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Google warns against being forced to censor the Internet




Google has warned of a devastating impact on the Internet if a court ruling that the search giant is responsible for defamatory material on pages with hyperlinks is not overturned.


The company warned in a Supreme Court brief that it might have to monitor the results of its research if attorney George DeViteros was allowed to receive $40,000 in damages for defamation.


DeViteros successfully sued Google. He argued that his publication of the search results, which included a 2004 article about his arrest on charges of conspiring to kill the accused, was well-public.

Supreme Court Justice Melinda Richards ruled in 2020 that the article implied that DeViteros had gone from a professional lawyer to a friend and confidant of criminal elements.


The Victorian Court of Appeal rejected a request from Google to overturn the result. DeViteros' lawyers contacted the search company in 2016 demanding that the article be removed. But Google refused on the grounds that the source of the article was reputable.


Google's lawyers told the Supreme Court that the notice contained false allegations that DeViteros had sued the source of the article for defamation and that the source of the article had agreed to remove it from his website.


Google warned that it may be responsible as the publisher of any material posted on the web whose results provide a hyperlink to search.


Google warns of devastating impact if the court ruling is not overturned


The technology company argued that it was not a publisher of the material because hyperlinking did not in itself represent a transfer of its associated relationship.


Google said websites should be responsible if hyperlink actually repeats the defamatory assumption that it is associated with.


It also asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the defense of conditional privilege. She believed that her users had a legitimate interest in accessing the material.


The court in 2018 gave the green light to defamation claims against search engines. Milorad Turkolga sued Google for a series of allegedly defamatory images and findings.


In September last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Dylan Fuller case that social media users were responsible as publishers for defamatory comments from outside on their social media posts.


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