Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can a Swede Sue Google for 'Libelous' Links? Of Norse He Can

Swedish MeatballsImage by wEnDaLicious via Flickr
A 61-year-old Swedish businessperson has sued Google for defamation, claiming that a Google search results of his name led to blogs that falsely portray him as a pedophile.

The plaintiff is seeking a million kroner ($135,021) from the Internet search behemoth for negative publicity he and his business purportedly have sustained because of the linked-to information. The businessperson has also alerted police regarding who he suspects is spreading the allegedly defamatory gossip about him.

In the U.S., the individual who initiated the allegedly libelous claims would be exposed to legal liability, but Google, which indexes, rather than publishes data, would likely be protected by Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which says the user or provider of an interactive computer service can't be considered the publisher or speaker of information provided by another information content provider.

It's a bumpier ride for Google internationally, as the company learned when it was held liable for invasion of privacy by an Italian court (see "TUOL" post 2/25/10), and in 2008, when it was socked by a Brazilian court with an $8,500 fine for a social networking site posting that accused a priest of being a pedophile.

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