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Defamation lawyer asks: Do you think that Google should be responsible for defamatory results that appear on its search results? If the person who posted defamatory allegations about you on the internet cannot be traced, is it fair to allow Google to carry on pointing internet users to the defamatory web page through its search engine?
Google’s view on this is that they are not responsible for internet content, even on their own free Blogger sites and that they are also not responsible for what content appears on the search results.
Google has been claiming in various courts (of democratic countries) that it has no control over search results but this assertion is difficult to reconcile with its ability and willingness to omit and manipulate search results in countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.
In an interesting twist in a Court of Appeal case which concerns the former conservative council candidate Payam Tamiz, his Barrister Goldwin Busutill made this interesting observation to the court:
‘The notion that the internet runs “automatically” or “passively” is in essence a powerful myth which has been fostered very successfully and profitably by internet superpowers such as Google Inc. It suits their business model to take and to be seen to be taking a ‘‘hands off’’ approach and not really able to do anything about problems that may be generated by their internet-based operations.’
The idea that companies can rip enormous financial benefits without having to incur any risks or liabilities to the citizens of this country is foreign to the English tradition of ‘fair play’.
The same issue has recently been highlighted in the media in relation to the low level of taxes which is paid in the UK by some multinational companies (such as Google and Amazon).
There is a perception that there is something very secretive about these sorts of companies whose operation appears to be anything but transparent.
This apparent lack of transparency might provide these companies with tremendous short term gains but eventually it will come back to bite them.
Written by Defamation lawyer Yair Cohen