Safeguarding, Privacy and Respect for Children and Young People (Part 5)

As you know we’ve been working on stopping the courts from granting greater access for the media to the family courts, if you are not sure what has happened so far just look back at my earlier posts.

So this time we had the opportunity to address the Association of Lawyers for Children at their Annual Conference, this is a collection of amazing minds who work to better the lives of children and young people including a cross section of judges, solicitors and barristers; and I have to say there were a number of faces I recognised from working with NYAS in the past.

We gave an over view of our findings from the consultation, ultimately What the hell were you thinking?! If you pardon the paraphrasing. I chose to describe the balance of articles 8 [right to a private and family life] and 10 [freedom of expression and information], it was such a daunting prospect to be lecturing on the law to professionals in the field although I did put in a dig about the English lacking behind on implementing the UNCRC.

Following us vocalising all of our concerns around greater access it was time for me to shine as a digital technologies consultant:

I began by highlighting the attempts various governments have taken to remove WikiLeaks and the fact that Julian Assange is still living in exile with all of his articles intact. A second website I felt it was important to discuss was that of SilkRoad [an illegal online marketplace], and that we actually only access about 10% of the internet whilst the rest is known as the dark web, now SilkRoad was removed by authorities and 2.0 emerged just weeks later highlighting that information can be transferred and re-uploaded without much hassle. The third website I discussed was that of No-IP.com, twenty three of their domains were seized by Microsoft [affecting 1.8 million websites and devices] for infecting visitors devices with various malware, these domains have since been returned with no real safeguards from the situation repeating itself.

With technology it is important to know where advances are being made, with DNS providers now providing switching for free it is easier to host websites. When a server is taken out the service will now switch servers so that the website is not down for a noticeable amount of time. A lot of the time when a website is taken out by an organisation they take out the DNS (Domain Name System) meaning that the server and all of its information is still accessible if another domain is pointing to it.

After discussing the technological implications of websites it is now important to look at the changes to technology regarding Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González. Since the decision Google has received 167,865 take down requests concerning 569,993 URLs, out of this only 199,263 (41.8%) of URLs were removed; out of these the UK alone has submitted 21,679 requests concerning 74,137 URLs out of which only 22,538 (37%) of URLs were removed.

Here are a few reasons people requested take downs from the UK:

A media professional requested that we remove 4 links to articles reporting on embarrassing content he posted to the Internet. We did not remove the pages from search results.

An individual asked us to remove links to articles on the internet that reference his dismissal for sexual crimes committed on the job. We did not remove the pages from search results.

A doctor requested we remove more than 50 links to newspaper articles about a botched procedure. Three pages that contained personal information about the doctor but did not mention the procedure have been removed from search results for his name. The rest of the links to reports on the incident remain in search results.

A public official asked us to remove a link to a student organization’s petition demanding his removal. We did not remove the page from search results.

We received a request from a former clergyman to remove 2 links to articles covering an investigation of sexual abuse accusations while in his professional capacity. We did not remove the pages from search results.

Some of the information which was removed, was only removed from search results on Google and is still searchable from other search engines and the websites on which they were posted; there is also nothing stopping more links from emerging at a later date, or even the contend from a removed link from being re-posted at another address.

The difference with Google’s removals is that it is links from their own services and the content is still out there and very much available through other services. Out of the above reasons you will see that one is actually for the removal to a link containing information they themselves had posted, this is information they lost control over and was not able to remove so instead they tried to request that it was less searchable.

We will be meeting with the President of the Family Court Division again in December to discuss the developments since our last meeting and where things will progress in he future. As usual keep an eye out for the next installment.

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