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Bill Bennett


Fortress Google under siege

Wellington tech industry lawyer Michael Wigley hits the nail on the head writing about the European court decision in Another loss for Fortress Google on the Tuanz website.

He says the European decision is sensible and the move will not have a chilling effect on free speech.

He writes:

Google Inc has a corporate structure that makes it difficult to be sued, with carefully set up separate subsidiary companies in countries, and difficult communication channels, as we’ve seen from our clients’ experiences.

And it has continued to expand its commercial dominance by its strategies.

Wigley makes a similar point to my Google Australia’s dishonest criticism of EU right to be forgotten ruling.

It’s hard to bring Google to account because it is remote and deliberately chooses not to engage in dialogue with others, including those who suffer the consequences of its actions.

This wouldn’t matter if it just existed in an obscure niche, but Google is the main gatekeeper to the Internet. It plays a central role in modern life.

Shrugging shoulders and dismissing responsibility is not an option. If Google doesn’t clean up its act, the regulators will move in and force Google’s hand.



5 thoughts on “Fortress Google under siege

  1. I don’t think what the EU is trying to do is right. It is punishing the librarian for what an author wrote. If you really want things taken down from the Internet go to the source. If it isn’t there to be indexed it won’t be indexed. Google doesn’t specifically hunt down these kinds of articles and puts them in results.

    I think everyone needs to adjust to the free flow of information we have now. Yes, people can still see pictures of how stupid you got at that party 15 years ago which previously would have been completely forgotten, but we as a society I think can handle having public records like that.

    This is completely delusional to think that any system has enough resources to cater to this kind of censoring. And just like Content ID we will half-arsed algorithms that hurt more innocent content that do what they were supposedly put in place for. Just like copyright/piracy actions, this is going to be abused and already has been.


    I think overall more information is good, rather than bad. I am very disgusted with the UK already with their Internet practices, they need a swift kick.

    1. That’s half right. To use your analogy, in an ideal world it would be like going to a librarian and saying “that book you have is defamatory, please take it off the shelf or we’ll have you in court for spreading malicious falsehoods”.

      Except that Google deliberately goes out of its way to make that conversation difficult. This would matter, but Google is now the foremost repository of all human knowledge and so it’s results are take to be definitive – even when they are not.

      With power comes responsibility.

      The European Court order does open the way for abuse – as you rightly point out. But we wouldn’t be in that position if Google took its responsibility seriously in the first place.

      1. As I said, thinking Google could effectively do that is insane. The Internet was built upon redundancy. Stop a URL, there is more than one URL to get there, sites link to other stuff on other pages all the time, other sites quote it, URLs change. If you’re talking about a specific event rather than a specific article well that is doubly insane. Say you want to erase the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, how would you do that? Block every site that refences it? Now you’ve blocked the Red Cross, NZQC, NZHerald, and a lot more…

        Not to mention verifying you are the person and the takedown is legitimate and needed. Also, what about other search engines? Does that count on-site search engines? Can NZ Herald no longer link to their own article? Can Bing or DuckDuckGo?

        Google uses bots for a reason.

        I’m not defending their practices because they do the dodgy stuff every other business does in that regard. I’m saying this specific ruling is crazy talk. I do think we need to reign in that behaviour and the tax evasion too.

      2. The problem with the European ruling is that it removes links to legitimate and accurate information, not just incorrect, defamatory or malicious falsehoods.

        In what way does Google’s linking to legitimate content demonstrate an abuse of responsibility?

        1. “In what way does Google’s linking to legitimate content demonstrate an abuse of responsibility?”

          That’s not what I said. The lack of responsibility is that Google deliberately makes it difficult for people to communicate when there’s a problem with content. If it fixed that, the court ruling wouldn’t be necessary.

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