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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Cumbrian man tells why he has right to be forgotten on Google

A Cumbrian man who won an online privacy battle with internet giant Google has revealed why he believes he has the ‘right to be forgotten’.

Simon Modlin photo
Simon Chapman (was Modlin)

Simon Chapman successfully applied to its UK search engine to have its links to two articles about him removed.

They had been court reports published online by the News & Star and its sister paper The Cumberland News in 2007 and 2010 when Mr Chapman – known then as Simon Modlin – admitted incidents of using threatening language or behaviour, public order offences, criminal damage and failing to answer bail.

Mr Chapman says his life is being ruined because he still faces ridicule and false accusations about committing more serious crimes from people who access outdated details online.

He claims now to be a regular churchgoer who manages several serious health issues with medication and is no longer in trouble.

“Everyone deserves a second chance in life,” the 45-year-old from Kirkby Stephen said.

“Everyone has said something in the spur of the moment, everyone has said something they regret, but why do I have to get a life sentence for that? I’m a good, kind person and I want a chance at life.

“I don’t hide my past, but I’ve lost my last three partners after they googled me. I have been diagnosed with several problems and am on medication and getting help, but I live in a small town and I have a terrible reputation.

“I really do believe I deserve a fresh start.”

He added: “I don’t have any problems with newspapers publishing things like this, things shouldn’t be erased completely, but this is having a detrimental impact on my life now.”

Mr Chapman, who cared for his mother for several years before she died in November 2012, says he is considering moving away from Kirkby Stephen.

Twelve years ago Mr Chapman was diagnosed with a brain tumour, shortly after he had gone back to school as a mature student to do A-levels to help him towards fulfilling his ambition to become a teacher.

An MRI scan revealed he had an old injury on the left side of his brain believed to have been sustained when he was involved in a car crash as a child.

He has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and sleep apnoea and takes 14 tablets a day, including medication for epilepsy.

Mr Chapman applied to Google to have its links removed after a European Court of Justice decision in May.

The court said that links to irrelevant and outdated data should be erased from searches upon request.

The judgement sparked concerns about news stories and other previously public information being hidden in what has become known as ‘the right to be forgotten’.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson, a lawyer, believes care must be taken to balance the rights of an individual for privacy and the right of society to know.

He said: “There could be cases where information should be removed but you have to be very careful.

“If you committed a crime, say, then society believes that after a certain amount of time you have a second chance but you’d want to be careful in the case of a serial criminal.”

Last month it was revealed that Google had received more than 91,000 requests to have search results blocked for 328,000 websites. More than half of all requests made to Google have been granted, including Mr Chapman’s.

The articles about Mr Chapman, published by the News & Star and its sister paper The Cumberland News, are still available on the newspapers’ websites or via a non-EU search engine like www.google.com.

Have your say

All the best Simon! Just avoid social media. Best Way! Hope things go really well for you now.

Posted by mary thornton on 22 September 2014 at 21:41

Why don't you just change your name again?

Posted by Trevor Long on 1 September 2014 at 08:35

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