One of the issues lawyers often get asked by their clients is what steps they can take to get unlawful or offensive content removed from the internet without having to bring legal proceedings. The major providers of information society services all provide takedown and complaint forms so that issues can be raised about unlawful material which is published or made available by them.
In many cases these forms can be used to have unlawful content removed altogether, while in other cases such requests may be a first step taken before the commencement of proceedings.
These takedown and complaint forms are sometimes difficult to find. In this post we provide a list of the relevant links (details of which found in Chapters 1 and 2 of Online Publication Claims and on the dedicated website). They are listed in alphabetical order of service provider.
These online forms are often best way to deal with online abuse or the dissemination of false material. Although the categories of content covered by the forms varies, typically they cover abusive or offensive material (which may amount to harassment or bullying), private or confidential information including bank account and credit card details as well as information relating to people’s private and sex lives, and information that is the subject of a court order (e.g. an anonymity order). Not all providers allow individuals to complain about libel issues but sometimes libel complaints can be raised using forms that allow the reporting of “other removal issues”. In the case of search engines, there are also forms to block search results in Europe under the “right to be forgotten” established by the Google Spain case.
Bing has a form for reporting concerns including offensive material and private information.
There is a form to make a request to Block Bing Search Results in Europe.
For reporting on content that may defamation/libel it is necessary to use the form entitled “Report other legal removal issue”.
For removal of personal information, such as a bank account number, an image of a handwritten signature, or a nude or sexually explicit image or video users should complete the “Remove information from Google” form.
For the removal of defamatory content it is necessary to complete the form entitled “Report other legal removal issue.”
In order to request removal of content indexed on Google Search based on European data protection law Google provides a form entitled EU Privacy Removal.
There are specific forms for three kinds of wrongdoing:
- Private information which is posted on Twitter can be reported using this form.
- Impersonation accounts can be reported using this form
- Abusive behaviour – in violation of the Twitter Rules – can be reported using this form
WordPress.com provides a form entitled “Report content to WordPress.com staff” which allows, inter alia, reporting of content for being abusive.
YouTube has a page entitled “Safety and Abuse Reporting” – covering among other things harassment and cyberbullying, impersonation, violent threats. There is no option for dealing with defamation.