The Internet Never forgets -
Why Search Engines are the Elephant in the Criminal Records Room.
When we consider that 11 million (1 in 6) people live with the label of 'criminal' or 'ex-offender', there are growing calls (with much merit) suggesting that criminal records should be sealed in those cases where someone has made serious progress in living a crime-free life.
Far more important however, than reforming the framework around criminal records and disclosure, is the archiving of contemporaneous online reports and commentary, and their accessibility via search engines.
Almost all employers, clients, potential associates and social contacts use search engines and social media to research people, this is now as instinctive as any other business process.
Having completed a thousand Personal Disclosure Statements alongside, and on behalf of work-seekers, I can say with certainty that addressing search engine results, historic speculation and untested evidence, has become more important than explaining the offence itself.
The Right to Be Forgotten (Art 17 GDPR) was meant to give the power to request removal of outdated, inaccurate and irrelevant material, particularly where it is having a detrimental effect on someone's ability to live a normal life.
Unfortunately, this right is often ignored or defeated with the simple argument "It is still in the public interest". Such responses can be argued however and there is much to be gained by persisting with the search engines themselves and with the Information Commissioner (ICO)
We often win the removal of highly damaging material on behalf of work-seekers against search engines. One recent case related to an offence committed 30 years ago, yet Google still claimed it was in the public interest to link to online material referencing the case. After a referral to ICO it was swiftly removed.
In the words of one work-seeker:
“Despite my misdemeanor happening 7 years ago and my conviction being legally spent, when I asked Google to remove (de-index) the search links to old articles (which is a legal right), they refused. They said it was still in the public interest because people still read my case online. I wrote to solicitors but the cheapest estimated £3,000 costs and no legal aid is available. It seems like I must carry the shame of my mistake forever.” JE
I believe that if we really want people to rebuild their lives and contribute to society, we must address the legislative gaps around the continuous online publishing of criminal records and the associated backgrounds.
We have now entered an era where someone can make a mistake, break the law, be punished and pay the price that those who are most qualified to decide, the judges, have said they must pay. Despite having served their time however, they and their family continue to suffer for their crime because the historic concept of 'today's news being tomorrow's chip shop paper' no longer applies and THE INTERNET NEVER FORGETS.
You may ask, “Aren’t you curious, wouldn’t you like to know about someone?”
When it is essential to know, we have the Disclosure and Barring service (DBS formerly CRB) checks, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (also known as Clare's Law) , the Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (also known as Sarah's Law, as well as a growing range of additional court orders and multi-agency monitoring, so public protection needs are always forefront.
When it is not essential, we should not know. We should not have the opportunity to prejudge someone based on their past.
Whatever happened to someone paying their debt to society?
There must be a timescale by which one sided media reports are archived and third-party keyboard warriors are silenced, so that people can at least have a chance to build a life and contribute to society.
You can take action NOW to get internet links removed (deindexed) from search engines using one of the following two options:
We All Make Mistakes:
"As I type this, there are delete and back-space buttons on the keyboard.
probably hit delete almost as much as I write.
Why would they be there if people didn’t make mistakes, or if they didn’t do the wrong thing by accident?
Even the best people do not make all the right decisions.
Recently, I was helping my daughter with her homework and the pencil had an eraser on the end of it. We rubbed out mistakes and started again. If people didn’t make mistakes there wouldn’t be erasers on the ends of pencils.
What matters is the ability to leave our mistakes in the past, to learn and to move forwards. A fresh start, from today.
Please accept my very best wishes for your fresh start,"
You can take action NOW to get internet links removed from search engines using one of the following two options: