A convicted German murderer won the right to have all mention of his crime scrubbed from internet search results under 'right to be forgotten' laws

November 29, 2019 0 By NIKESHOE

AP

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  • A double murderer has the right for all mention of his crime to be deleted from internet search results, Germany’s highest court has ruled.

  • The ex-soldier was sentenced to life in prison in 1982 for shooting two people on a yacht in 1981. He was freed in 2002, and launched a legal bid to be forgotten in 2009.

  • The man argued that three Der Spiegel magazine articles from the 1980s archived online, which name him as the murderer, are a “violation of his privacy rights” and his “ability to develop his personality” in his new life. 

  • His case was dismissed by a federal court in 2012, but the constitutional court in Karlsruhe overruled the court, saying on November 6 he has the right to be forgotten.

  • The court said the EU’s “right to erasure” (right to be forgotten) provision was stronger than the verdict of the federal court.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A convicted murdered in Germany has the right to get all mention of his crime deleted from internet search results under the EU’s “right to be forgotten” provision, Germany’s highest court has ruled.

The man was sentenced to life in jail in 1982 for murdering two people in 1981, and has tried to get three Der Spiegel news articles naming him as a murderer to be removed from search results since 2009.

A constitutional court in Karlsruhe ruled on November 6 that he has that right, overruling the German federal court which threw out his case in 2012.

The court said the EU’s “right to erasure” (right to be forgotten) provision was stronger than the verdict of the federal court.

The man was freed from jail in 2002, and launched a legal challenge when he saw that news stories about his crime were freely available in the magazine’s online archive.

The stories detail how the man, an ex-soldier, was jailed for shooting dead two men and seriously injuring another after a row broke out onboard the yacht “Apollonia” while it sailed from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in December 1981.

Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

The man claims the existence of the news stories are a “violation of his privacy rights” and his “ability to develop his personality,” court records show. They add that the man “now lives in an environment which knows nothing about his offenses long ago.”

The man’s case was initially thrown out by the German federal court in November 2012, which cited public interest and press freedom, but he appealed.

The constitutional court said in an announcement on Wednesday that the “contested decision must be set aside and the case remitted.”

The case will now return to the federal courts.

As Insider’s Mary Hanbury previously reported the “right to be forgotten” is the idea that private citizens can ask companies or websites to take down certain material about them that is considered to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive.”

The idea rose to prominence in 2014 when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that individuals have the right to ask search engines, such as Google, to delist certain results about them.

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