Google has asked the Australian High Court to overturn the 2020 ruling, which it warns could have a “devastating” effect on the wider internet. IN search giant said Friday it would be forced to “act as a censor” if the country’s highest court does not overturn a decision awarding a lawyer $ 40,000 in defamation damages for an article the company linked to through its search engine, reports .
In 2016, George Defteros, a Victorian attorney whose previous client list included people involved in Melbourne contacted Google and asked the company to remove the 2004 article . The article reports on murder charges filed by prosecutors against Defteros in connection with the deaths of three men. Those allegations were later dismissed in 2005. The company refused to remove the article from its search results because it considered the publication to be a reputable source.
The matter eventually came to court with Defteros successfully discussing the article and Google search results slandered him. The judge supervising the case ruled Age reporting implied that Defteros was comfortable with Melbourne’s criminal underworld. The Victorian Court of Appeals subsequently rejected Google’s offer to overturn the verdict.
From Google’s perspective, this is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Internet. “A hyperlink is not in itself a communication of what it connects to,” the company claims in its submission to the High Court. If the 2020 ruling is upheld, Google claims it will make it “responsible as the publisher of any thing published on the web to which its search results provide a hyperlink”, including news coming from reputable sources. In its defense, the company points to a from the Supreme Court of Canada, which in itself had a hyperlink, never published defamatory material.
We contacted Google for comment.
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