Google says that they could “act as a censor” should the higher court not overrule a law that resulted in a lawyer receiving $40,000 in “defamation damages.” The company defends that a hyperlink is just a hyperlink and not a direct communication of what it links to.
Google Asks the High Court of Australia to Overturn a 2020 Ruling
According to the story by Engadget, Google has asked the High Court of Australia to overturn a 2020 ruling that the company warns could have a “devastating” effect on a much wider internet.
Per the filing that the massive search giant made on Friday, Google has claimed that the company will be forced to “act as a censor” should the country’s highest court decide not to overturn a decision that resulted in a lawyer getting $40,000 in defamation damages.
George Defteros Requested Google to Take Down an Article
The Guardian reported that the lawyer got the money due to an article that the company had linked through its search engine.
In 2016, George Defteros, a lawyer from the state of Victopria known for his past client list that includes individuals that were implicated in Melbourne’s notorious gangland killings, tried to contact Google in order to ask them to take down a 2004 article from The Age.
The piece reported certain murder charges that prosecutors filed directly against Defteros regarding the death of three men. The said charges were later dropped in 2005, but the company still refused to remove the article from its official search results due to viewing the publication as a “reputable source.”
Victorian Court of Appeals Rejected Google’s Bid
The particular matter then eventually went to court with Defteros successfully arguing that the article and Google’s search result had actually defamed him, according to another article by The Guardian. The judge who reportedly oversaw the case actually ruled that The Age’s reporting had implied that Defteros actually had close connections with Melbourne’s criminal underground.
In addition to that, the Victorian Court of Appeals even subsequently rejected Google’s bid to overturn the entire ruling. As far as Google is concerned, the company sees that the issue here is one of the fundamental building blocks of the entire internet.
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What This Could Mean for the Internet
Google insists that a hyperlink is not in and of itself “the communication” of what it directly links to. This is what the company contends in its submissions directly to the High Court. Should the 2020 judgment be left to stand, a lot of changes can happen.
Google claims that should the judgements stand, this will actually make the tech giant liable as the publisher of any particular matter published directly on the web to which its search results provide a hyperlink. These will evidently include news stories that even come from reputable sources.
To its defense, the company is pointing out a 2011 ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada. This particular ruling held a hyperlink by itself is officially “never a publication of defamatory material.”
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Written by Urian B.
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