Denis Naughten has called on the Government to update the law to ensure that sex offenders cannot erase their past offences either online or by changing their name.
Speaking in the Dáil this evening on the Sex Offenders Amendment Bill, Denis Naughten said the key weakness in the proposed law was that it failed to close off loopholes that allow a sex offender to have their offences effectively forgotten through the change of the offender’s name by deed poll or by using the Google ‘right to be forgotten’.
He 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.”
He pointed out to the Dáil that the only test that Google seemed to apply to a request to be forgotten online, and to have court reports erased, was the length of time since the material went online, which was not considering the public interest need to have such information permanently accessible about sex offenders.
Denis Naughten also highlighted a weakness in the law whereby it does not prohibit a sex offender changing their name in order to attempt to circumvent monitoring under the sex offender’s register. 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.
Mr. Naughten outlined a specific example:“Terry Price had committed a string of sexual offences over 3 decades and had changed his name 5 times, to try to avoid detection, including one instance where he was allowed to change his name while in prison.”
He added: “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.”