A cross-party group of MPs and peers are urging the Government to introduce legislation that forces Google to censor search results that a court has found to be in breach of someone’s privacy.
The committee heard evidence from ex-Formula 1 boss Max Mosley on how he spent a large sum of money removing Internet traces of a secretly filmed video by the now defunct News of the World. Despite a UK court upholding Mosley’s right to privacy, Google still had links to the offending video.
Google defended its position by upholding the principle of the unfettered flow of information. Their reputation has been built on the search engine’s relevant and unbiased search results without the influence of corporations or Governments. In exceptional circumstances they have censored search search results but only under extreme pressure or where there is strong evidence of the web community hijacking search results.
While one can sympathise with individuals with a genuine issue with privacy, legislation would be unworkable.
See our earlier blog post: George Bush’s miserable failure and the Michelle Obama image.
See the full article here: Google should be forced to sensor search results
A prominent Premiership footballer is currently attempting to sue the Twitter corporation and persons unknown (i.e. those that have named him in recent Tweets). While Christmas has come very early for his lawyers, the net result has been even more people knowing about his exploits and his name spreading to other social media like Facebook.
The Internet is still seen as the last bastion of free expression, and many of us write blogs, tweet and update websites without thinking through the legal implications of what we say. In 2001, there was a landmark legal case where a lecturer Dr Godfrey successfully sued Demon Internet for not removing a forged message sent in his name. Demon Internet left the offending remark available for 10 additional days after the initial complaint from Dr Godfrey and that oversight cost them over £250 000 in an out of court settlement.
Following Godfrey v Demon, ISPs began to remove defamatory statements as soon as they received a complaint about them, although this has yet to be challenged in court.
It’s quite common and desirable to be passionate in what we write in social media and websites, but perhaps we should be more wary of what we say as English libel laws do apply to information posted on the Internet. Your ISP may intervene to remove an offending remark, but you could also liable for action. In the 2006 case of Keith-Smith versus Williams an individual posting a message on a Yahoo discussion board was successfully sued for her comments.