Denis Naughten speaking in the Dáil.

Naughten to seek ban on sex offenders' right to be forgotten

Local TD Denis Naughten is to seek the support of Justice Minister Helen McEntee tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) on changes to current laws to ensure sex offenders cannot erase their past offences either online or by changing their name.

Tomorrow the Oireachtas Justice Committee will consider changes to the Sex Offenders Amendment Bill 2021, and Deputy Naughten said he would be seeking to close off loopholes that allow a sex offender to have their offences effectively forgotten through a change of the offender's name by deed poll or by misuse of the EU General Data Protection Regulation which provides for the 'right to be forgotten', under specific circumstances.

"Changing their names makes it more difficult for members of the public to do an online check into a person's history and this is then compounded by companies like Google who are granting sex offenders the right to have the media record of their offences erased online," stated the Galway - Roscommon TD who is a long-time campaigner on the reform of laws on the management of sex offenders.

He pointed out that in the UK, where the sex offenders register was modernised over a decade ago, offenders were using the deed poll process to change their name to avoid detection.

"Over the last decade, as I have campaigned to have a proper and effective sexual offenders register, I have been confronted by arguments regarding the rights of offenders.

"I believe that it is now time to change this balance in favour of victims and ensure that their stories are not brushed under the electronic carpet by giving sex offenders the right to be forgotten."

He said it appeared that the only test Google applied to a request to be forgotten online, and to have court reports erased, was the length of time since the material went online. This was not considering the public interest need to have such information about sex offenders permanently accessible, the TD said.

"For the sake of victims who have to live with the consequences of these perpetrators, and any potential future victims, those convicted of sexual offences should lose the right to be forgotten, permanently," Deputy Naughten concluded.