Google loses historic ‘right to be forgotten case’ in Britain

A British High Court ruled Friday in favor of a businessman fighting Google to remove a past crime from search results.

On Friday, Google lost a landmark case against a businessman fighting to remove a past crime from search results. File Photo by Asif Islam/Shutterstock
On Friday, Google lost a landmark case against a businessman fighting to remove a past crime from search results. File Photo by Asif Islam/Shutterstock

In the landmark “right to be forgotten” case, Justice Mark Warby issued the ruling in London. He rejected a similar claim brought by a second businessman who was jailed for a more serious offense.

The winning businessman, who was not named due to reporting restrictions, was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. Known as NT2, he spent six months in jail.

The other businessman, known as NT1, who lost his case, was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely. He spent four years in jail.

The men took Google to court when the company refused to remove search results about their convictions, including links to news articles that the businessmen claimed were no longer relevant.

The court found that NT2 showed remorse and acknowledged his guilt, whereas NT1 continued to mislead the public.

“NT2 has frankly acknowledged his guilt and expressed genuine remorse,” the court found. “There is no evidence of any risk of repetition. His current business activities are in a field quite different from that in which he was operating at the time.”

NT1, however, has “not accepted his guilt.”

“He remains in business, and the information serves the purpose of minimizing the risk that he will continue to mislead, as he has in the past,” the court said. “Delisting would not erase the information from the record altogether, but it would make it much harder to find.”

Google said it would accept the rulings.

“We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest,” Google said in a statement. “We are pleased that the court recognized our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgments they have made in this case.”

By Sara Shayanian