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'Right to be forgotten' shoplifter loses privacy complaint

A man who had search links about a shoplifting conviction removed by Google has had his complaint that newspaper coverage of the story was a breach of his privacy rejected.

Robert Daniels-Dwyer was successful in his "right to be forgotten" request and Google agreed to remove results about his 2006 conviction for stealing £200 worth of items from Boots.

However, news of the links' removal was reported by his local paper, The Oxford Mail, and the story was later picked up by three other newspapers including the Guardian.

Daniels-Dwyer complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) arguing that the newspapers had breached his privacy by publishing a story, which the European Court of Justice had ruled should be removed from Google searches and that other Google search removals had not received the level of publicity his had done.

The PCC rejected the complaint ruling that the right to be forgotten related only to internet search engine operators not media organisations. The ruling also said that the principle of open justice applied to reporting of the complainant’s conviction.

A Google search for Robert Daniel-Dyers confirms that the original article does not appear. The first result now is an Oxford Mail piece about the removal of its article on his shoplifting conviction.

Daniel-Dyers' case appears to be another example of the the “Streisand effect” where attempting to hide information has led to it being publicised more widely.

The phenomenon is named after singer Barbera Streisand, who in 2003 sued a website to have a picture of her home removed. The photograph, which had only been downloaded six times before the lawsuit was viewed by 420,000 people in the following month alone.