Google has notified The Irish Times that it has removed a number of search terms with the result that at least a dozen articles and images, all relating to the former billionaire businessman Seán Quinn and his family, will no longer be available under those search terms.
Publishers such as The Irish Times are not notified about the specific search terms that Google delists, only the articles which are impacted.
The consequence of the delisting is that articles which previously would have displayed on Google under certain search terms no longer will and therefore become harder to find.
However, they remain available on Google if other search terms are used and are also in The Irish Times archive.
A list of Irish Times articles impacted by this delisting is provided below.
Why can search terms be delisted?
Unlike traditional forms of media (print and broadcast) that in nature tend to be ephemeral, the internet never forgets and what is published online tends to stay there forever.
Given the nature of search engines this means something published online a long time ago is just as easily found now as something published yesterday.
What is the Right to be Forgotten (RTBF) law?
RTBF is a right in European law that intends to allow personal information about someone to be removed from internet search results, under certain circumstances.
The underlying principle is that after a certain period of time information about a private individual should no longer be relevant about that person, and thus it would generally be considered unfair for this information to still be available, and in particular, prominently displayed in search results.
How does the law work?
Any person can make an application to a search engine such as Google for specific articles and/or images to be delisted from search results against their name.
They need to provide the links to the articles/images, provide the search terms, and set out the reasons why these articles should be removed.
What happens then?
If a search engine decides to uphold the request, they will remove the articles from search results against a person(s)’s name.
They will also notify the publisher that they have removed the article(s) from their index against certain search terms. However they will not tell publishers what the search terms are nor who the applicant is.
Can publishers appeal what is removed from a search engine’s index?
No. However, a delisting only applies to certain search results via Google. Delisted articles remain available on Google if other search terms used and can also be found on the publisher’s website under all relevant search terms.
What has Google delisted that impacts The Irish Times?
Google has delisted a number of search terms which, when used on Google, brought up a number of Irish Times articles and images about Seán Quinn and his family.
As a result of the delisting when these search terms are entered in Google, these Irish Times articles will no longer be part of the results.
The Irish Times articles below are among those impacted by the delisting.
IBRC unravels web around Seán Quinn family's assets in India – March 2018
Family of Seán Quinn seek lifting of bank-account freezing orders – April 2013
IBRC seeks details on Quinns' involvement with QuinnBet – November 2017
€5m offer for any claim by Quinns – March 2013
Court finds 'substandard' Quinn disclosure in IBRC case – July 2013
IBRC calls on court to address Quinn family position on paper trail – March 2013
Quinn case: There was nothing 'normal' about this litigation saga – April 2019
Quinns cite contempt threat for silence on details of finances – February 2013
Judge reserves decision on payment of Quinn family expenses – June 2016
Quinn Finance settles case against McPartland – January 2014
Quinns take big gamble as online betting comes under pressure – August 2017
Aoife Quinn tells court she spent almost all of €370,000 salary – January 2013
'Almost certain' Sean Quinn family behind €10m asset-stripping of company, says judge – March 2018
Quinn family living expenses must be paid from frozen accounts, court rules– June 2016