The European Union set a precedent on privacy laws in 2014 with the creation of “the right to be forgotten”. This law has since allowed people living in the European Union states to seek the removal of search results from Google that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” The system does not result in the URL removal of the actual content, but rather makes it more difficult to find since more and more people are using search engines to locate information online.

While there are no immediate plans to enact “the right to be forgotten” in Canada, a 2017 Federal Court of Canada ruling has reignited the debate for them. The landmark decision has paved the way for courts to request the removal of certain results from Google and other search engines.

The case – A.T. v. Globe24H.com – involves a Romanian-based website that published (and plagiarized) thousands of Canadian judicial and tribunal decisions, made them searchable on search engines (i.e. Google) and demanded fees for the removal of names (NOT decisions). The decisions are all public documents and available through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), a website maintained by the legal profession in support of open access to legal materials.

Since most decisions on CanLII are not indexed in Google and other search engines, their availability is not widely known. Globe24H.com opened its database to Google, leading to the discovery of the information by the public, including friends, employers, and colleagues of the victim. When users contacted the website, they were told that a “free” removal service could take six months or more. If they paid 13 euros, the content would be deleted within days. Globe24h.com required information mailed to them, including copies of passports and proof of residency.

The website is now defunct. However, it is not the only website on the World Wide Web that publishes slanderous and defamatory stories about various citizens and indexes them on major search engines. PissedConsumer.com, RipoffReport.com, and ComplaintsBoard.com are just of three the websites that monopolizes on consumer complaints and their desire to share their horror stories online with the entire world. Without a doubt websites with any publicity can be detrimental to your career and/or business.

Until a formal law is passed, Canadians wishing to get Google to remove the unwanted results will have to present a strong case. Search engines will only in rare circumstances remove results without court documents, such as when physical threats are made, messages that involve hate crime, and cases of bullying is involved. In the rare instances that Google did agree to remove unwanted results, they only removed the meta description and parts of meta title tags that were harmful.

Online Reputation Management Solutions

When it comes to online reputation management (ORM), there is no silver bullet for how long the process takes and what steps will lead you towards success quicker. It depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Whether or not you have hired a professional ORM company to handle the work for you or plan on doing it yourself.
  • How much damage has to be cleaned up.
  • Where the damage is.
  • How the search engine algorithms are working to rank material.

Quick Tips That Help Push Down Damaging Google Results

Though there are many variables into how long the process takes, here is what you can be doing right now:

  • Make your social media channels visible to search engines
  • Get writing! Start 1 or more blogs and regularly publish posts to bump the negativity down
  • Generate positive newsworthy information about yourself and your company and contact reporters with story pitches
  • Participate in forum discussions relevant to your industry

Contact an Online Reputation Management Agency

We are not saying that that Online Reputation Management cannot be done on your own. The fact of the matter is most people do not have access to industry tools that agencies specializing in ORM do. Depending on the extent of the online damage, it may be best to discuss the particular situation with ORM experts who have the time, the expertise, and the resources.

iRISEmedia | Online Reputation Management Agency | Toronto

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto based Digital Marketing Agency specializing in social media management, digital marketing, online reputation management and online branding. Our team helps clients manage and grow their online presence and branding to increase qualified web traffic and online leads. We service clients in Toronto and throughout Canada and the U.S. Contact our Online Reputation Management division for a free quote and analysis.