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Summary:

Max Mosley has for the second time won a case that forces Google to act as a censor. The search giant is appealing the ruling.

Max Mosley, the former head of Formula One racing who was caught frolicking in an S&M orgy with five German-speaking prostitutes, has notched another victory in his fight to force Google to delete records of the incident.

On Friday, a court in Hamburg reportedly ordered Google to block six pictures from its website and to pay Mosley symbolic damages of 1 euro. Google said it will appeal the decision, as it is doing with a similar one issued by a French court last fall.

The rulings comes as a bellwether for Europe’s concept of a “right to be forgotten,” and have implications for speech and internet freedoms. While people have long been able to seek removal of material from the internet for reasons like defamation or copyright, the French and German decisions are different because they force Google to act like a policeman.

Google’s position is that, while it complies with requests to remove illegal content, it shouldn’t be forced into the role of active censor. In other countries, including the U.S., Google and other internet companies are not responsible for materials posted by users (provided they comply with certain rules).

I’ve argued in the past that a “right to be forgotten” is only likely to benefit wealthy or influential people, who shouldn’t be able to destroy search results any more than they can fine bookstores for selling books that displease them.

The Mosley incident drew widespread attention in Europe upon the release of a video that showed him in a sex romp with women dressed as camp prisoners and guards. Mosley is the son of Oswald Mosley, whose father led a U.K. fascist party, and whose parents had Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels at their wedding; Max Mosley has disavowed Nazi sympathies.

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  1. You can find the same pictures on other search engines – why single out Google?

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