Google Sued In UK For Defamatory Postings In Search Results

Google sued over defamatory postings found on web search from The Independent reports that the company could be held liable for the publication of inaccurate, malicious or damaging material on the internet, even though Google did not create the content and is simply listing what’s found on the web.

The plaintiff, Brian Retkin, claims he was wrongly accused in anonymous forum postings of making a profit on the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Retkin said he has been trying to get Google to remove the listings for three years.

“There comes a point,” said Mr Retkin, “when someone must take responsibility for this material. These allegations were posted anonymously so there is no way of suing the author. Where it has appeared on internet discussion forums we have asked them to remove it but it keeps popping up again at other internet addresses. The only solution is for Google to remove it and give an undertaking they will remove it permanently.”

Retkin is not the first to sue Google over how listing impacts reputation.

Google: Sued Again Over “Bad” Listing covers how an accountant lost a case where searches relating to his business came back with listings suggesting he was disciplined for negligence. That same article covers how in a separate action, a building contractor is going after Google allegedly harming his reputation.

Google Wins KinderStart Case Over Site Penalty covers how KinderStart sued that NOT showing up in Google for particular queries was harming its reputation. That case failed.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Legal: General


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Michael Martinez

    UK and Commonwealth law handle Internet defamation much more sensibly than U.S. law but I doubt he can make a real case against a search engine. At the very least, people should not set their expectations on the basis of precedents established in the U.S. courts.

  • Seth Finkelstein

    Apparently he knows the legal issues. He’s got a detailed press release:

    “Why Does Google Publish Libel?”

  • Michael Martinez

    I am impressed with his results outside of the U.S. Given just how much intentionally false information is published on the Internet every day, it looks to me like Google has become the de facto policeman of the non-U.S. Internet.

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