censored

Google Sued By Max Mosley For ‘Orgy’ Search

The former head of FIA, Max Mosley wants Google to remove damaging search results proactively

On by Tom Jowitt 1

Google is once again being sued, but this time it is at the hands of former F1 boss Max Mosley, who is objecting to the embarrassing search results the search engine provides when users do a Google search on his name.

Mosley is well used to the courts as he is a former barrister and was also previously an amateur racing driver. However he is perhaps best known as the former president of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for Formula One and other international motorsports.

Sex Stories

However, in 2008 a media firestorm erupted when stories about his sex life appeared in British newspapers. Mosley stood down at the end of his FIA term in 2009, but not before he successfully sued the News of the World for invasion of privacy in July 2008.

This week, Mosley appeared before the Leveson inquiry in London, where he revealed that he is now suing Google in France and Germany over the ‘orgy’ search results.

In effect, he is suing Google in an attempt to force the search engine giant to monitor and censor search results about his alleged sado-masochistic orgy.

He also revealed that he had taken legal action in 22 countries and ordered the removal of material from 193 websites in Germany.

Dangerous Search Engines?

“The fundamental thing is that Google could stop this appearing but they don’t or won’t as a matter of principle,” Mosley was quoted as telling the inquiry by the Guardian newspaper. “The really dangerous things are the search engines.”

The newspaper said that it is understood that Google has already removed hundreds of references to the defamatory claims after requests from Mosley’s solicitors.

At the moment, Google only removes specific web links returned from its search results, if they have been ruled as unlawful by a court and reported to the search engine giant.

However, it is clear that Mosley thinks this practice is simply not good enough and is attempting to change the system, so that Google monitors its own search results and prevents the material from appearing in the first place.

Such is Mosley’s frustration, that he is reportedly considering suing Google in its home state of California if it does not censor the results.

“Google’s search results reflect the information available on billions of web pages on the internet,” a Google spokesman was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper. “We don’t, and can’t, control what others post online, but when we’re told that a specific page is illegal under a court order, then we move quickly to remove it from our search results.”

Online Censorship

The issue of censorship of the Internet remains a very touchy subject, however, as many regard the Web as one of the last bastions of free speech.

In October, it was revealed that the British government had demanded the removal of 135 videos from Google’s YouTube service in the first half of 2011 due to alleged national security threats. The government has also pledged to block web sites that promote terrorism and extremism.

In May, French President Nicolas Sarkozy lectured some of the world’s top technology leaders in a speech before the G8 summit, urging them to work with governments over internet regulations. He had earlier called for an internet censorship debate at the G8.

Many fear that attempts like this will lead to a situation similar to that of China, where the Chinese government actively runs Internet censorship campaign. It recently gained the agreement of major Chinese businesses, including search engine firm Baidu and e-commerce giant Alibaba, to increase their own censorship actions.

Tom Jowitt

Author: Tom Jowitt

Freelance TechWeek Reporter
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