back to article Google not liable for defamatory search snippets

Google is not the publisher of defamatory words that appear in its search results, the High Court ruled yesterday. Even when Google had been told that its results contained libellous words, it was not liable as a publisher, said Mr Justice Eady. The search giant's US and UK operations were sued in England by a London-based …


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  1. Samo


    It gives me food for thought, though. It makes me shudder if Google had done what MIS had wanted in taking down the snippet, as wouldn't that construe as censoring the Internet? If I type Google review", for example, i damn well want to see both sides of the arguement, not just the "Google is golden" reviews...

    Still, nice to know that some judges have common sense AND a glimmer of tech know-how.

  2. Lou Gosselin

    Ruling Inaccuracies?

    I agree with the overall ruling, however does anyone else find it disturbing that google is defending it's actions using technicalities which are factually wrong.

    "One cannot merely press a button to ensure that the offending words will never reappear on a Google search snippet: there is no control over the search terms typed in by future users. If the words are thrown up in response to a future search, it would by no means follow that [Google Inc.] has authorised or acquiesced in that process"

    "Thus, submits [Google's barrister Antony White QC], it is practically impossible, and certainly disproportionate, to expect [Google Inc.] to embark on a wild goose chase in order to determine where the words complained of, or some of them, might from time to time 'pop up' on the Web."

    Google is arguing it's too incompetent to control the words on it's website? Of course it can, but if I understand the ruling it's suggesting that it has no responsibility to add that capability.

    I did a test on, and low and behold it is already removing specific four letter words from it's type-ahead and auto-correct search results based on some maintained ban list. It does not prevent the user from typing them in explicitly, but it demonstrates that google has already implemented the ability to eliminate search results based on certain keywords (unless they are typed verbatim).

    Instead of (wrong) technicalities, this ruling should have directly addressed why google is not accountable even though they do in fact have the capability to eliminate results based on keywords.

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  4. Dustin 2


    Imagine that, a place where someone can express their opinion about goods and services. Last I heard forum posts are considered opinion. It just sounds like this place does not want people to hear that they have bad services. I for one like that I can search for something and find both the bad and the good about that item or service.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm i dont think so....

    Unless I missed something I have never once been able to use, it always forwards me right back to So some of the assumptions are a little wrong about U.K. users using

  6. Adam Foxton

    @Lou Gosselin

    The lack of auto-completed search terms probably doesn't have anything to do with what they'll actually allow to be searched- it's probably made up of the most common search terms rather than their results. The lack of certain 4-letter words will have been a simple change to a simple list so as to not cause offence to some people or to give employers any reason to disallow google for being "obscene".

    And they're not saying they're too incompetent to alter words on their own website. They're saying they're just linking to that website- having found it automatically, remember (no human involvement)- and that as they have no control over that website. And that trying to get rid of all their potentially libellous linked-to pages would be incredibly difficult.

    Can you imagine if they got rid of El Reg because Phorm declared them libellous? Even worse can you imagine someone like Google having a blacklist that can be added to easily by outside influences? BAM straight away the world's biggest search engine becomes (a) not legally protected once they've been informed of "illegal" materials and (b) the biggest propaganda tool ever used by propagandist tools!

    Google (like all general search engines) should be pretty much immune from prosecution so long as they don't start deliberately serving up completely the wrong results.

  7. James O'Shea

    @AC 21:12 GMT

    It depends on what else you've set your system as a whole to do, and which OS you use. When I'm doing searches on a Mac, if I've set the Mac to use British English as the default system (and have the little Union Flag sitting up in the upper right corner of the menubar) I get results from the UK version of Google and Bing. If I reset the same Mac to use just plain English (a.k.a. Yankee English) and have the Stars & Stripes in the upper right corner of the menubar, I get results from the US versions. It's considerably more difficult to get the same effects from a Windows box, and involves doing a restart to make it stick, but I can make a WinBox think that it's using the Queen's English, too. I'd say that someone in the UK should easily be able to get Yankee English and therefore the Yankee version of search results if they really want to.

    The question is why would they want to...

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  10. Martin Smith 2

    @AC 21:12 GMT

    On the Google UK page click the link that says "Go to"!

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  12. Anonymous Coward

    Try this simple test

    If you want to buy a product or a service, just Google: [name of thing] and problem

    It's amazing what other people have already discovered....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They seem to do it quiet well

    for the Chinese government

  14. rodneytrotter

    Check out the original Train2Game SCAM ?

    Its here :-

    Sounds like TrainingProviders (TP's) have some very dubious tactics and are exploiting the youth of our country.

    Sign this petition if you think they need looking at :-


  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ctizen Journalism Good or Bad

    The issue here is one of fact, now if I call to task the author calling himself Rodney Trotter then is that correct? To join the fun of that argument, who am I Darth Fader?

    I can say I have won journalist and broadcast awards, worked for the BBC, numerous print outets and commercial radio.

    Therefore, with ctizen journalism the question is who has the facts. Young Rodney has issued a view whilst the other view can be seen, complete with High Court docs, on youtube.

    So now the consumer has to decide which view is correct. Equally, the media (journalists) also need to decide.

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