Google must honor requests to remove search results if they are clearly defaming, according to a recent Israeli District Courta holding (the District Court’s decision, in Hebrew, is available here) delivered on an appeal of the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court’s judgment from last year (the Magistrate court’s decision, in Hebrew, is available here).
The dispute in question began after Advocate Ami Savir represented the Israeli Bar Association in disciplinary proceedings against an attorney. The Bar’s disciplinary board convicted the attorney in multiple affairs of misconduct. The board’s decision was published on the website court.org.il. At some point, Advocate Savir’s name began to appear in Google’s search results, under the title “is an attorney convicted in five different affairs”. Google’s search result linked to the disciplinary decision published on court.org.il, and Advocate Savir alleged that Google’s search results give the impression that Advocate Savir is the attorney convicted in those affairs.
After the operator of court.org.il declined Advocate Savir’s request to remove the defaming content, Advocate Savir filed suit with the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, against the website’s operator and Google. The Magistrate Court delivered its decision last year, holding that the website’s operator is liable for defamation, but that “Google, as a search engine, should not be held liable for publication of content from an article published by a third party publisher-website.”
The District Court’s recent decision on appeal reversed the Magistrate Court’s holding. The District Court held that once Google had understood that the website operator “does not act to right the wrong, [Google] should have complied with the request to remove the information, as quickly as possible. Having failed to do so, [Google] cannot be granted immunity or defended from liability, just as others aren’t.” The District Court opined that the duty to remove defaming content is imposed on search engines in extraordinary circumstances like those in the present case of Advocate Savir, in which the “Notice and Takedown” process that has been widely adopted by courts in Israel, applies.
Sourced from: www.law.co.il