Should you use a reputation defender company or specialist lawyers
The desire to remove personal information from internet search engines, accounts, images, news and every area of the internet is often linked to harassment. You might want to remove personal information from the internet for different reasons. The most common reasons for wanting to remove personal information from the internet is that one way or another, you might feel that the personal information on the internet is being used or could be used to harass you. There are various options for removal of personal information from the internet and some are more effective than others, particularly if you are looking for a long-term solution.
So, what if you find yourself in the extremely stressful situation as a target of online harassment and have found your name, image or video splashed all over the internet in a derogatory way. You need a clean up online and to have it all removed as fast as possible, whilst dealing with the extreme stress and anxiety, before anyone sees it or to minimise any ongoing reputational damage.
So, you do a search online and you see a 'clean up online company' that promises to 'remove your personal information online' for just a hundred dollars per term on a subscription. So you click join up, pay the fee, sit back and wait to see it all removed and hope that it reduces some anxiety because if you have your name splashed all over the internet, we know how the impact is affecting you.
If a quick, surface clean up online is what you seek, these companies are promising to do just that. However, quick clean ups do not stop the criminal activity of harassment or the new publication of private information about you.
Online clean up companies who often describe themselves as reputation defenders, have no magic wand, despite what they might tell you. Quick clean up online companies are unable to provide comprehensive, long term solutions for the publication of unwanted personal information on the internet. Often they will send threatening letters to website operators, which could very easily result in a terrible backlash.
On other occasions they will spam the internet with dozens of online articles and fake social media accounts to try and remove web pages which contain your personal information from the first page of Google searches. This method is often expensive and short-lived because Google, over time, will be able to identify the purpose for which the articles had been published and the fake online accounts created. Google will then delist those articles and social media accounts and before you realise it you will be back to square one.
The right lawyer can help you clean up the internet and remove private information. Usually there has to be a legal ground and the law is not always clear about the criteria or the circumstances where, either website operators or search engines, must remove your private information or links to it from the internet.
A solution which is supported by a solicitor will often have a long term effect and in many cases will result in the permanent removal of your private information from the internet and even in preventing future similar publications.
Online harassment is not just a quick clean up online to remove your personal information. Harassment and privacy law legal remedies could be very powerful if used correctly.
We have developed a simple test to help you decide whether your need to clean up personal information from the internet will be better served by a law firm working for you or by a reputation defender or a reputation management company.
Before making a decision, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you want to stop the perpetrator of harassment that is trying to control or bully you
If there is someone out there who is posting private information about you on the internet, do you want to be able to stop them and prevent them, or at least deter them from posting your private information again in the future.
After removing personal information from the Internet, is it likely to be republished
Do you need a one off job or are there concerns there that there will be a repeat of the publication. In which case, you are likely to find yourself back to square one very quickly.
Would they be able to remove images and videos forever
Images and videos are notoriously difficult to remove from the internet because there could be traces of them on many different websites. You will need to decide whether you just want them to not be found on Google searches or whether you want to remove images and videos from the internet on a permanent basis.
Are you likely to require an ongoing management of your reputation
Do you believe that all that will be required is a one-off removal of personal information from the internet or do you suspect that there might be a long term need for you to benefit from a good relationship and ongoing support if and when you need it, without having to pay a monthly subscription.
Do you feel that you might need robust solutions such as potentially taking the case to court
Consider the impact of the publisher of the private information knowing that you might bring a claim for defamation, harassment, malicious falsehood, breach of privacy, misuse of private information, breach of copyright or data protection breaches.
Does the publication of private information involve impersonation online
If the publication of private information involves impersonation online, how would you be able to stop the impersonator from keep on coming back. What steps do you believe you need to help you get rid of your impersonator for once and for all.
Would you need to take out an injunction against the search engines or the publisher of the private information
Harassment injunctions and injunctions to prevent misuse of private information are very powerful tools that will help you achieve long term solutions to any unwanted publication of personal information on the internet. You will need an experienced lawyer to help you get one of those.
Is it likely that the solution offered will remove the fear and the anxiety that you are experiencing
The question you need to ask yourself is how much confidence do you have that the solution offered to you by the reputation defender company or by your lawyer, will eventually bring you peace of mind. Remember, it is all about peace of mind.
Are there issues of isolation and blacklisting involved
Find out if your name has been blacklisted because of spamming or fraudulent activities or even because someone is publishing private information about you which relate to a criminal offence that you might have committed many years ago. The information might have been already registered with credit agencies. Would you want the credit agencies to delete that information from their record.
Do you wish to be able to locate the suspect's identity through websites, platforms and IP addresses
If you want to trace someone who you believe is publishing private information about you on the internet, you will need to bear in mind that there could be legal implications to the way you have traced them.
Are you looking for a legally-binding assurance that the publications will not recur
Legally-binding assurances may include court orders but also legally binding promises and undertakings, which are a common feature in English law. These will need to be negotiated and drafted properly.
Do you need to remove links and loops to your name on the internet
Links and loops to your name could present some complications to your attempt to remove personal information from the internet. Google gets confused with links and loops and could continue to link to the private information even after it has delisted those pages from search results.
Are you just looking for a quick, temporary, quick, surface solution
If you are looking for a very fast resolution, a cease and desist letter could work just fine, provided it comes from someone with the right authority. Otherwise, it could be laughed at and do little to help your case.
Is publishing of private information the only way you are being harassed
For example, are you receiving anonymous phone calls, a feeling of being 'watched' or having anything physical happening.
Will there be anyone real for you to talk to and give you ongoing advice based on experience and common sense
If you call your service provider, whether a reputation defender company or your solicitor, are you likely to have the phone answered, and if so, what time zone are they on. Will they give you the confidence you need.
Are there issues of copyrights, images or videos that could be addressed
Will you be able to get around otherwise complicated legal issues, by using copyright and trademark laws on top of the laws of harassment and the misuse of private information.
Do you want to claim for damages or for your costs
Would you want to claim back the cost you paid to have the information removed from the internet or receive damages for your suffering as a result of the publication of your personal information.
Are you looking for long term relationship with your service provider
Will the service provider - a reputation defender company or your internet law solicitor, be there when you need to talk to someone about more offensive material that has appeared or about anything that you are experiencing that is related to the harassment.
Ask yourself those questions before parting with your money to a clean up online company that will just do as they say and clean up the internet of your name. Unfortunately, not dealing with it legally may not help you sleep at night, because online harassment is more than just cleaning up the internet of your name, as many of our clients know.
Call Cohen Davis for long term, harassment legal remedies, as well as a clean up online. A stress reducing, confidential consultation with a real live internet lawyer about your serious issue today will probably save you money and will most definitely save you continued anxiety and harassment: 0800 612 7211. We often work on a no win no fee situation and that could very well be for you.