Guidelines for Review of Requests for Removal of Content

Our policy:

Embarcadero Media will consider requests to remove a name or an article from our online archives under certain circumstances. The following factors will be evaluated:

For requests involving criminal cases:

  • The length of time since the crime occurred
  • The age of the defendant when the crime was committed
  • The seriousness of the crime
  • Whether a prosecution and conviction ultimately took place
  • Whether the conviction has been expunged by a court
  • Whether the person seeking removal is a public figure
  • The ongoing public interest in the story
  • The value of maintaining a publicly accessible and complete historic record of the story weighed against the impact on the individual(s) named in the story

In general, the name of a defendant will never be removed if he/she was convicted of a violent felony or a felony (and misdemeanors originally charged as felonies) involving fraud, extortion or similar crimes.

In general, if the conviction was for a misdemeanor crime other than as described above, the defendant was under 25 years old at the time of the incident, the incident occurred more than five years ago, the person is not a public figure and there are no special circumstances, the name of a defendant will be removed.

The name of a defendant who is arrested but never charged by the district attorney will generally be removed from a story written about the arrest.

Requests involving civil cases will be handled similarly.

For stories unrelated to criminal and civil cases:

  • If the person was a minor when the story was published, his/her name will be removed upon request under most circumstances.
  • If an adult requests the removal of his/her quotes from an article, and those statements are not deemed by the editor as important to the story, the person's name will generally be removed unless he/she is a public figure or unless the comments pertained to a public issue, controversy or concern. For example, if one of the subjects quoted in a feature story on how to stay in shape later decided they didn't want to have the online exposure, we would generally agree to remove his or her name.
  • Content published by the person on Lasting Memories (our self-serve obituary website) or on Town Square (our community forum) will generally be removed upon request unless doing so would confuse or mislead readers.

Embarcadero Media editors retain full discretion in granting (or not granting) these removals.

The reasons for our policy:

The use of internet search engines by employers and others to investigate the backgrounds of individuals exposes people whose name was published in our newspapers or websites to indefinite public exposure.

Unlike in the past, when editions of print newspapers were not easily retrievable or searchable, any story we publish online now remains easily available to search engines on the internet. In an even more unfair twist, a person with an unusual name will suffer disproportionately compared to someone with a common name, as an article with his/her name will likely appear at the top of a list of search results.

This policy is designed to balance the public's interest in accessing information about an individual whose name was deemed worthy of reporting at the time with the ability of a person to not be indefinitely subjected to potentially damaging or undesirable publicity arising out of an event that took place in the past.