The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Someone Yet Again Trying to Vanish Post Criticizing New Britain (Conn.) Volunteer Commissioner Ken Haas


In 2017, I wrote about an attempt to use a forged court order to deindex New Britain Independent articles critical of New Britain (Connecticut) volunteer Conservation Commissioner Ken Haas (a mayoral appointee). Then someone tried to get Google to deindex my post about the forgery and a Techdirt post about the same forgery, arguing:

In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized an individual interest in the "practical obscurity" of certain personal information. The case was DOJ v. Reporters Committee for a Free Press. As well, this information is harmful to me as it concerns unfounded information which never resulted in prosecution. Not only has the dissemination of this information never been legitimate, but its internet referencing is clearly harmful to my reputation as my professional and personal surroundings can access it by typing my first and last names on the Internet.

A few months ago, it turns out, there was another attempt to deindex one of the original New Britain Independent articles, this time on a copyright infringement theory; the deindexing request was submitted under Ken Haas's name (though the deindexing request process doesn't verify whether the submitter name is accurate):

Copyright claim #1
KIND OF WORK: Unspecified
DESCRIPTION Text from a post that was on a private and personal Facebook profile stating, "You do know I have access to ALL city records. Including criminal and civil, right???".
ORIGINAL URLS: No copyrighted URLs were submitted.

The article had said, among other things,

At 9:21 PM Monday September 19th, 2016 Mr. Haas, in an exchange on Facebook, on a thread in which he was not originally included, tagged in, or involved with, injected himself.  Members of the community were having a conversation about the Tilcon deal that the Stewart Administration is pushing, regardless of community sentiment.  Hass interjected in this facebook conversation, threatening to embarrass one of the participants, who is a member of New Britain's community, using government resource's.  Hass said, "You do know I have access to ALL city records. Including criminal and civil, right???".

And of course that's "fair use" under copyright law, and not an infringement at all; criticizing a government official (even a volunteer) for this kind of short public comment, by quoting the comment, is fully legal—indeed, newspapers do it all the time. Google naturally didn't act on the deindexing request; but I though it worth noting that 08someone seems to be pretty insistent about trying to vanish criticism of Commissioner Haas.