Google should be forced to censor search results, say British MPs

Posted in: Censorship at 27/03/2012 20:28

A cross-party committee of MPs and peers has urged the government to consider introducing legislation that would force Google to censor its search results to block material that a court has found to be in breach of someone's privacy.

In a report published today, the joint Commons and Lords committee said Google should proactively monitor its search results, highlighting evidence given by Max Mosley, the ex-Formula One boss who said he had spent at least £500,000 in 23 countries attempting to remove traces of a video filmed covertly by the News of the World from the internet.

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Google under fire in UK MPs report into privacy
An influential group of UK lawmakers has called on Google to introduce an algorithm to remove search links found to be in breach of privacy - or face legislation to force it to do so.

It follows complaints from ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley about the difficulty he faced in getting a video removed from the internet.

The search giant argued it was not its job to monitor net content.

The cross-party committee said this argument was "totally unconvincing".

Opinion: Tighter privacy laws would only serve the rich and powerful
Poor practice tends to get in the way of good intentions. During a meeting at the Foreign Office a few weeks ago, I gently reminded the decent-minded mandarins that they had a problem: Britain's role in pushing internet freedom, and freedom of expression more generally, was being undermined by our own government departments. Trouble with rioters last summer? Well, go after BlackBerry messengers, David Cameron suggested, until it was pointed out to him that this was exactly the sort of thing the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes tried to do during the Arab spring.

Now, Britain's parliamentarians, in all their familiar bluster, have come up with a new wheeze: why not order search engines to go on a giant trawl and delete - not only from their searches but from the internet itself - any material that is deemed to invade privacy?

Twitter and Google reject censorship calls
Google and Twitter have rejected calls from UK politicians to put in place additional measures to stop people breaking Ryan Giggs-style privacy injunctions online, saying it would be impossible to censor material on the web effectively.

"Requiring search engines to screen the content of their web pages would be like asking phone companies to listen in on every call made across their networks for potentially suspicious activity," Google said on Tuesday. "Google already remove specific pages deemed unlawful by the courts. We have a number of simple tools anyone can use to report such content, which we then remove from our index."

MPs call for Google to block privacy-breaching results
Search engines should filter out private information protected by a court injunction so that UK viewers cannot see it, a parliamentary committee has urged.

If the company does not move to comply with such court orders, the government should bring in a law to force search engines to filter results for restricted material, the Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions said in a report on Tuesday.

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