Dublin start-up aims to remove your embarrassing posts and pictures from the web

8 Jan 2015

A barrister in Dublin is the driving force behind a new start-up that is one of the first businesses of its kind in the world to provide a service that specialises in helping individuals remove embarrassing or damaging photos and material from the web.

The Hit Team, which is led by barrister and digital privacy advocate Fergal Crehan, aims to place itself at the intersection of EU privacy laws, the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, and the presence of the international headquarters of social network Facebook and internet search giant Google.

While much was made of the iCloud hack and the hundreds of thousands of images hacked via the Snapchat app, the consultancy aims to defend people who have had photos or other material spread online without their consent.

This can take many forms, from photos posted after parties where too many drinks were involved, to revenge porn by jilted lovers.

The serious business of online reputation management

The reality is ordinary people are finding themselves victim of reputational damage or loss when, for example, a potential employer does a Google search, explained Crehan.

Fergal Crehan

“While celebrities who have had their photos leaked by hackers and malicious exes are usually portrayed as victims, the women we’ve worked with are not weeping into their virtual hankies.

“They’re angry and looking to reclaim their privacy and their online reputations,” Crehan said.

The Hit Team is focusing not only on clients in Ireland but people across the world who are striving to defend their online reputation.

The tech industry’s second home

After Silicon Valley, Ireland is the technology industry’s second home, with major giants such Twitter, LinkedIn, Dropbox and many more headquartered internationally in the country.

This means they are in effect answerable to Irish law and regulated by Irish regulators.

“If you want privacy in the digital world,” said Crehan, “Ireland is the place to come looking for it.”

Online privacy image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years