Google to Build Giant ’Censorship Machine’?
A French court ruled Wednesday that Google must rid its search results of nine images of an orgy involving former Formula One chief Max Mosley.
Google’s associate general counsel, Daphne Keller, said the ruling amounted to asking the search giant to build a "censorship machine" and that the company would appeal.
In 2008, the now-defunct News of the World newspaper published a story alleging that Mosley participated in a sex session with prostitutes. It also posted a video on its website that purported to show Mosley during the session.
Mosley has acknowledged his involvement but said the British tabloid grossly violated his privacy. He has since taken legal action in several countries and won suits against the paper in British and French courts. Images of the orgy can still be found on the Web.
The court ruled that Google must purge nine images from its search results or pay 1,000 euros ($1,300) each time one appears. It also ordered Google to pay Mosley 1 euro ($1.40) in damages and 5,000 euros ($6,760) in court costs.
Mosley’s complaint asked that Google purge all images of the orgy and cited nine examples. The court ruled, however, only that Google had to purge the nine. It was unclear if there are more images on the Web, but the court said it was important to keep the order narrow.
Google, however, still argues that the ruling is too broad. It says it already removes specific Web addresses from its search results when they contain unlawful content and has done so for Mosley. Google is concerned that it wouldn’t be able to build a filter that only targets the Mosley images but would accidentally also weed out lawful content.
"This is a troubling ruling with serious consequences for free expression, and we will appeal it," said Keller.