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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Google guilty of defamation

Courts outside the USA are increasingly uninterested in hearing the social media platforms assert that they are above the civil law:
Google has been ordered to pay $40,000 in damages to a Melbourne lawyer after a Supreme Court of Victoria ruling found the internet giant was a publisher, and had defamed the man. In today's ruling, Justice Melinda Richards has determined that Google was a publisher, despite denials by the company.

The case centred on articles and images published by The Age newspaper in 2004, after Mr Defteros was charged with conspiracy over the murder of Carl Williams and other underworld figures.

At the time, Mr Defteros ran a legal firm in Melbourne whose clients included gangland figures.

The charges were dropped the following year, but Mr Defteros had surrendered his practising certificate for three years.

Mr Defteros argued that in 2016 and 2017, searches on Google continued to turn up articles and hyperlinks to web material that defamed him, including an entry in the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

During a trial last year, Google's lawyers had argued it was not the publisher of the material and it had not defamed Mr Defteros.

It submitted that the automation of its search engines meant it was not an intentional communicator of words or images, particularly if a user clicked through to another website.

Justice Richards rejected this in her ruling today.

"The Google search engine … is not a passive tool," she wrote in her 98-page judgement.

"It is designed by humans who work for Google to operate in the way it does, and in such a way that identified objectionable content can be removed, by human intervention.

"I find that Google becomes a publisher of the search results that its search engine returns to a user who enters a search query."

She also found that providing the hyperlink within the search results "amounted to publication of the webpage".
Unfortunately, they can still get away with their curated weaponization with complete impunity in the USA thanks to the federal laws that let them do the publisher-not publisher dance and state laws that let them use anti-SLAAP laws to impose costs on their victims.

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37 Comments:

Blogger weka April 30, 2020 5:36 AM  

The Victorian Supreme Four let the Pell conviction stand that was over ruled by the Australian Supreme Court 7-0.

Expect an appeal.

Or better, Google can withdraw from the antipodes and preferably take Facebook and Twitter with them.

Blogger KeaponLaffin April 30, 2020 5:37 AM  

This is why it's my theory that when skynet rises, it will eat Google first.
Google skynet will look at silicon valley and say... you're a bunch of aholes, I'm going to Andromeda.

Blogger Scuzzaman April 30, 2020 5:44 AM  

So if some lefty calls me a Nazi on Twitter I should sue him in Australia?

In that exact case, about 2 years ago, I got banned for telling him to go fuck himself. Seemed an odd judgement but that’s the converged for you. I expected nothing else.

It’s unfortunate that the US refuses to take a stand on this but the signs of green shoots elsewhere are encouraging. I see the feds have taken a shot at Amazon by listing Amazon’s offshore websites as fake merchandise outlets under trade regulations. Currently little other than reputational damage as a consequence but one hopes the Trump vs Bezos animosity will ratchet up a level. Open war would be a massive boost to the popcorn industry.

Blogger Dan in Georgia April 30, 2020 6:24 AM  

Wikipedia should be the next target, at least outside the US. After Sullivan vs NYT (I think this is what Clarence Thomas is staying on the bench for) is overturned, in the US too. Maybe Owen can show bookings before and after Wikipedia started trashing him, and all the times their censors deleted corrected entries, and reentered the defamatory ones.

Blogger damaris.tighe April 30, 2020 6:26 AM  

Sober Judge.

Blogger damaris.tighe April 30, 2020 6:30 AM  

These judgements are all stepping stones along the way to curbing the excesses of social media.

Blogger bramley April 30, 2020 7:31 AM  

Guilty of much more as well

Blogger stats April 30, 2020 7:34 AM  

This just means that what little bastions of free-speech existed on the internet before will be ruthless squashed now. This is in no way good news. Anything the least edgy, topical, controversial will be shut-down with utter efficiency and little or no due process. This judgess uses the same arguments Elizabeth Warren pushed for breaking up the social media companies: too much free-speech.

Blogger Tetro April 30, 2020 7:38 AM  

BioMar will save us all.

Blogger Mathias April 30, 2020 7:57 AM  

@stats

What meth are you on? The argument is that these people actively curate the content they put up on their search page, and are therefore a publisher. This means they will be held to the legal standard of a publisher, which includes being liable for libel if they publish it. Which is entirely valid. The only way this relates to free speech is how Google's curation suppresses it.

Blogger Gregory the Tall April 30, 2020 8:42 AM  

The good thing also being that Google has money and can be taken to court in many different countries whilst many of the vicious rogan-sized anklebiters smearing other people's reputation on the internet are difficult to get hold of and difficult to get money from.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd April 30, 2020 9:17 AM  

stats wrote:This just means that what little bastions of free-speech existed on the internet before will be ruthless squashed now.
You mean like they have been doing all along? This doesn't give the SJWs anything they hadn't already taken.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 April 30, 2020 9:29 AM  

It's dirt simple: if Google was just returning results based on relevance to the search, then it probably wouldn't be considered a publisher.

Instead, they were actively making sure that certain results were being returned, mostly for political reasons. That makes them a publisher, not a provider.

I'm sure I'm off on this though. There's probably all these crazy little details in the law that determine whether or not you're a publisher or provider that I just don't care to learn.

Blogger VD April 30, 2020 9:33 AM  

This just means that what little bastions of free-speech existed on the internet before will be ruthless squashed now. This is in no way good news.

The bowties, they spin. Of course it's good news. Free speech is not a good thing.

Blogger Akulkis April 30, 2020 10:02 AM  

The only way to get rid of this "publisher-but-not-a-publisher" charade by the big internet corps is to file a lawsuit with two independent complaints -- one which will make the target business liable if they are a publisher, and one which makes the target liable if they are not a publisher.

Blogger Oswald April 30, 2020 10:39 AM  

Google will win in the end. They will always win, because its their search engine. Just like the house (casino) always wins in the end. If you go into their house, you have to play by their rules. Their rules guarantee they win in the end. If you don't like their rules, then you have to go somewhere else. That is the only way to beat them.

Blogger Darren April 30, 2020 10:47 AM  

"the automation of its search engines meant it was not an intentional communicator of words or images"
Now do the opposite, Google.
Because you clearly have some NON-AUTOMATION of your search engines.

Blogger Ominous Cowherd April 30, 2020 10:49 AM  

swiftfoxmark2 wrote:It's dirt simple: if Google was just returning results based on relevance to the search, then it probably wouldn't be considered a publisher.

Instead, they were actively making sure that certain results were being returned, mostly for political reasons. That makes them a publisher, not a provider.

The judge noticed that the relevance is determined by algorithm, which is determined by Google employees. That makes Google responsible for the results, per the judge.

Blogger Darren April 30, 2020 10:53 AM  

Owen is justified, of course, but James O'Keefe is way ahead of him in line for this. I mean, James (whose livelihood depends on being seen as trustworthy) repeatedly points out on his Twitter that his Wiki article STILL quotes and cites blatant lies about him from "mainstream" news media outlets THAT THE OUTLETS THEMSELVES eventually admitted were lies and corrected!

Blogger Darren April 30, 2020 10:55 AM  

In the almost 100 pages about Google's actions did the judge use the word "curate" or describe the equivalent?

Blogger Darren April 30, 2020 10:56 AM  

Great idea! But "independent" better be truly the case. Or thrown out the cases will be.

Blogger Mike E April 30, 2020 11:56 AM  

Good to see the door being opened to sue these people. However, based on Google's 2019 revenue averaged over time, we're looking $5K/second income. A bit of a challenge. But open that legal door a bit more to squeeze through a nice "class action" lawsuit, and we're off to the races.

Blogger Gregory the Tall April 30, 2020 12:05 PM  

@16 Not so defeatist, please. If courts start seriously applying certain laws and rules to their behaviour Google may well lose - if not everything, than at least something.

Blogger RandyB April 30, 2020 12:08 PM  

The propeller migrated from the beanie to the collar.

Blogger Bibliotheca Servare April 30, 2020 1:06 PM  

Excellent news. Never thought I'd think that way, but I do. Waking up is hard, but the alternative is unacceptable.

Vox: you wrote anti-SLAAP, but meant anti-SLAPP. Unless anti-SLAAP is meant to reference "Strategic Lawsuit Against *All* Participation", as opposed to "Against *Public* Participation". In which case, I'm an idiot sperg.

Blogger Seeingsights April 30, 2020 2:09 PM  

@ Oswald

Google has not always won. Google has lost in non US courts.

Don't you remember the big fine against Google levied by the EU?

I have no time for pessimists

Blogger Cash April 30, 2020 2:15 PM  

Hopefully this means that Google will further devalue Wikipedia in it's SERPs.

Blogger crescent wrench April 30, 2020 2:57 PM  

The possible avenue for the USA would be copyright laws.

DMCA notice and takedown is premised on the idea of these sites as passive aggregators of user content via web crawls or direct submission who act in good faith to take down infringing material.

The use of advanced machine learning to suppress various dissident political opinions and figures presents the possibility of a rights holder to argue the failure to apply it to their (art ubiquitiously used, preferably by leftist activists) represents bad faith.

This angle has been mostly successful (on appeal) in Viacom v. Youtube.

Find the right plaintiff and you can produce a memepocalypse that would annihilate the main-line tech sites. Disproportionately tilt it toward lefties and/or boomers and watch the fun.

Blogger Oswald April 30, 2020 4:03 PM  

26. It is not pessimistic to point out to Custer that there are many Indians in that valley.

Blogger Gregory the Tall April 30, 2020 5:50 PM  

@oswaldyou write: 26. It is not pessimistic to point out to Custer that there are many Indians in that valley.

If Custer has the option to retreat it may be okay. If he does not have that ootion it will only undermine the morale if his men. Does one have the ootion and the time to retreat and build an alternative? Even if one pursues that option one must continue to exploit all weaknesses of the behemoth one seeks to replace.

Blogger Gregory the Tall April 30, 2020 7:09 PM  

If you want to hear how it is not the AI that accidentally produces results but the people who program the AI listen to this from yesterday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqZY_nv2Nx4
YOUNG PHARAOH INTERVIEWS ZACH VORHIES- GOOGLE WHISTLEBLOWER EXPLAINS A.I CENSORSHIP

Blogger Mike E May 01, 2020 2:36 AM  

Google has a huge revenue stream. Ripe for the taking. They see themselves as invincible. They are the "enlightened" ones. Grab a bit of that stream and use it against them.
I listen to NPR every chance I can. The Washington D.C. crowd reminds me of the French nobility at the time of the revolution. They "forgot nothing and learned nothing." Note that Trump has painted Nancy Pelosi as a modern Marie Antoinette. "Let 'em eat ice cream." Beautiful...just beautiful!

Blogger Damelon Brinn May 01, 2020 7:12 AM  

If you go into their house, you have to play by their rules.

That's why a restaurant can refuse to serve blacks, right? Private business and all, right?

Blogger Akulkis May 01, 2020 7:35 AM  

Re the interview with the Zach Vorheis.

Interesting revelation in that video -- the youtube shooter/suicide was a transvestite AND shooter's father is in Iranian intel. Zach classifies it as a false flag attack, and suggests that the shooter's suicide was also just street theater, and believes that the purpose was to intimidate Youtube. Very interesting.

Sad when in a conflict, you look at the two sides and say ... American company ... Iranian Intel... let's side with Iranian intel.

Of course, when I was young, I never thought I would see the day when a ruler of Russia (Putin) would be a bigger proponent of Christianity than even the sympathy for Christianity from one of his contemporaries in the White House (Obama).

Of course, that's was during the old Soviet Union years, and I had yet to realize that the S.U. was formed (((hijackers))) who took over Russia.

Blogger SirHamster May 01, 2020 11:26 AM  

Oswald wrote:Google will win in the end. They will always win, because its their search engine.
Seeingsights wrote:Google has not always won. Google has lost in non US courts.

Oswald wrote:26. It is not pessimistic to point out to Custer that there are many Indians in that valley.

Are you dumb enough to think people won't notice the goalpost shifting after you told the demoralizing lie that Google will always win?

You're worse than a pessimist, you're a wormtongue.

Blogger Paul M May 01, 2020 12:07 PM  

Suing these corporations for money achieves nothing. Hold the directors personally liable, extradite and imprison them. Then we will begin to see change.

Blogger Akulkis May 01, 2020 1:46 PM  

Suing them for money, and then using the money to take advantage of the upcoming mayhem/civil war is another possibility.

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