comply with those requirements otherwise they will either not be posted at all or be too unclear for the recipient to read. For example, you cannot simply photocopy or PDF an A4 document and post in via Instagram because the document will not be readable. To ensure that service is properly affected each page of the injunction must be converted into a small number of high resolution readable images. The only way to post messages via Instagram is by using a mobile device. Unlike email, when a user deletes their Instagram account, the messages they had already sent to other users are automatically be deleted from the recipients’ account too. This means that as soon as a copy of the injunction is posted to the defendant, the poster must make an instant screen grab to prove that they serve the legal document. Otherwise, if the Defendant deletes their Instagram account after service but before the screen grab, there will be no way for the poster to prove that they actually posted the injunction because all the documents relating to the deleted Instagram account will instantly disappear.
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Cohen Davis Solicitors acting for the Claimant
Being a sex worker and advertising yourself as such on the internet does not mean you can't have a private life, says judge as Cohen Davis obtains a privacy injunction for its escort client.
The client, who advertised herself as an escort hadn’t lost her right to keep information in relation to her sexuality private. Cohen Davis brought the proceedings and an application for a privacy injunction on behalf of our client, who was also granted by the High Court a right to anonymity. She is only known as GYH. Our privacy lawyers took the legal proceedings against "persons unknown" as, despite extensive efforts, we were unable to prove on balance of probabilities the identity of our client’s harasser.
In yet another ground-breaking case, Cohen Davis’ team has obtained one of our most important judgements of this year, whilst securing a privacy injunction for a client we care much about who works as a London Escort. Different people will find the judgement in this case significant for different reasons. If you are a business owner, or work in a business, it means that there should be a separation between your private life and your work life so far as the internet publications are concerned even if on occasions the two aspects of your life may overlap.
Those who provide personal services don’t necessarily have to compromise their right to private life, even if they advertise some aspects of their private life to support their commercial activities. In the case of GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN, which involved a sex worker who had both false and private information posted about her on the internet, the judge also agreed that there was no public interest in having false information about someone published online, even if that information directly relates to the services the person provides to the public.
GYH became the subject of a campaign of harassment, which included, among other things, the tagging of dozens of pornographic videos with her name. The harassing posts also included references to her sexuality, to her sexual preferences as well as false claims that she was having unprotected sex. These are private matters even in relation to someone who is a sex worker. This followed by further false allegations that she was an HIV/Aids positive. Again, the court agreed that matters concerning one’s health are private matters unless there was a clear public interest in those matters being made public. Granting the privacy injunction, Mr Justice Warby, sitting at the London High Court said that a privacy injunction was "amply justified" to restrain continued harassment of GYH and the misuse of private information about her.
The clear message that was sent by the court was that those individuals who provide sexual services are not excluded from a right to have their privacy protected, regardless of the fact that they might be advertising themselves as sex worker. Mr Justice Warby added that although sex workers who advertised their services on the internet might place some private information in the public domain, to which they may have no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to that or similar information, there is no question of a person waiving her right to privacy in a particular zone of her private life, merely by publicising some information falling within that zone. In other words, just because someone advertises themselves as sex workers, doesn’t mean that every aspect of their sexuality or sexual activity can be published without their consent. You can read the full judgement in the privacy injunction case of GYH v PERSONS UNKNOWN here.
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Being a sex worker does not mean you can't have a private life, says judge as Cohen Davis obtains a privacy injunction for its escort client.
In yet another ground breaking case, Cohen Davis’ team has obtained one of our most important judgements this year, whilst securing a privacy injunction for one of our clients, a London Escort.
This case, involved a sex worker who had both false and private information posted about her on the internet. She became the subject of a campaign of harassment, which included the tagging of dozens of pornographic videos with her name. The harassing posts also included references to her sexuality, to her sexual preferences as well as false claims that she was having unprotected sex.
This followed by further false allegations that she was an HIV/Aids positive. Cohen Davis brought the proceedings and an application for a privacy injunction on behalf of our client, who was also granted by the High Court a right to anonymity. She is only know as GYH. Our privacy lawyers took the legal proceedings against "persons unknown" as, despite extensive efforts, we were unable to prove on balance of probabilities the identity of our client’s harasser.
This information might still come to light in the future. Granting an interim privacy injunction, Mr Justice Warby, sitting at the London High Court said that a privacy injunction was "amply justified" to restrain continued harassment of GYH and the misuse of private information about her. The clear message that was sent by the court was that those individuals who provide sexual services are not excluded from a right to have their privacy protected, regardless of the fact that they might be advertising themselves as sex worker.
Mr Justice Warby added that although sex workers who advertised their services on the internet might place some private information in the public domain, to which they may have no reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to that or similar information, there is no question of a person waiving her right to privacy in a particular zone of her private life, merely by publicising some information falling within that zone. In other words, just become someone advertises themselves as sex workers, doesn’t mean that every aspect of sexuality or sex activity can be published without their consent.
In relation to posts online alleging that someone who provides escort services, practised unsafe sex and had contracted HIV/Aids, yet continued to work, there was no justification of allowing such posts to be publicised as long as the information was untrue. The judge added: "There is no public interest in the distribution of false information of this kind, nor is it reasonable to publish false allegations to this effect. On the contrary." Each year Cohen Davis handles dozens of cases involving harassment and breach of privacy of sex workers. The number of our clients who belong to this group is constantly increasing. Sex workers in the UK form part of a particularly volnurable group of individuals. The popularity of the internet in recent years has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who provide sexual services online and offline. This includes actresses, models, escorts, and prostitutes. There is also a growing number of individuals who take unfair advantage of volnurable sex workers.
Cohen Davis has represented dozens of sex workers and has obtained numerous privacy injunctions in their favour. In some cases, we have been able to facilitate removal of explicit material from the internet, have copyright to it transferred to our clients and obtain compensations for our clients for breach of their privacy and for the distress they have suffered.
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If your right to be forgotten application was refused by Google, don’t be disheartened. You now have at least two options to choose from before moving forward.
The first one is to make an application to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to appeal Google’s decision to refuse your right to be forgotten application, and the second is to issue Google with a s10 letter under the Data Protection Act (DPA), which in turn will trigger a legal process which could very possibly end up in court.
Reporting a Concern to the ICO against Google refusal to comply with a right to be forgotten request
To appeal Google refusal to the ICO, you will need to file what the ICO calls a “concern”. You should however treat the report of a concern to the ICO against Google's right to be forgotten refusal as an appeal and we advise that you prepare it to the highest possible standards.
The document often run to 30 pages and more and for best outcomes, we advise that it should be accompanied by an organised list exhibits and witness statements where appropriate.
A successful appeal to the ICO against Google’s rejection of your right to be forgotten application
A successful appeal to the ICO against Google’s rejection of your right to be forgotten application will result in the ICO recommending Google to delist the offending search results from its search engines.
However, this might not be the end of the matter because even after the ICO tells Google to delist search results, Google may still ask the ICO for a Review of its decision.
Google’s request for a Review
Surprisingly though, the ICO will not automatically notify you of Google’s request for a Review and you shall not expect the ICO to send you a copy of Google’s request for a Review either. It is therefore important that you remain active throughout the process because the ICO might conduct a final review of your case, which could often result in reversing its own original decision in your favour, without you even knowing about it.
What you really want is to be informed every step of the way, but this sadly don’t happen far too often. We have seen cases where the ICO made a final Review resulting in reversing its own decision, simply after it received representations from Google and without giving the complainant an opportunity to respond to Google's representations. If this happens, you could find yourself having to either convince the ICO to carry out yet another “final Review” or more likely, having to take the matter to court.
Taking Google to Court under the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You can take Google or the ICO to court, which is certainly going to be both risky and expensive, so clearly you would want to avoid this situation happening in the first place. We recommend that you discuss Google refusal of your right to be forgotten application with an experience lawyer.
Thankfully, we have wealth of experience in this field and our lawyers are happy to assist and answer any questions you might have.
What advice should you seek
We recommend that you seek legal advice before you complete a right to be forgotten application. Speak to a specialist lawyer who should know what works and how to fill out Google right to be forgotten applications in a way that will result in the highest possible likelihood of success.
In the event that your right to be forgotten application to Google is unsuccessful, discuss your strategy with a lawyer. Which option is the best one for you? Should you escalate matters with Google by issuing a s10 Notice or should you take the ICO route? Each case is different and there would be life long implications following the decision you will be making. So you do need to do whatever you can to get this decision right.
Why speak to Cohen Davis
We are the first internet lawyers in the UK. We have been handling removal of information requests from the internet for nearly 20 years. We have laweyrs in our team who are also website coders which means they understand how the internet works like no other lawyers in the country.
We have so far handled dozens of removal applications on behalf of entrepreneurs, lawyers, accountants, premier league footballers, politicians, movie stars, authors, Olympic medallists, teachers and head teachers and many others. Our success rate in obtaining positive outcomes for our clients following ICO appeals against Google refusal of right to be forgotten applications is above 90%.
Calll us free now on 0800 612 7211 or send us an email to Helpline(at)CohenDavis.co.uk. We will take care of everything else.
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Right to be forgotten. Does Google delist search results from Google searches worldwide or only from European Google searches?
The purpose of this article is to update our clients on the latest position in relation to successful Right to be Forgotten applications and the current position regarding the removal of search results from Google worldwide.
Following the Google Spain decision in 2014, Google started to remove offending links under a Right to be Forgotten from the Google searches but only from the applicant’s own country. So a successful Right to be Forgotten application made by a UK citizen would have resulted only in the removal of links to offending pages from Google.co.uk. This was highly unsatisfactory so law firms, including Cohen Davis Solicitors, had made repeated complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office until early in 2015 Google undertook to have offending search results under a Right to be Forgotten removed from all European searches.
Google, we must note, had not fully kept its promise to remove searches from across Europe which means often it has to be nagged at and threatened with legal action before it removes links to offending pages from European search results. By European we mean countries that are members of the European Economic Area and which include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
This situation was still unsatisfactory because users in these countries who searched Google.com were still able to view the links to the offending webpages on Google.com search engine. This again, resulted in complaints from Cohen Davis Solicitors and from other law firms across the EEA.
A breakthrough was made in June 2015 after the super active Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), which is the French equivalent of our Information Commissioner's Office, issued Google with a formal enforcement notice, telling Google that it had to include all Google search engine extensions in the delisting process following each successful Right to be Forgotten application. Google appealed but its appeal was rejected so in September 2015 CNIL issued Google with another formal Notice that had the power of an injunction.
It ordered Google to delist, across the board, 21 search results in relation to a French citizen who made a successful Right to be Forgotten application. The Notice stated that the protection under the Right to be Forgotten must apply to all European residents with no possible circumvention. Circumvention means, that Google users can get around the filters Google applies and still see offending search results by using all sorts of technical methods.
Google ignored the Notice and refused to delist the offending search results globally. It wrote to the French data protection regulator saying that the Notice it was issued with was unlawful and that global delisting of search results under the European Right to be Forgotten would represent disproportionate attack on freedom of expression and information. Google representations were rejected. Still, Google refused to apply the Right to be Forgotten globally. Instead, it started to delist offending search results based on IP addresses rather than Google search engine extensions.
So, if you search from a device with a European IP address, offending search results will be hidden from you from all Google search extensions but if your device has an IP address which is outside the EEA, then the offending search results will still show. In short, Google changed the way delisting works by moving away from search extension search results delivery (Google.com or Google.co.uk) to an IP address based delivery. This means that you can search any Google search extension you may, if your device delivers an IP address from the EEA, the offending search results will be hidden.
This presented an issue in relation to individuals who live close to a border between an EEA and a none EEA country who might get mixed results based on the IP address their device uses to carry out the Google search. The French data protection regulator noted this was an improvement in Google’s method of delisting offending search results yet it said that IP address geolocation criterion, which varies the protection given to a European resident according to the geographical location of the individual using the search engine, is, on principle, unsatisfactory insofar as, the delisted information remains accessible to all internet users outside the territory affected by the new filter measure, which can in any event be circumvented by any affected users.
It went as far as to state that only a measure that applies to all processing by the search engine, with no distinction between the extensions used and the geographical location of the internet user making a search, is legally adequate to meet the requirement under the Right to be Forgotten. In light of the repeated violations by Google, the French data protection regulator issued Google with a penalty of 100,000 Euros. Google appealed to France’s highest court, the Council of State (Conseil d’État). A decision in the case is expected by the end of 2017.
Google’s current position is that it will not delist search results from all its search engine extensions as a matter of course. The French data protection regulator’s position is that it must do so. So we are all waiting for the outcome of the appeal.
Cohen Davis’ position is that any data, which is found to be unlawfully processed anywhere in the EEA and which is resulting in delisting of search results under the Right to be Forgotten, must not then be processed outside of the EEA.
This is because under European data protection laws, any organisation that transfers personal data to a country outside of the EEA, must do so under the same conditions of processing which applies to processing of the same data within the EEA.
So, if processing of personal data is unlawful within the EEA, it is must also be unlawful outside of the EEA. Under European data protection law, the emphasis is on the data subject (the individual subject the data which is being processed) so the location of the person who carries out the internet search is irrelevant. This, we note has not been an argument in the French case but we expect European transfer of data regulations to form part of Google's obligations in delisting search results from Google worldwide.
Follow us on Twitter and we will let you know as soon as the court reaches a decision.
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Proven strategies to help you remove from the internet adult videos you had made earlier in your life
If say, 10 or 15 years ago, for whatever reason, you agreed to make a sex video in return for money, and that video has in the meantime been published on the internet, you might be able to have the video and any related video clips deleted from each and every website that hosts it.
At the time, when you agreed to participate in making the sex video, you might have thought of it as being a matter of little long term importance. Most actors who performed in adult films ten years ago or longer hardly anticipated that their erotic films would be cut into dozens of short clips and published and republished endless times by complete strangers who had nothing to do with creating the films. It is likely that before the production of a pornographic film you agreed to assign all your intellectual property rights to a production company who you thought would keep matters under control. The assignment of your rights to the porn video might not be valid.
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How to remove nude images and videos from the internet.
Often, models and performers who previously appeared on nude or pornographic videos wish to put their past behind them and move on with their lives.
Many wish to study a profession or start a family. Young adult film performers may have signed copyright assignment agreements with model agencies or with adult film produces which on the face of it give away all their legal rights in relation to the pornographic videos or nude images they now wish to remove from the internet.
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If you already made an application to Google under the right to be forgotten and your application was declined, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the regulator responsible for data protection in the United Kingdom, which has the power to overturn Google’s decisions.
"For most people the application to the ICO under the right to be forgotten is likely to be the very last opportunity ever to have information removed from Google searches and from the internet."
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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
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Meet Gary. Gary was a small investor in listed public companies who held shares in a gold mining company RRR PLC. As an active investor, Gary used to be involved in online investment forums such as Interactive Investors.
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Online harassment can occur even if the information published is true
This is another ground-breaking internet law case by Cohen Davis solicitors. Lawyer Yair Cohen instructed by a former senior employee at the United Nations to put an end to harassment on the internet by another UN employee.
Protection from Harassment interim injunction obtained by Cohen Davis in favour of former senior UN employee RADA-ORTIZ and ESPINOSA VADILLO  EWHC 2175 (QB).
Meet Jesus Espinosa Vadillo, a former United Nations' (“UN”) temporary employee. In 2014 JEV, who worked as an interpreter at the UN's International Maritime Organisation (“IMO”), felt aggrieved about the way he believed he was being treated by his department manager.
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"When harassment occurs on social media we will obtain an injunction, anonymise our client and allow her to continue with uninterrupted use of her social media account."
This can be particularly beneficial if you are a celebrity or if you depend on the social media account for work.
Protection from Harassment and a privacy injunction obtained by Cohen Davis in favour of our client in the case of DDF v YYZ (unreported, 5 June 2015).
In the case of DDF v YYZ, Cohen Davis obtained an injunction against an unknown Instagram user who harassed and cyberbully our client via the social media website Instagram. Our client, who we anonymised in the court order, was working in the entertainment industry and was relying on Instagram for his work as well as for personal communications.
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When was the last time you searched online for information about your own company? If the answer to this question is “never” then you are not alone. But you also need to read on…
Many organisations spend little or no time in researching themselves on the internet. This makes sense on the face of it; what could you possibly learn that you don’t already know? But it is precisely this subconscious dismissal of the notion that you could find something out that you don’t already know that enables negative ‘information’ from going undetected for so long and causing so much damage.
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Review websites are either Industry Specific or Multi Area. They create an image of a service for the public good whilst in fact, they are commercial enterprises, they are not altruistic. Their commodity is YOUR reputation, and it's free of charge. Review websites often claim to have a right to publish without responsibility for content. This claim is false; in many cases operators of review websites are also the publishers and often the editors of the posts and are therefore liable to you for defamation.
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Questions about defamatory online reviews
Many people genuinely believe and even insist that review websites are there to enhance consumer’s ability to make the right choice or to educate them in choosing; a reputable supplier, a builder, an estate agent or even a holiday provider - and they are dead wrong. The truth is that the vast majority of those who operate review websites have clever systems that are aimed at benefitting them financially by encouraging visitors to their website to write negative reviews. This is often achieved by attacking and consequently destroying the reputation of good, honest and well established businesses across the UK.
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Cohen Davis has won in the case of Phipps v Britton an apology and substantial damages from Paul Britton and his company Origin Design Ltd after they defamed, harassed and cyberbullied our client in a series of websites they created about him. This was a case where the victim felt he had been blackmailed on the internet to settle a debt. The apology took the form of a statement in open court read before His Honour Judge Moloney QC on Wednesday 20 May 2015.
Discovering the identity of internet commentators who post abusive and defamatory content online and who use an anonymous identity to defame you or your business, is often a hugely challenging, if at times impossible task and one that continues to be a global problem for victims of such internet abuse. The police in any jurisdiction will typically be very limited in being able to assist in circumstances of anonymous internet abuse and from our experience we have seen that such complaints usually go unanswered.
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Adverse results from search engines can often have severe consequences, sometimes affecting you as an individual, sometimes affecting your family and at other times affecting your business. This will seem particularly unfair where the information presented by the search engine against your name or the name of your business is untrue, deceptive or very old.
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On 12 October 2014, Google reported to have rejected more than two thirds of all the ‘right to be forgotten’ applications they received from UK applicants. By contrast, Cohen Davis has obtained nearly 92% success rate with its right to be forgotten applications to Google and the ICO.
Google’s decision to comply with any such applications is of course at their discretion (albeit in accordance with the landmark court ruling made in Google Spain SL & Google Inc v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) & Costeja González (“Google Spain”) in May 2014) and there are currently no hard and fast rules which might serve to predict an applicant’s chances of success. Indeed, when comparing some successful applications against those which Google rejected, it becomes quite apparent that (at least on the face of it) even Google does not appear to maintain a consistent approach in how it deals with each right to be forgotten request.
A right to be forgotten. Yair Cohen, UK expert lawyer in removing web pages from the internet speaks at Google Campus, London.
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The ruling came after Mario Costeja Gonzalez, a Spanish man, complained that a search of his name in Google brought up newspaper articles from 16 years ago about a sale of property to recover money he owed.
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Every organisation needs to carry out reputation risk analysis on a regular basis.
But at times of online reputation crisis, risk analysis is even more crucial than ever and needs to sit at the heart of the reputation recovery strategy. A reputation recovery strategy that encapsulates continuing reputation risk analysis will typically follow these steps:
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False reviews and other defamatory statements that appear on the internet often leave the targeted business suffocating for cash and investment. Our well polished processes to removing defamatory web pages and forum posts from the internet often gives our clients the kiss of life that saves the business from bankruptcy.
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Defamation by investors - defamation against a company
In a case that is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK concerning online defamation by investors against a company, online defamation and social media specialist solicitor firm Cohen Davis won damages for its PLC client, a gold mining company Red Rock Resources (RRR) after the company was defamed on social media by one of its small yet vocal investors.
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Are fake reviews legal in the UK?
Writing a fake online review has never been easier. A fast growing industry of online review websites leaves very little hope to those business owners who want to play it fair.
The number of fake online reviews is constantly growing. A significant number of fake online reviews are written by business owners who often act in despair after becoming victims of fake online reviews.
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It is estimated by researchers that between 16 to 20 per cent of social media reviews are fake. We believe however that the real number is much higher.
We believe that between 50 to 65 per cent of all online reviews are fake.
A research by Harvard Business School entitled “Fake It Till You Make It: Reputation, Competition, and Yelp Review Fraud 24 September 2013” points to an emerging industry of fake review creation, which is primarily being driven by business owners who either leave positive reviews for themselves, negative reviews for their competitors or a combination of both.
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Company directors often prefer to remove damaging webpages from public sight by using a discrete method to push the derogatory webpages down in the search results of Google.
This method often results in satisfactory resolution of many of the issues that negative webpages may bring on a company generally and on its sales team in particular.
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It is possible to ease the pain caused by online defamation through principles of tactical transparency. There are numerous examples of organisations that for a period of time suffered sustained attacks on their reputation but nevertheless managed to come out at the end of the dark tunnel cleaner, stronger and loved by their customers.
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Chilling Effects is a website that collects and publishes cease and desist letters that it receives from individuals and from organisations such as Google.
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How effective should a defamation cease and desist letter be when your aim is to have online defamation removed from a web page, a blog or a forum?
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How to respond to defamation on a review website.
Whether you are the victim of corporate defamation or of individual defamation, before responding to a bad review or to online defamation read this!
Don't rush it.
If you are considering writing a response to the defamatory article or to the negative review, then don't rush it.
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Looking for an experienced online defamation lawyer?
We achieve a high rate of success in the removal of online defamation!
In the past few years we have removed hundreds of defamatory websites from public view. Web sites, which up until then devastated our clients’ reputation. This includes a vast number of defamatory videos from YouTube as well as articles from national news websites.
We removed content from Google Inc, YouTube, Firefox, Bing, TripAdvisor, MoneySavingExpert and other well known internet websites around the globe and successfully negotiated the removal of web pages in the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries.
If you are searching for a defamation lawyer who is also an internet law legal expert, be assured that you have arrived at the right place.
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Can I write a letter to ask for the web page that contains defamation to be removed from the internet?
Online Reputation travels fast and because so many members of the public wrongly believe that they can hide behind a made up name in an online forum to post comments without being accountable for the consequences of their comments, you can see how your business reputation could be completely tarnished almost overnight.
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Your employees are the people who are most likely to take a confrontational approach on the internet against your company.
Disgruntled employees are responsible for much of the defamatory and unauthorised dissemination of information about a company and its practices.
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Like a hurricane sweeping through, savagely devastating innocent lives, online reputation crises tend to visit organisations with little warning as to their actual strength, their impact, or their destructive intentions. A story that does not go away within days or weeks is likely to stay on and increase in traffic over time.
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Online reputation attacks can be significantly more powerful when videos are used to attack someone’s reputation. Google, which owns YouTube, appears to be pushing hard to include video posts in its search results. If there is an available video match to a specific search term, it is likely that this video will score highly in the search terms and make its way to the top page of the search results.
Google aims to offer those who use its search engine a variety of information types, including regular web pages, blogs, social networks, videos, and images.
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What is a Google bomb?
The phrase Google bomb is used to describe various practices and techniques aimed to "marry" two or more unrelated words of phrases in order to bring about a particular search result.
An example would be when a phrase such as “Teacher Paedophile in South London” is artificially linked to the name of an innocent individual.
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Can I obtain an injunction against Google?
The first UK Google injunction was obtained in 2011 by Yair Cohen. The order required Google to reveal personal details of individuals who were defaming a UK business on the internet.
The claimant, who was seeking the injunction against Google was a news publishing group, Wyvern Media, which at the time was servicing tens of thousands of customers each year. Despite Wyvern's genuine attempt to satisfy them all, a small number of customers remained disgruntled.
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In this article we will briefly discuss the law of defamation in England.
The main aim of defamation law in England is to provide an opportunity for individuals and companies to assert their good reputation against attack.
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Defamation by an ex-employee. What can I do about it?
It is not uncommon for disgruntled former employees to go on a campaign of defamation against their former employer’s company.
The defamation normally occurs through blogs, emails and by initiation of discussion groups in forums aimed at throwing as much dirt as possible at the former employee's company.
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In our younger days, some of us did things we later came to regret. We wronged people or made them upset. Guilty as charged. We can't turn back the wheels of time, however and usually we mature and move on to better and greater things.
But what if, out of the blue, an indiscretion from 10, 20, or 30 years ago suddenly resurfaces, wreaking havoc on our family life, our business, our achievements, our good name? It resurfaces because someone causes it to, in order to destroy everything we have worked for.
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How SEO is used to spread defamation
Everyone has a soft spot. Being called a certain bad name in public could cause you a lot of damage and harm your career.
For example, a doctor might be described as "negligent", a solicitor as "incompetent", a builder as a "cowboy", or a teacher as "stupid". Such labels would be regarded by any of these people as a personal attack on their reputation and integrity.
But perhaps the most harmful insult of all was suffered by a top civil servant who was a social worker for the Children’s Service at a district council in the north of the country.
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Internet law includes any legal issue related to the internet.
It might be private, commercial, technical, criminal, or some other branch of law. The important thing to remember is that the solicitor who handles it must have special knowledge of both the "deep web" and the back-end technology of the internet in order to meet their client's goals.
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Many business owners ask, What is the difference between "marketing" and "online reputation management"?
The common use of these two terms is rather confusing. In reality they refer to totally different things.
"Marketing" is commonly defined as the act of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers.
"Reputation management" on the other hand is defined as the building, maintenance, and recovery of the organisation’s desirable image.
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Internet Defamation Dictionary
Definition Of Adwords Advertising
Adwords is the name of a Google advertising programme where someone in effect pays rent to Google to secure a prominent position in the search results for their website or blog. Payment to Google is made only when someone clicks on the advert.
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What is Internet Law?
Here are some of the most commonly used terms in the context of internet defamation. You will find this special terminology repeated elsewhere on our website. Understanding this special language will help you understand the problems that you are facing and their causes as well as their solutions.
Adwords Advertising is Google's advertising programme, where someone pays rent to Google to secure a prominent position in the search results for their website or blog. The payment to Google is made only when someone clicks on the advert.
In the context of internet defamation, a defamer might carry out an Adwords advertising campaign for the exclusive purpose of sending visitors to a defamatory webpage.
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You've been dragged through the mud on the internet. Your reputation is being assaulted with vicious lies, and you don't even know who's telling them.
The situation is urgent, but what should you do? You do a little research but find conflicting advice: Hire an SEO expert! Hire a PR consultant! Talk to someone experienced in e-commerce sales! Get yourself a lawyer.
The truth is, removing defamation from the internet involves no single magic solution.
After many years of costly trial and error, here's what I discovered: Only one trick will secure you the best opportunity to remove defamation from the internet from public view, and this trick is called EXPERIENCE. Believe me when I tell you this. I am a lawyer!
Get your strategy wrong and you will be doomed for a very very long time.
With online defamation, just when you think that things cannot possibly get worse - they suddenly do.
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Have you experienced a reduction in sales lately? Maybe it’s due to the current economic climate, or maybe it’s because your marketing strategy has not been updated to reflect the global economic changes of the past few years. Maybe it’s a combination of those factors.
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I have been defamed on the internet. What can I do about this?
The ability to list web pages on the top page of the search results for a long period of time is normally a function of either excellent workmanship or an unintended random consequence of Google algorithm. Names of individuals and companies are easy targets for the purpose of internet defamation or even just to cause someone reputational, emotional or financial damage.
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Victims of online harassment, intimidation, and defamation often feel hopeless and powerless to act. In many instances they feel scared and paralysed.
If you have been a victim of an online reputation attack and have tried to report your attackers to the police, you were probably shocked and disappointed to learn that your local police force either was not interested, didn’t understand the problem, or is underfunded and unable to invest time and resources in investigating your case.
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