A GERMAN ex-con is the latest European to win the ‘right-to-be-forgotten' under European Union rules.
The unnamed (well, duh) complainant was guilty as charged - he shot two people whilst about a yacht in 1982 - but argued that he had served his time and that he wants to protect the family name, so we're going to call him ‘Gunther'.
Although the case stretches back to the early Eighties, the issue really emerged when German magazine Der Spiegel published some archive articles about the case in 1999. In 2002, Gunther The Ripper was released from jail, and in 2009 became aware that the articles were floating about.
Gunther argued that the news articles were inhibiting his "ability to develop his personality," and went to federal court.
The case was thrown out in 2012, with the court arguing that public interest outweighed privacy in this particular circumstance.
Gunther persisted, and after lots of legal gubbins, the rule was overturned yesterday in Germany's highest court. It will now return to Federal court for an inevitably more sympathetic hearing.
The issue of the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten' is a contentious one, which has seen Google fall out with the EU on several occasions. In many ways, it's the ultimate implementation of criminal justice - you do the crime, you do the crime, you get a fresh start. But given that we've allowed the internet to be powered by people's data, the idea of wiping parts of it doesn't exactly appeal to Google, though it is now complying, as in this case.
It's worth saying though that, although in this case, it was criminal activity that prompted a request to be forgotten, that's an exception (and therefore newsworthy) rather than a rule. In 2015, Google estimated that 95 per cent of requests came from people who wanted to preserve privacy - not necessarily those seeking to hide their dodgy past. μ
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