Another plaintiff south of the Equator has taken Google to court over their failure to remove links to allegedly defamatory material posted on Ripoff Report. The case is currently in New Zealand’s High Court.
Evidence presented to the US antitrust hearings by the owners of the English website Foundem shows unequivocally that Google not only possess the technology to remove links permanently but edits the search results to suit its own purposes. The anti-competitive nature of Google’s editing of its search results was noted by the Chairman of the hearings in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission.
Google will remove the urls linking to defamatory material about any individual or company that it believes has the resources to litigate. The experience of this plaintiff is similar to my case and that of the 2008 Australian case that did not proceed to trial. In this case the plaintiffs obviously trusted that the urls would be removed permanently but the links are again showing in the search results for their name. The bottom line is that Google search results are not ‘neutral’ and increasingly the ‘automated’ and ‘innocent dissemination’ defence is being challenged in courts. The problem is that most plaintiffs do not do their research because the evidence is available – it is just a matter of putting it in front of a Judge.