British lawyers seek to debunk Google's 'holier than thou' myth
Lawmakers challenging a landmark ruling that gave the search engines broad immunity from libel laws have claimed that Internet 'superpowers' such as Google have fostered a "powerful myth" that they are not responsible for problems on their websites.
The lawyers are seeking to overturn a High Court decision that Google's responsibility for online slurs was no more than that of an owner of a wall "festooned with defamatory graffiti".
The ruling in March came in a case brought by Payam Tamiz, a former Conservative Party hopeful and law student who sued Google Inc over comments on its Blogger.com platform that falsely labelled him a drug dealer and a thief, The Telegraph reports.
After he complained, there had been "considerable delay" by the internet firm before the blogger was contacted and the posts voluntarily removed, the court heard.
The judge persecuting the case reportedly accepted Google's argument that "it has no control over any of this content" and was merely a "neutral service provider".
Challenging the ruling at the Court of Appeal, Godwin Busutill, for Tamiz, argued that Blogger.com's role went beyond mere "hosting" or "storage" of information.
He argued that the judge should have found that Google was a primary publisher or at least that it was under a legal duty to act swiftly when notified of the potential libels.
Busutill added: "Little that happens on the internet is genuinely 'automatic' or 'passive'... the notion that the internet runs 'automatically' or 'passively' is in essence a powerful myth which has been fostered very successfully and profitably by internet superpowers such as Google Inc."
The hearing is set to continue.