Case study – Stephanie – Having failed to get Google to remove links to my name an application to the ICO proved more successful

Stephanie contacted our helpline after Google refused to removed links to her name online.

She explained that although her conviction was now spent the existence of the information online meant that she was still unable to put her past mistakes behind her. Despite not having to disclose her conviction to an employer, many would carry out online searches and would read the media articles which did not reflect all the facts of the case. In the past three months she had applied for dozens of jobs and was either told that her application had been unsuccessful or she received no response at all.

After neighbours refused to speak to her after reading the articles online, Stephanie stated that she was now loath to start meeting new people and was becoming increasingly more isolated.

Stephanie had applied to Google to have the links to her name removed but this had been refused due to the “substantial interest to the public”. She finished by saying:

“I’ve reached rock bottom and I feel suicidal. I spend everyday worrying about the online information and having people judge me”. 

The helpline advisor suggested that the next step for Stephanie would be to raise her concerns with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and provided her with some tips on what she should include in her letter to them.

Several weeks later Stephanie got back in touch:

“I’ve just heard back from the ICO who do not believe that the information online is in the public interest. They have contacted Google requesting that the links now be removed.”


As this case demonstrates just because Google refuse to remove links it is worth raising a concern with the ICO. You will be able to explain more fully the reasons why you do not believe the information to be relevant and why the links to it should be removed.


Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

Published September 2021.

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