Chadlington slams 'right to be forgotten' ruling as "unbelievable and strange"

People should be very careful about claiming the 'right to be forgotten' and asking search engines to edit their internet history, according to Huntsworth chief executive Lord Chadlington.

Lord Chadlington: Echoed concerns raised by CIPR president Stephen Waddington
Lord Chadlington: Echoed concerns raised by CIPR president Stephen Waddington

"I wouldn’t advise a client to do it and we’ve never done it," said Chadlington, who was also referring to the practice of editing Wikipedia entries on behalf of clients.

"But the point is now very different. The point is that it is actually being encouraged, legally encouraged, so we can’t say to anybody you shouldn’t do this.

"It's unbelievable. We have to abide by the law but I do think this is a particularly strange one. This isn’t getting things removed that are wrong but getting things removed that are right."

Last week the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled against Google and decided search engines must remove information deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" or face a fine. Google does not have the right to appeal.

Chadlington said if a client asked him to handle a request to remove links to articles about them from search engines he was likely to refer them directly to the search engines rather than handle it himself.

People should think carefully before making such requests, he cautioned.

"I would say to them ‘just be a bit careful because if you redact things that you actually did and you’ve been found at fault, and they only come out under enquiry, it does make it look as if you are not that honest’."

The PR veteran was speaking to PRWeek following criticism of the European Court’s ruling by CIPR president Stephen Waddington, who said it would set the financial interests of the PR industry against notions of democracy.

Chadlington did not go quite as far as this, but said he did believe it set PR against society. He also raised concerns about its effect on Huntsworth as an employer.

"Particularly in areas like employing people I think you do need to have proper access to information. If an accountant had embezzled something and he wanted it removed from his Google results… This whole thing feels very strange to me."

Agencies within Huntsworth work for Google, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of the search market in Europe.

Chadlington also has a daughter who works for Google, but he stressed she does not talk to him about the company.

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