Spring into Action

It looks like the dark days of winter and lockdown are receding. Now is the time to spring into action and repair you online reputation. If you suffer from negative or harmful stories about you when your name is searched, you will know that it can affect your life both professionally and personally. It can affect your chances of getting a mortgage, a new job or meeting new friends. This is because people routinely “Google” one another to find out more about them. If you want to repair your reputation in time for Spring, then get in touch with us at info@mycleanslate.co.uk or hit the contact tab and leave your number if you want to talk about what we can offer.

Route Map out of Lockdown

Now we have heard the government’s plans to move us all out of lockdown, it is a good time to think about the future and check out your online reputation.

Many people who have had time on their hands over the past year have thought about their future and whether they want to move in a different direction, even if that just means meeting people online or finding another job. This could be difficult if you have a bad online reputation.  If you had made mistakes in the past or been the subject of online bullying, these things remain on search engines forever which makes finding a job, getting insurance, buying a house or meeting new people difficult.

We can help remove negative and harmful links or about you for a small flat fee. Check out more on www.mycleanslate.co.uk If you would like a chat about the services we offer, leave a number that we can call you on under the Contact tab.

Time on your hands?

If you’re at a loose end during this lockdown, you should do something positive and tackle your online reputation. Like it or not, search engines hold lots of personal information about you that can be easily searched. Most of this is innocuous, but some of it can be harmful and hold you back.  Many employers, mortgage companies and others routinely check people out online to see if they should make an offer. We even know of people with a poor online reputation being refused rental accommodation. So, whether you have been the victim of online bullying, have personal information you do not want others to see, or even have a spent conviction, we can help.  For a small, fixed fee we can fight on your behalf to get harmful material removed from search engines and help clean up your online reputation.  You can find more at www.mycleanslate.co.uk or email us for more details at info@mycleanslate.co.uk 


Crunch Decision for Apple

News that Apple is making a search engine to rival Google – which currently has more than 86 per cent of the UK search market – makes us wonder if they will adhere to the GDPR thereby respecting people’s privacy. We have seen that Google have a cavalier attitude to privacy rights, and fight hard to keep out-dated, irrelevant and inaccurate URLs on their search engine. We have to ask the Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) to rule far too often that these URLs breach data protection rules and should be removed.

The reason that Google are so slack about adhering to data protection laws is that it is easier and cheaper to keep the status quo than make positive changes. Let’s be clear, Google is a great tool for researching facts and information, but it also provides links to information that may be malicious, inaccurate and out-dated. This information – and mis-information – can make people’s lives and livelihoods harder and more miserable.

For example, prospective employers often use Google to search background details about a job seeker’s character, and the contents may tilt a decision against someone on no more than the thought that “this looks like too much trouble” or “there’s no smoke without fire”. Unhelpful URLs can ruin people’s job prospects particularly if they have committed a crime or other misdemeanour years ago. The same goes for people who are seeking insurance, want to buy a house, open a bank account or go to college.

Google’s favourite excuse for allowing this to continue is that information is in the public interest. Yet it is parliament, not Google, that determines the public interest, and parliament passed the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act nearly 50 years ago to allow those with a spent sentence to be able to live their lives as though they had never committed an offence. This, our elected representatives believe, is in the public interest because it allows people who have made mistakes in the past to re-join society and make a positive contribution. This is often made impossible by Google searches that constantly bring up outdated URLs.

Google’s real interest is not the public interest, but their own bottom line. Let’s hope that if Apple develops a search engine, they will adopt a more responsible attitude than their would-be rival. The competition will be interesting.

Google and the Right to be Forgotten

When dealing with Google, it is good to bear in mind that the Google right to erasure policy is both erratic and random.  The Google Right to be Forgotten seems to depend on the individual who is dealing with a request and whether they have had a good or bad day. There have been a number of odd – indeed, downright inconsistent decisions over the past six months which illustrate the problem. Learning on the job does not quite capture it. Continue reading

The Right to a Second Chance

The new right to be forgotten was enshrined in law last week, but it will have passed a lot of people by. Many will not know – or care – about their online profile, but for others the right to erasure is vital to their future.

Who Cares?

People who may have committed a crime a few years ago now find that it is the only thing they are known for. It effectively defines their life. This will have an impact on their chances of getting a job or building a business. They will find it harder to get a loan, a mortgage or insurance. It will also, inevitably, have an impact on their personal well-being, their family and social life.

It is a sobering thought that millions of individuals in the UK have had a criminal conviction at some point in their life. Home Office research has shown that nearly a third of men, and 10% of women, reaching the age of 60 have a non-motoring criminal conviction.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was designed to enable some with a criminal conviction to consider their sentence spent after a certain amount of years.  The Act does not allow rehabilitation for those that commit grave offences, such as serious violence or sexual crimes. Custodial sentences over four years are never spent.  But for a vast majority, the 1974 Act was designed to allow former offenders to start afresh without having to mention a conviction when applying for jobs or other everyday things like loans or insurance. The effect of rehabilitation was as if the conviction never happened.

What’s Changed?

This worked well in the days before the internet, but more recently those with spent convictions have found that, if a future employer, insurance company or new friends searched their name on Google, any news report about their conviction was revealed, thus putting them at a continuing disadvantage despite the law.

Right to be Forgotten

For this reason, the cases of NT1 & NT2 v Google LLC (right to be forgotten) are important. For the first time, the Court ruled that in certain circumstances an ex-offender would be able to ask Google to delist or erase references to their conviction from the search engine. While the individual who was referred to as NT2 was granted the right to be forgotten, NT1 lost his case. The fact that NT2 pleaded guilty to his offence, received a 6 months sentence and showed genuine remorse worked in his favour.  NT1, however, received a four year sentence (just before the cut off point for rehabilitation) and pleaded not guilty. The Court held that he showed no remorse, and the judge took a dim view of his character.  Google has accepted the NT1 judgment, but NT2 is appealing the verdict.

Good News for Lawyers?

So, will law firms see a sudden influx of ex-offenders seeking the right to be forgotten? Perhaps.  This may well be the best route for some, but many are fearful of taking on lawyers because it’s usually a very expensive business. Just the preliminary steps – contacting Google and the Information Commissioner – can cost several thousand pounds. If the claim goes to court, there are court fees, disbursements and After the Event (ATE) insurance costs, even if the claimant has a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

My Clean Slate

Other potential claimants and criminal lawyers are turning to alternative service providers (such as My Clean Slate) to contact Google and other search engines and, if necessary, the ICO. There are low overheads for this kind of service and so they are able to offer much lower set fees that include expenses.

Your Online Reputation – Spent Convictions

For anyone who cares about their online reputation – especially those with spent convictions – the right to be forgotten is good news. And, some might say, it’s about time too. Punishment was never meant to be never-ending or disproportionate. The effect of the judgments and the right to be forgotten will be to reinstate the effect of the old law, and update it for the internet age.

This post also appears on https://inforrm.org The International Forum for Responsible Media









Welcome to this brand new website offering a brand new service – helping people with spent convictions start over with a clean slate.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

For decades, many people who committed a crime several years ago have had the right not to declare it when applying things like a job or insurance.  This is because the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 says a sentence becomes “spent” after a certain amount of time, thereby helping people start afresh.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: Google and GDPR

Amongst other things, the Act sets out in a table the period of time for sentences to become spent – or rehabilitated. It takes in everything from a fine to time spent in prison. But there is a cut-off point: a sentence of over four years can never be spent.

It describes the effect of rehabilitation as “a person who has become a rehabilitated personin respect of a conviction shall be treated for all purposes in law as a person who has not committed or been charged with or prosecuted for or convicted of or sentenced for the offence or offences which were the subject of that conviction.”  In other words, after a sentence is spent, it should be treated as if it never happened.

This is good news and many people with convictions have been able to move on.

The Google Effect

There is a limit to the effect of the 1974 Act, however, because search engines, such as Google, still hold details of people’s convictions especially if they have appeared in the media.  This means that employers and others in authority have been able to google someone and see information about their past criminal conviction and wonder whether they can be trusted.

This has affected millions of people and some have tried, unsuccessfully, to get Google to remove details of their convictions from any search on their name.

The Right to be Forgotten

You may have heard of The Right to be Forgotten which first hit the headlines in May 2014.  It stems from a case that started 16 years ago when a Spanish man, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, hit financial difficulties and had to put his property up for auction. This was covered by a local newspaper which was also online.  The auction sorted out Mr Gonzalez’s troubles and he wanted to move on with his life. The problem was that, when anybody searched his name, the details of his previous financial woes came to light.  He took an action against Google Spain and the case eventually reached the EU’s Court of Justice which ruled that the search results damaged his reputation and he had a right to be forgotten.

Google and GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation)

There is a new piece of legislation about to hit the statute books that will enshrine the Right to be Forgotten – also known as the Right to Erasure – in law.  The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) sounds boring but, in fact, helps redress the power over your personal data.  Article 17 entitles the “data subject” (you and me) to have the “data controller” (Google, Facebook and any other organisation that holds your personal information) erase his/her personal data. The conditions for erasure include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject withdrawing consent.

The High Court

Recently the Right to be Forgotten came before the High Court. The Court ruled that Google had to remove details of an individual’s crime from its search results after a case brought by two men who each had a spent conviction.

We think this is a great decision and it inspired us to launch this service.  We want to help people to get Google to remove details of their criminal convictions so they can start again with a clean slate!