What Is Google Legal Request?
A Google Legal Request is a form you fill in to have something removed from the search results.
If there are search results or content on Google (or any search engine) that violate a law, you can ask Google to review the material with the aim of removing it from their search pages.
Even if you fill out the form properly, there is no guarantee the content will be removed. Sometimes Google decides that the content in question is still in the public interest and therefore refuses to remove it. They believe that the content does not violate their policies or pose a threat to individuals or companies so they choose to keep it there.
Fear not, for there is still 1 more option available before you need to put down thousands to get a court order for removal. This is going to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and asking them to overturn Google’s decision.
So far this year (2020), googles statistics for removal of content are showing a 53.5% success rate.
This means that odds are not stacked in your favour and you should almost certainly enlist us to do the request on your behalf. You only get 1 chance for removal after which google simply states “There is already a request pending, or we have already answered your request”.
Legal removal requests can also be done for bing, yahoo and other search engines. It is best to keep in mind that their policies may be different from Google’s and you should follow their policies when submitting a legal request.
What should be taken into account is that whatever their policy is, if it does violate the Data Protection Act 2018, GDPR or any part of the Defamation Act then you have the right to request removal.
When is a legal request a good idea?
A legal request is a good idea when it falls within the following categories:
Defamation is a verbal or written statement that is non-factual which can harm the reputation of the brand / company or even some individuals. Other terms to describe this are ‘slander,’ ‘calumny,’ ‘vilification,’ ‘libel’ and ‘traducement’. In certain countries like Sweden, and India, defamation doesn’t have to be false, it could be true and still fall under the ‘defamation’ category.
In the majority of our Defamation takedown requests, we focus on the 2 main points found within the Defamation Act 2013, section 1:
- A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
- For the purposes of this section, harm to the reputation of a body that trades for profit is not “serious harm” unless it has caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.
The hard part is proving that you have been at a financial loss as some people / companies do not show their financial accounts to a search engine that showcases a drop in profits due to the false statement(s.)
99% of replies to failed takedown requests are accompanied with “this information is still within the public interest”. When this happens, we then take the matter to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) or relevant body within your country.
You can usually only do 1 legal request before future attempts are ignored so if you are looking to remove negative content from Google or any other search engine we can help you.
- Right To Be Forgotten
This law has been put into practice by the European Union. This act was set up to help support those that were convicted in the past and since then have moved on from their mistake and not have it follow them for the rest of their life 6 years after the incident.
What this means is that 6 years after any negative information about yourself or a person has gone public on the internet you have the right to have information regarding it to be removed from Google search results, domains and any other search engine out there.
Although that sounds simple enough, it can be proven that only 53% of submissions to Google have been successful under the Right To Be Forgotten Act. What this means is that the other 47% of submissions had been declined. To start, Google believes that most internet content should remain as being in the public interest.
Google would point out that it doesn’t produce the content that is on the internet, it just aggregates what’s there to show as results for your search terms and any relevant key terms / descriptions that go towards the search results.
You can usually only do 1 legal request before future attempts are denied so if you are looking to remove negative content from Google or any other search engine, we can in the meantime help at least drop the negative results from page one on to page 2 depending on the results. We do this through reputation management and create fresh positive content to replace the negatives on page one where 92% of people only look at when searching and not go onto page 2. Look at our Reputation Management page for more info.
- Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act
This is a UK law, but it may not rule your country out because your country may have its own ICO that covers the UK law. The ‘Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act’ is a law that allows criminal convictions to be ignored after the ‘Rehabilitation’ period. You can apply for an ROOA legal request 7 years after a sentence is served. For example, if you were convicted in 2001 and served 5 years in prison, the 7 years would be up in 2013.
You can usually only do 1 legal request before future attempts are denied so if you are looking to remove negative content from Google or any other search engine, let us help you.
- Copyright Infringement
Copyright Infringement (also known as piracy) is where material is used without permission for a when permission is needed, giving exclusive rights to the copyright holder to distribute and display the protected work.
Copyright Infringement disputes are typically resolved through a noticeable ‘Take Down’ request process. If the person who used the content believes it to be under the ‘Fair Use Act,’ they can fight this process.
An example is through YouTube videos. If a user either directly reuploads a song for example onto YouTube with no written permission, the content would fall under Infringement and the ‘take down’ process can begin. If the content had written permission, this would be a false claim, and the ‘take down’ would be reverted. In some cases, holders don’t mind content being re-uploaded, as long as they get the majority of the cut of the revenue. Some holders don’t mind them being used as long as credit is given whereas some don’t mind at all.
We would perform the necessary copyright requests on your behalf, citing all relevant laws to help get the content removed. If someone has had yours removed even though you own the copyright to it, we can contact the relevant websites on your behalf to have copyrighted products reinstated. If you require these above, let us help you.
- Trademark Infringement
Trademark infringement is where the exclusivity of rights attached to someone’s name / company name, image / logo or product is used without the authorisation of the trademark owner (or any licenses) is violated.
To give an example, infringement can happen when the ‘infringer’ uses a trademark which is almost identical / similar related to its products / services to the trademark owner for another.
If this was the case, we would help by acting upon the necessary actions by going through the laws related to this subject and perform the necessary actions to resolve the issue. If you are having trouble with trademark infringement to keep your company / brand keeping its original identity, let us help you.
How Long Does A Legal Request Take?
The legal requests can vary, but the ICO states that ‘they must comply within one month of the request / receipt’ of any of these; any requested information to confirm the request, any information to confirm the requestor’s identity and a fee (but only in some circumstances).
For example, if you start a request on August 7th, they have until September 7th to comply with the request, typically. Though, If this lands on a bank holiday, they will have until the next working day to respond. The time for a response can be extended if the response is complex or a number of requests have been sent their way at the same time. If this was the case, the ICO would contact you to let you know that the extension would be taking place.
What Information Do I Need To Provide For A Legal Request?
The information that would be required would be:
- A proof of ID with eligible documents to prove your identity
- The name or words used in the search field for the content to appear in
- The URL of the content that you would like removing
- The reason as to why you want it removed and what rights you believe it goes against such as Right To Be Forgotten Act or a breach of the GDPR policy etc
- And finally a signature.
Under What Circumstances Does A Request Get Denied?
There are multiple reasons why the requests could have been taken down / denied. It can be shut down if: it would cost too much, or take way too much time for staff to deal with the request, if the request is spammed / vexatious, the requests is the same as the previous person, identity could not be confirmed / not enough proof, invalid request, abusive / threatening wording etc. If a request is refused or declined, the ICO would give a written denied notice.
As mentioned before, 47% of the requests sent tend to be declined so you could happen to have to send a number of requests till it is accepted. If that is the case, we are more than happy to help you to the best of our abilities to change the outcome. If that is not possible we can dedicate our time to drop the negatives and bring in fresh positive content that 92% of people would read and then stop searching.