Saturday, 2 June 2007

Why Does Google Publish Libel?

"At a time when Google proposes to amass ever more sensitive and personal information on Internet users worldwide, Google's lack of responsibility in actively distributing unsupported libel has given many, real cause for concern. It is the unique status of libel law in America that allows Google immunity from prosecution from anything they publish on www.google.com. And yes, that includes anything they'd like to publish about you" claims Brian Retkin Director dotWORLDS.

London, England 5/31/2007 6:24 AM GMT (TransWorldNews) AND as published on Google’s own website

By allowing defamation, libel and character assassination to be posted on their Search Engine by the unverified, the alias and the anonymous, Google undermines and threatens individuals and corporations alike” says Retkin “Alarmingly, Google operates such a policy without fear of accountability, responsibility or compensation for any unjustified degradation suffered by individuals or for the potentially huge costs incurred by businesses supplying bona fida goods and services to the economy”.

“Google’s complete lack of care in this field is certainly not reflected in their own ambition as they adapt their Search Engine results to accommodate their own sensitivities” says Retkin “In facilitating their growth globally, Google often filters offensive material when catering to new markets with tighter controls. Unfortunately for almost everyone else, or at least those without a few million dollars in the bank to fight back, should Google distribute unsubstantiated and damaging libel about you, there's little that you can do about it – at least not for a few years as that’s how long they keep their information current”.

Is this the same Google that's now begging for even more personal information about you, your family, your lifestyle and any other sensitive data you might care provide? “Well, yes it is” says Retkin “Today, Google needs you. Google needs you for their databases, for their marketing projects and for umpteen other schemes under development. On this subject at least, Google can't wait to help you out. The questions that arise are whether or not Google can be trusted to use the information responsibly and whether, on past performance, their proposals should even be considered?”

Why has this been such a worry to so many? “In our case and for some time” say Retkin, our company dotWORLDS has been trying to persuade Google to remove numerous grossly libellous articles published on their Search Engine. Google's initial response was that they had no responsibility for any content displayed on their websites and that complaints should be directed to the author. However, as these articles were written and posted anonymously (an option available to anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the Internet) there was no way of tracing the culprit(s) even though we were fairly certain it came from one or more of our competitors.”

dotWORLDS feel that these libellous postings would probably never have been seen but for the Search Engine, as they believe that the attacks on them are all but indistinguishable from so many other unsubstantiated and obscure grudge web pages on the net. “Rather” say dotWORLDS “it is Google's web-crawl system that allows for just about anything, no matter how inaccurate, spurious, nonsensical or even illegal to be gathered unscreened, recorded, indexed and ranked, later to be disseminated at Google’s inclination to millions Internet users across the world”

There are rulings that Google can rely on in cases such as dotWORLDS and they are the same rulings that would probably govern the use of your private information should Google get hold of it. For example:


1) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (USA), 1996....…This Act specifically states that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker." That legalese means that, unlike print and broadcast companies, online service providers cannot be sued for disseminating defamatory attacks on citizens posted by others.

2) Excerpt from BBC report from November 2006 entitled "Bloggers and US internet providers cannot be liable for posting defamatory comments written by third parties, the California Supreme Court has ruled" .......Overturning a decision by the San Francisco appeal court, the court ruled that people claiming they were defamed online could now only seek damages from the original author of the comments - and not the website which re-posted it. The court ruled that that Internet Service Providers were protected by US Federal law that said providers of chat rooms or news groups are not considered the publishers of information furnished by others. "The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," said Associate Justice Carol A. Corrigan.


Still, it’s not all bad news. Using legal argument, dotWORLDS estimate that they have forced Google to remove over 1500 libellous links from Google’s websites worldwide (eg: google.co.uk, google.fr etc) – with the notable exception of Google’s American website www.google.com. Even so, dotWORLDS are convinced that despite the differing libel laws, they’re moving closer to fulfilling even that challenge. More recently dotWORLDS claim they discovered that Google had begun re-publishing libel in the UK, that under threat of court action from dotWORLDS, Google had agreed to withdraw. “We believe that Google have now committed a serious offence under English law” say dotWORLDS

Search for dotWORLDS on Google's UK website (www.google.co.uk) and dotWORLDS claim you won’t find much of the libel remaining. DotWORLDS say it was a very different story not so long ago although much has been achieved since then. What you will find instead are a number of legal notices at the bottom of the search pages to the effect "In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 3 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org".

Whilst this is a victory for dotWORLDS, it is by no means a total victory. Make exactly the same dotWORLDS search on Google's USA website (www.google.com) and included on the information displayed you will see the libel that Google has deleted on its other websites. Even more disappointing for dotWORLDS is that there is little or no mention of the Google/dotWORLDS dispute “Where is the balance?” says Retkin “We haven’t seen dotWORLDS legal requests to Google, nor any of Google’s deletions notices that have been posted on Google’s other websites. We haven’t even see the hyperlinks to information on the deletions dotWORLDS forced Google to make. This alone should be of great concern to anyone relying on Google’s information as truth (although why shouldn’t they). In the case of dotWORLDS, not only is Google potentially misinforming their American users but they are also putting them at risk of immediate legal action should they repeat the libel publicly. In a lengthy and expensive hearing, the plea ‘I saw it on Google’ is not a defense. It is only Google that has protection”.

Whether or not Google wish to remove libellous content on their USA website, having already made a judgement call to delete it in the UK, should the same information on the Google/dotWORLDS dispute be displayed on Google USA. “Yes” say dotWORLDS “by refusing to publish crucial information on their own home ground in the same way, Google's claim that they are not the arbiter of the Internet becomes spurious. Have Google intentionally censured their own content and if so, what is the reason? Coming directly from Google office, this information on the dispute should be the first thing displayed. However, on Google’s USA, website the information it doesn’t even seem to exist - at least not where it’s supposed to“.

Google for us was about relevancy, accuracy and quality, say dotWORLDS “but out of approximately 8 billion results currently available, suddenly somehow more than 1 billion are related to Google. Can there really be 1 billion interesting, relevant and/or different things to say about them? Perhaps the quest is now for quantity whatever the cost? Perhaps Google believe that the Search Engine with the most web pages can triumph over all others. Perhaps this has become a race to an indeterminate finish line. If this is so, perhaps this is the answer to the question: Why does Google publish libel? Perhaps it’s just because Google can“.



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3 comments:

The_Walrus said...

Google does not publish. It indexes things that are already published.

Xaq Fixx said...

blaming google for other people libel is like blaming the card catalog for the content of the books it references.
You fail.

knowall said...

no, not at all...rather, it's like a news reporter who takes no care or responsibility for his/her reporting....including accuracy or truthfulness