Devastating Impact Of Court Ruling On Defamatory Hyperlinks

Google says it will be forced to censor search results if court ruling stands.
SIA Team
January 24, 2022

Google says it will be forced to censor search results if the court ruling for liability of defamatory material contained in hyperlinked pages stands.

Google put out this warning to the High Court of Australia if the $40,000 defamation is not overturned.

devastating impact of court ruling on defamatory hyperlinks google warns

George Defteros successfully sued Google because a 2004 article about his arrest on conspiracy to murder charges defamed him. It’s important to note that his charges of conspiracy to murder were dropped.

In 2016, Defteros’ lawyers contacted Google to have them remove the article due to false claims. Google refused.

Google warned if the judgment stands, “Google will be liable as the publisher of any matter published on the web to which its search results provide a hyperlink”. Google would then have to block that content for everyone.

Google argued it should be entitled to the “innocent disseminator” defense.

Google further argues that individual websites should be liable. Since Google is not the publisher and “a hyperlink is not, in and of itself, the communication of that to which it links”, it should not be held liable.

If the ruling is not overturned, “Google will be required to act as a censor by excluding any webpage about which complaint is made from its search results, even when, as here, the webpage may be a matter of legitimate interest to the substantial portion of people who search for it and is published by a reputable news source.”

Read more on this and other related lawsuits against Google.