Getting Google to forget his past not easy for Mr. ABC

  • A mystery entrepreneur with a criminal past failed to get Google to remove links to a blog post about his old conviction after he refused to disclose his name to the search-engine giant or a London judge.

    A mystery entrepreneur with a criminal past failed to get Google to remove links to a blog post about his old conviction after he refused to disclose his name to the search-engine giant or a London judge. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

 
 
Posted11/16/2019 6:00 AM

A mystery entrepreneur with a criminal past failed to get Google to remove links to a blog post about his old conviction after he refused to disclose his name to the search-engine giant or a London judge.

The man, known only as Mr. ABC, sought an injunction and damages from the U.S. tech giant for causing serious harm to his reputation, defamation and breaching data-processing laws after it kept search links to the article.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This is an extraordinary case in that the identity of Mr. ABC remains unknown to both the Defendant and the Court," Judge Pushpinder Saini said in his ruling. "It is obvious that basic common law fair trial requirements require a defendant to know who it is being sued by."

Google must remove information about a person on request if it's outdated or irrelevant under a 2014 European Union top court ruling. The original EU court ruling, however, failed to outline clear terms for when the search engine should remove information. In the first cases following the EU judgment, U.K. courts said that the reputations of those tarnished by old news stories about improper conduct trumped the public's need to know.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Little is still known about Mr. ABC. He describes himself as a businessman who creates venture investment opportunities through equity offerings. The blog post, uploaded in 2014, has prevented him from pursuing business which has led to substantial losses, he said.

While the crime wasn't disclosed, he completed his conviction in July 2016, he told the court in written submissions.

Judge Saini will consider an order against ABC if Google applies for one, he said.

--With assistance from Eddie Spence.

(c) 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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