3rd January 2012
Interesting data was recently released by Google, concerning the removal of offending web content from products which it owns. The data is focused on government requests from Google to remove content and it is not clear if the information that Google has published, includes Court orders in civil matters, where the court in effect, acts as a government agency. In relation to the UK, between January 2011 and June 2011, Google has removed a total of 11 items concerning defamation (from web searches as well as from Blogger and Google Earth). In 9 cases it did this following a Court Order.
The two other removals were as a consequence of an application by a government agency, most likely to be the Office of Fair Trading, because police requests for removal of information tend to be almost completely ignored. So over a period of 6 months, Google has only removed a total of 11 pieces of content. This information from the above database is consistent with my experience in dealing with Google Inc. over the past few years. The number of defamatory or offending pages that Google removes is worryingly low.
So who should actually be concerned about this strategy by Google Inc.? Well, the people who should be most worried about this are the poorest and the most vulnerable members of society. Obtaining Court orders against Google Inc. could get expensive and the enforcement process is also not particularly cheap. It follows that this route, of removing web content from Google websites through Court orders, is a privilege which can mainly be afforded by corporates or by those who are well off.
The poor and the vulnerable still have to wake up each morning for the rest of their days, seeing their name defamed and their well-being abused without any real prospect of having the abusive content ever removed.
Pinder Reaux & Associate