In response to court orders, Yahoo and Google are censoring search results in Argentina about a variety of celebrities, including public officials, models, actors, and sports stars. According to an in depth article on OpenNet Initiative, this has been going on since 2006 and more than 100 people have succeeded in getting Google and Yahoo to filter search results in Argentina.
Astonishingly, a search on Yahoo Argentina for [Diego Maradona] — one of the world’s most well known soccer stars and the current national team head coach — produces zero results, along with a message from Yahoo that’s roughly translated as follows:
“On the occasion of a court order sought by private parties, we have been forced to temporarily remove some or all of the search results relating to it.”
According to OpenNet, both Google and Yahoo are following court orders to filter their search results, but only Yahoo is completely scrubbing search results (as seen above). The article says both search engines have appealed the court orders that force them to block search results and have been fined on occasion for not following court orders closely enough.
The article goes on to explain that all of the individuals who are seeking to have web pages removed from search results are represented by one lawyer, Martin Leguizamon Peña, who claims to have an 80% success rate in getting the court to force Google and Yahoo into blocking search results for his clients:
“Peña is reportedly obtaining new restraining orders for the same clients, week after week, with revised lists of websites, articles, blogs, and keywords that must be blocked. Many of the orders contain specific web pages to be blocked, however, some also ambiguously order the search engines to block all sites containing defamatory or scandalous portrayals of Peña’s clients. It is then presumably up to Yahoo! and Google to determine which content is defamatory — a task that neither company wishes to or is qualified to perform.”
The OpenNet article takes Yahoo to task for waiting until this week to add the explanation of why search results are blocked. It also points out that Argentinian searchers can use other Spanish-language search engines, such as Yahoo Mexico or Yahoo Spain, or Google’s country-specific search engines in Mexico and Spain, to find information about the individuals who’ve successfully fought to have Google and Yahoo censor results for their names.