Judge says Google is 'passive wall'
Google has pretty much got widespread immunity from English defamation laws after a ruling from Mr Justice Eady, who agreed with the notion that the search engine is merely a "platform provider" and "should not be regarded as a publisher, or even as one who authorised publication".
"It is no doubt often true that the owner of a wall which has been festooned, overnight, with defamatory graffiti could acquire scaffolding and have it all deleted with whitewash", said the judge, adding, "that is not necessarily to say, however, that the unfortunate owner must, unless and until this has been accomplished, be classified as a publisher."
This all came about after former Conservative Party hopeful and law student, Payam Tamiz, tried to sue Google Inc over comments made on a Blogger blog. The publication labelled him, without justification, a drug dealer and a thief. Thanks to this ruling, the case is now dead leaving Tamiz facing around £20,000 in lawyers' bills. Being a Tory, he can probably afford it.
The judge said the allegations could not necessarily be dismissed as "mere vulgar abuse" and it was "not altogether surprising" that Mr Tamiz chose to sue Google as most of the posts were anonymous and it would have been difficult to track down those responsible.
Catrin Evans, representing Google, argued "it has no control over any of this content" and, far from being a publisher, is merely "a neutral service provider". The judge joined in, saying that: "Google Inc makes the point that it has no way of knowing whether the comments complained of were true or not, or subject to some other defence in law. It argues that it cannot reasonably be expected to investigate and determine the truth or falsity fo allegations made by bloggers".
He added: "One needs to be wary of analogies when considering modern technology, but it may perhaps be said that the position is, according to Google Inc, rather as though it owned a wall on which various people had chosen to inscribe graffiti. It does not regard itself as being more responsible for the content of these graffiti than would the owner of such a wall".
What are you waiting for? Get drawing crude phalluses everywhere!