Collateral Consequences and the English “Right to Be Forgotten”

Christine Braamskamp and Peter B. Pope

Earlier this year, the English High Court issued a judgment that is astonishing to American eyes. The Court ruled that an ex-offender had a right to have links to accurate information about his criminal conviction and sentence removed from search engine results when his name was searched. In doing so, the Court wrote about the policy under English law of an offender being deemed “rehabilitated” and having the conviction considered “spent”—no consequences any longer stemming from it. The spent nature of the conviction then became one of the pillars of a decision that the ex-offender had a “right to be forgotten.”

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