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Introduction to Online Content Removal
Welcome to the internet content removals section of our site.
As we all know, the internet can be a power for good. But it can be a power for bad as well. Negative content can cause serious harm to people and businesses, whether in the form of reviews, blogs, posts, criticism websites or otherwise.
How do we go about removing negative information from the internet?
As internet lawyers, we often help clients remove online content. Clients ask us: “How do we delete negative information from the Internet?”. “How can we remove a news article from the Internet?” Etc.
The first step is put together a legal case for removal. Just because material is negative or damaging doesn’t automatically mean that there is a legal reason to delete it. We need to analyse the content and figure out the best legal route to take.
What kinds of legal issues are useful for online content removal?
Here are examples of the kinds of legal issues which may provide a legal basis for take-down:
- internet defamation (i.e. libel and slander)
- right to be forgotten (applies to Google and other search engines)
- malicious communications
Why do we need a strategy to delete something from the Internet?
Having a good legal argument doesn’t necessarily mean that we can magically remove the content. An key part of our work is to help our client work out a strategy to achieve removal as quickly and cheaply as possible. And, ideally, avoiding the need for court.
Who are the different “players” involved when removing online content?
When an item of content appears online, there may be a number of different “players” involved, e.g.:
- the person who wrote it
- the operator of the website (which often isn’t the same as the person who wrote the negative content, e.g. posts on social media or blog-sites)
- the host of the website
- the search engine in which the negative content may appear
In our experience, the key is to decide which kind of legal approach to which player is most likely to achieve the result we want. This will depend on a wide range of factors. Where is each player located? How strong is the legal case against each one? How have they responded to take-down notices in the past?
For example, internet service providers in the US are notoriously reluctant to remove negative content. They often claim protection / immunity under the right of free speech based on the First Amendment and the US Communications Decency Act. In those cases, it may be better to focus on players located in the UK, or at least those outside the US.
What kind of legal approach do we make?
This is an important part of the strategy. We may send any of a number of different kinds of notices or legal letters. This will depend on the kind of content and where we want it removed from.
We generally send our communications via some combination of email, post, courier or web form. Sometimes we start with a phone call.
It all depends on which we think is the most effective route to getting the content removed – based on our experience.
What kind of content removals do we handle?
The kinds of content removals which we often handle include:
- removal from Google search results and Google reviews
- removal from websites
- removal from social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter)
What about getting news articles removed from the Internet?
Newspapers are of course well clued up on the legal issues surrounding removal of Internet content. And generally they don’t like taking news articles off the web unless there is a very strong reason to. Of course there may be a good case to put to the newspaper.
But it may be more cost-effective – and equally effective – to get the article deleted from internet search results instead. Assuming, of course, that there is a legal basis to do so.
This all needs to be considered as part of the internet removal strategy.
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