A rogue blogger who named two women accused of having affairs with Network Seven boss Tim Worner has been jailed for four months for contempt of court, after a judge found his conduct "borders on obsession". In a judgment delivered on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison said Shane Dowling "flagrantly" and "enthusiastically" breached non-publication orders in naming the women on his website. Photo: YOUTUBE Blogger Shane Dowling is serving a four-month prison sentence for contempt. He was led from the court in handcuffs by three corrective services officers. The women, given the pseudonyms Jane Doe 1 and 2, were named in court documents during the height of the legal battle between Mr. Worner and his former lover Amber Harrison. Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner. Photo: Ben Rushton The women strenuously denied the allegations and their names were suppressed by the court ahead of their defamation proceedings. Supreme Court Justice Ian Harrison found Dowling guilty on March 15 of contempt of court after he flouted court orders to remove the names of the women from his website and refrain from re-publishing the allegations. The court heard Dowling had published fresh stories naming the women as recently as July 15. During the sentencing on Thursday, Justice Harrison told Dowling: "If you are currently publishing matters on your phone ... I'd ask you to stop." "OK then," Dowling replied. Justice Harrison said Dowling had "deliberately set out to disobey" the court's orders. He said Dowling appeared to see himself as a "fierce proponent of free speech" and was "ferociously committed to the righteousness" of his views. Justice Harrison said Dowling's "enthusiasm for the cause as he perceives it borders on obsession" but he was "nonetheless to my observation a man of some intelligence who doubtless appreciates the proper legal foundation for his contempt". "It is regrettable that his written protestations elide self-righteous indignation with innocence," he said of Dowling's submissions to the court. Justice Harrison said it was an "available inference" that Dowling sought "to benefit from the publication of the ... [women's] names by attracting public interest to his website and by soliciting financial support". "It is a further available conclusion that he seeks to draw attention to his defiance of the court orders, as a way to gain sympathy and notoriety or simply public attention, which he apparently perceives as being a benefit to him, perhaps because he considers it will increase his public profile," he said. In submissions to the court, Dowling said he believed he would be classified "correctly" as a "political prisoner" by social media users if he was jailed. Dowling wrote that he had done "nothing more than any journalist does everyday [sic] around the country", as the women's names "were in legal documents". But Justice Harrison said he had "done more" than journalists do on a daily basis and had disobeyed court orders to remove the offending articles. A spokesman for Seven said the women "had been falsely accused by Amber Harrison of having relationships with Tim Worner". "The blogger himself had no defense or evidence to support his defamatory articles and didn't check for accuracy and had no relevant defense as to why he breached the court's orders," the spokesman said.
The web’s hive mind has a long memory — and a mean streak — which can be a serious problem for anyone trying to move past an ugly divorce, a criminal record, a bankruptcy or a foolish mistake. For years, officials turned a blind eye to the problem, declaring the web a wild and unruly frontier. But now, two decades after the advent of Google (the domain google.com was registered on Sept. 15, 1997), courts and regulators are increasingly asking the question: Should the internet’s cache of damaging personal data be made to disappear at some point? Or should it remain in place forever, burned onto the online presence of the once guilty like some kind of digital scarlet letter? Those who argue for a best-before date call it “the right to be forgotten” and say it should be a fundamental tenet of the digital age. But free speech advocates contend that enshrining the right in law will diminish the revolutionary power of the web by creating “black holes” where information can disappear. “There are two competing interests at the heart of almost everything that goes on online,” says Montreal lawyer Allen Mendelsohn, an internet law specialist. “In the simplest terms: It’s your right to your reputation versus the other person’s right to freedom of expression.” Europe and Argentina are among the jurisdictions that have already recognized an individual’s right to be forgotten.The issue has played out for years in Europe, where regulators are now wrestling with the thorny question of how to enforce removal orders on the transnational, shape-shifting web. In May 2014, the European Union’s highest court ruled that Google must remove links to damaging personal information deemed inadequate, irrelevant or excessive. The ruling — based on the complaint of a Spanish man who wanted Google to remove links to a 1998 news story about his bankruptcy —said search engines were data “controllers,” not just neutral conduits, and therefore had a responsibility to cleanse unfair and damaging information. In its wake, Google received a deluge of requests for cache removals from EU residents: more than 735,000 people filled out the company’s digital application form.It has since delisted 1.1 million search results inside the EU, according to the company’s public transparency report. France’s data protection agency, however, said that wasn’t good enough, and it has ordered Google to censor those same links worldwide so that someone conducting a search in Canada, for instance, couldn’t find information unavailable in the EU. (Google Search uses different domains for different countries: Canada is http://www.google.ca, Germany is http://www.google.de, Spain is http://www.google.es, Australia is http://www.google.com.au, the U.S. is http://www.google.com.) The company says the case has profound implications for the free flow of digital information.Google has challenged the order to France’s Conseil d’Etat, which in July referred the issue to the EU’s top court. “If French law applies globally, how long will it be until other countries – perhaps less open and democratic – start demanding that their laws regulating information likewise have global reach?” Google general counsel Kent Walker wrote in a recent blog post. Information that is legal in one country, he said, is verboten in another: “Thailand outlaws insults to its king; Brazil outlaws negative campaigning in political elections; Turkey outlaws speeches that denigrates Ataturk or the Turkish nation.” He warned that the case, if upheld, could trigger “a global race to the bottom.” Google is already in an uncomfortable situation. By recognizing the right to be forgotten, European courts have handed the multinational the judge-like responsibility of weighing individual privacy rights against the public’s right to know. Google officials have reviewed more than two million EU web addresses (URLs), and have decided to remove 56.9 per cent of them. The company provides examples of the decisions it faces, but it does not set out hard and fast rules for removals, nor does it explain how its officials balance public versus private interests. The Global Commission on Internet Governance, an independent think-tank led by former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, decried that state of affairs in a 2016 report: “Private companies — as opposed to courts and legislatures — are only accountable to their shareholders; they should not be the arbitrator on how to weigh fundamental rights and public interests.” Courts around the world are now wrestling with issues raised by privacy on the internet, and Canada is no exception. In January, the Federal Court of Canada issued a judgment that excoriated Sebastian Radulescu, the owner of the website Globe24h.com, as someone who “has essentially made a business of exploiting the privacy of individuals for profit.”
YANGON: A social media user in Myanmar has been given a six-month sentence for defaming de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, despite calls from civil society organizations to amend the country’s notorious defamation laws, reports Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA). Zaw Zaw (aka Ngaphar) was arrested in October and charged under section 66(d) of the Telecommunication Law for posting text and photos on Facebook that were considered defamatory toward State Counselor Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw. A court in North Dagon Township of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, handed him the jail sentence with hard labor, according to police Tuesday. “He was taken to the Insein Central Prison to serve his jail term,” Than Htut Naing, a local police officer at North Dagon Police Station, told Anadolu Agency. Though the once self-isolated country is now ruled by a civilian government led by Suu Kyi, rights groups warn of an escalation in the suppression of opposition critics by state authorities. According to a campaign led by a group of civil society activists most of whom were imprisoned under the law – lawsuits over “defamatory” Facebook posts about state leaders and public social affairs are on the rise. At least 43 cases have been filed under section 66(d) during the current government, which took office in March 2016, according to activist Maung Saung Kha, who was imprisoned for a post in 2015. “It is terrible that the elected government is still using this article that intends to shut the mouth of the public,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone Tuesday. The group is calling on the government and Parliament to amend the section, which criminalizes defamation on the Internet with a penalty of up to three years in prison. “We have submitted our recommendations and researches about that section to parliament,” Maung Saung Kha said. “The section should no longer exist as freedom of expression is vital in democracy.”
Why Trump’s threat to sue the New York Times for libel will not succeed. Last Thursday, following publication of a New York Times story describing Donald Trump’s unwanted sexual touching of two women, Trump and his lawyers threatened to sue the Times for libel. In a letter to Trump’s attorney, the Times defended the story as “newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern” and told Trump that if he did not agree, it would be happy to meet him in court. Legal experts agree that there is no merit to Trump’s threatened lawsuit. Trump could never win a libel suit against the Times. He would lose not only because he would have a difficult time proving that the allegations were false, but also because he has no chance of showing “actual malice”—that the Times published the statements with “reckless disregard” of the truth. To show reckless disregard, Trump would have to prove that the Times knew or had strong reason to believe the story was false and published it anyway. View image on TwitterFollowThe New York Times ✔@nytimesThe NYT's lawyer responded to a request from Donald Trump's lawyer to retract an article http://nyti.ms/2e8SnYW 1:48 PM - 13 Oct 2016 3,2563,256 Retweets5,6685,668 likes Demonstrating reckless disregard of the truth is a requirement imposed by the Constitution. The Supreme Court announced this in a landmark 1964 libel case, New York Times v. Sullivan, one of the most important First Amendment cases in history. The reckless disregard standard was designed to protect the media from a threat that was all too common in those days: public figures attempting to use libel law to punish the media for unfavorable coverage, and to silence the press—exactly what Trump is trying to do. Libel law protects reputations against statements that are defamatory and false. Prior to the Sullivan decision, libel law tended to prioritize reputational rights over the rights of the press. A libel plaintiff did not have to prove that a defamatory statement was false or show that his reputation had actually been harmed. The falsity of the statement was assumed; if a publisher wanted to avoid liability, it would have to prove the statement’s truth, which could be expensive and difficult. Libel law was “strict liability,” meaning that a publisher could be liable for any false statement, even if the errors were benign, minor or innocent. Before the 1960s, libel law posed a real threat to the press. Despite efforts by publishers and their lawyers to screen publications for potentially libelous material, newspapers and magazines were regularly confronted with libel suits, and some were even bankrupted by libel judgments. The New York World and the New York Evening Graphic were run out of business by such suits in the 1930s. Journalism textbooks urged reporters to “lean over backwards” to avoid writing anything that “might possibly be construed as libelous,” and to avoid “any words to which offense might be taken.” For decades, press lawyers tried unsuccessfully to obtain a Supreme Court ruling restricting liability on constitutional grounds. Before the 1960s, libel law posed a real threat to the press. The “libel nightmare,” as publishers dubbed it, became even more frightening in the 1950s. In 1953 the American Newspaper Publishers’ Association reported that libel suits were on the rise; the number had grown by several hundred percent in recent years. With the Red Scare, a nascent civil rights movement, and acerbic media attacks on public figures, aggrieved politicians and public officials were mobilizing libel law to intimidate and coerce the press. New York Times v. Sullivan came out of this climate. The case involved an advertisement placed in the New York Times by a civil rights group. The ad detailed the efforts of officials in Montgomery, Alabama—including police commissioner L.B. Sullivan—to suppress civil rights protests. The ad was mostly true, but there were a few minor errors. Sullivan alleged that the Times, in publishing the ad, defamed him. An Alabama trial court awarded half a million dollars, upheld by the state’s supreme court. Southern opponents of the civil rights movement had discovered the power of libel law as a weapon against the press. The day after the verdict in Sullivan, the Alabama Journal predicted that the award could “have the effect of causing reckless publishers of the North to make a re-survey of their habit of permitting anything detrimental to the South and its people to appear in their columns.” For its civil rights reporting, the New York Times was defending itself in ten separate libel lawsuits by Southern officials claiming more than $6 million in damages. The Times withdrew its reporters from Alabama and might have gone out of business if it had been forced to pay the judgments. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice William Brennan, reversed the judgment. The Court wanted to protect the civil rights movement; the justices were also worried about the recent uptick in political libel suits and its implications for news reporting. For the first time, the Court recognized that libel raised a First Amendment issue and that libel law, as it then existed, infringed on constitutionally protected publishing rights. In stirring and eloquent language, Brennan described the right of the public to criticize its leaders as the essence of democracy—the “central meaning” of the First Amendment. The Court recognized that libel raised a First Amendment issue and that libel law, as it then existed, infringed on constitutionally protected publishing rights. Sullivan eliminated strict liability in libel cases involving public officials. Critical news coverage was protected by the First Amendment even if erroneous, so long as the errors were not made with “actual malice”—with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard of their truth or falsity. “Erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and … must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the ‘breathing space’ that they need … to survive,” Brennan wrote. The press should have “Erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and … must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the ‘breathing space’ that they need … to survive,” Brennan wrote. The press should have latitude to make mistakes in reporting; it was impossible to ensure complete accuracy, and to penalize the press for innocent or negligent errors would impair its ability to report the news. Newsworthy » tells the story of how American law and culture struggled to define and reconcile the right of privacy and rights of the press at a critical point in history. The Court also took issue with the presumption of falsity and the defendant’s burden to prove the truth. “A rule compelling the critic of official conduct to guarantee the truth of all his factual assertions—and to do so on pain of libel judgments virtually unlimited in amount—leads to … ‘self-censorship,’” Brennan wrote. After Sullivan, plaintiffs would have the responsibility of proving the falsity of allegedly libelous statements. It was a major victory for the press—and the public. “‘Publish and be damned!’ is a brave slogan that most newspaper editors aspire to in principle,” wrote Newsweek shortly after the decision. “Publish and be sued, however, has long been a fact of journalistic life…. [t]he Supreme Court handed down a decision that greatly strengthens American journalism.” It certainly was not the end of libel, but it may have been the end of the “libel nightmare.” Donald Trump is free to force the Times to defend itself in court—and to send as many threatening letters as he wants. The First Amendment does not protect the press against those kinds of burdens. But it does protect the press from the kinds of crippling libel judgments over political news coverage that had been all too frequent not so long ago. Trump can sue the Times, but he cannot win. If Trump wants to convince the public of his version of reality he will have to do so not by quashing the press, but by successfully selling his views to Americans in the marketplace of ideas. Samantha Barbas is Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo Law School. She is the author of several books including, most recently, Laws of Image: Privacy and Publicity in America and Newsworthy: The Supreme Court Battle over Privacy and Press Freedom (forthcoming).
Aleksej Gubarev is suing Buzzfeed and editor Ben Smith after they named him in the unverified Trump dossier that alleges his company helped hack the DNC. A Russian tech executive is suing Buzzfeed and editor Ben Smith after they named him in the unverified Trump dossier that alleges his company helped hack the DNC. Aleksej Gubarev is the CEO of XBT which hosts websites and also owns Webzilla. He also named former spy Christopher Steele and his company Orbis Business Intelligence in London as defendants in the lawsuit. The suit claims Gubarev was falsely accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee. It does not specifically say what damages Gubarev is seeking, but it says it has hurt him personally and professionally. Gubarev also told CNN Money his wife is harassed online because of the documents and he fears for his three children's safety. After Gubarev filed the defamation suit in Broward County, Florida, on Friday Buzzfeed redacted any mention of his name on the dossier on the website. It says neither Smith or anyone from Buzzfeed reached out to Gubarev to verify if any of the information about him was true. A spokesperson for Buzzfeed told the station: 'We have redacted Mr Gubarev's name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it.' Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4191460/Russian-tech-exec-sues-Buzzfeed-defamation.html#ixzz4XsgkXqjM
BuzzFeed and its editor Ben Smith are being sued by a Russian technology tycoon who was named in the so-called “dirty dossier” against President Donald Trump.
online reputation management agenciesby Chris Silver Smith At the end of December, I reported at Search Engine Land on what what seems to have been a major change in Google’s internal policy. (See: Paradigm shift: Has Google suspended defamation removals?) Google has effectively begun to decline requests to remove defamation from its web search results, although it has been honoring those takedown requests for many years now, when accompanied by properly-executed court orders. While I phrased the title of that article “Has Google…” and ended with a question mark, the reality is that the company has completely stopped removing URLs for defamation. The Search Engine Land editors and I opted for that interrogative title phrasing because Google declined to make any official statement about the matter. This lack of transparency around this has created a lot of consternation among attorneys who deal with online defamation, along with their clients — I polled a number of attorneys across the country and consistently found they had all encountered a change in their dealings with Google in the past few months. It seems that some stuff that was already being processed prior to Google’s apparent policy change may still be acted upon, but most new requests are getting denied with no reason provided. As I outlined in the article, the past year has seen some significant news around alleged instances of frauds perpetrated upon courts by attorneys and/or online reputation management agencies. I cited claims made by Pissed Consumer about court orders obtained to remove their pages based upon “stooge defendants” and fake/sham lawsuits. A number of readers subsequently brought to my attention a series of other articles on the matter by Paul Alan Levy and Eugene Volokh where they had identified a number of other lawsuits that centered around similarly suspect defendants, and the goal seemed to be to engineer a quicker and easier path to obtaining court orders to remove pages from search results:“Georgia Dentist Mitul Patel Takes Phony Litigation Scheme to New Extremes Trying to Suppress Criticism“ – August 19, 2016“A suspicious strategy in alleged online libel cases?“ – August 19, 2016“Dozens of suspicious court cases, with missing defendants, aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed“ – October 10, 2016“Lawsuit against lawyers who allegedly filed improper lawsuits aimed at getting Internet criticism deindexed by Google“ – October 31, 2016“More on lawsuits against seemingly fake defendants, aimed at hiding online criticism“ – November 22, 2016“People trying to get Google to deindex professional news site articles“ – December 14, 2016From the listing of cases outlined in these articles, one might well assume that perhaps all defamation removal requests submitted to Google could have been similarly trumped-up on artificially-engineered defendants and court orders. But, that’s not so. There are plenty of highly-ethical attorneys who take their responsibilities seriously and have submitted real, valid, properly-executed court orders to Google requesting removal of URLs that falsely defame people and companies. Victims and their attorneys are unlikely to publicize when they prevail in legal cases and takedown requests, because attracting publicity to such activity could well induce the Streisand Effect, undermining the reparative activities they’ve undertaken in improving their reputations. So, if it wasn’t clear from my article, Google has suspended most takedowns from the goodguys now, as well as from the bad. Eric Goldman has also pointed out that Google’s legal department may be looking beyond just their own cases involving takedowns, such as in a case decided upon by the California Court of Appeal back in June of 2016, where Yelp was ordered to remove reviews that were found to be defamatory. (See “Yelp Forced To Remove Defamatory Reviews – Hassell v. Bird“.) The Hassell v. Bird case involved an instance where a trial court had found in favor of the plaintiff that a review was defamatory and the defendant defaulted — did not show up to defend against the accusations. Yelp complained that they were being ordered to take action despite not being a party in the original case, arguing that they should have been able to contest some of the claims in that earlier litigation. The appeal court’s opinion seemed to enable a path whereby some defamation claimants might be able to exert legal pressure to make (California-based) content-distributor companies remove stuff with court orders obtained through ex parte / default judgments of the very sort that were investigated and reported on in the Volokh and Levy articles where such judgments were obtained with the apparent goal of removing defamatory content from Google web search. Goldman, who appears to be an apologist/defender of Section 230 protections, makes some points about how the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Hassell v. Bird case seems a bit circuitous in arriving at making Yelp more accountable for a third-party’s reviews posted there in light of the CDA protections for user-generated content sites, all while ignoring that the defendant might be legally compelled and able to remove the offending reviews themselves without requiring Yelp’s intervention. (I simplify — Goldman outlines a number of different legal contentions involved in this case.) From a legal standpoint, Goldman seems to make some good points, although I disagree that default judgments are necessarily an “unreliable” path to justice — since there are instances precisely like Hassell v. Bird where a defamation case defendant will decline to appear in court — if someone can avoid court costs and potential loss of a case by merely not showing up, everyone would do this — critics of ex parte cases neatly avoid proposing alternatives. But, the aspect we’re interested in is whether Google and other Section 230 protected sites and service providers might find cause for concern by the appeal court decision. Some are speculating that the decision in that case influenced Google’s move to halt court-ordered defamation removals. However, it’s clear that Google has already historically considered itself immune under Section 230 regarding defamation removal court orders, and I can’t see them putting the breaks on their voluntary removals policy merely to abruptly start making a legal point — no, this was much more likely to have been done as a response to the handful of cases where defendants may have been faked-up in order to short-circuit the legal process and obtain court orders to fuel takedowns in a cheaper manner or in instances where there would have otherwise been no legal basis for a defamation finding. Google’s move seems to communicate that they may have become frustrated with an inability to discern valid, well-executed defamation removal requests from those bad ones that have been trumped-up through unethical means. This is unfortunate, because, as I had described, Google’s abrupt policy change is a terrible development for present and future defamation victims. People who have been damaged by outright lies, fabrications, exaggerations and malicious publication of private personal information suffer loss of business, inability to obtain employment, and difficulties in making new relationships. This is often not a situation where justice is being meted-out in terms of people necessarily deserving to have a bad reputation. I think the staunch defenders of Section 230 protections would do well to recognize the suffering of individuals and businesses when there’s absolutely no avenue for relief. While the economic advantages of keeping costs lower for companies is certainly a valid and admirable concern, that also needs some degree of balance rather than the apparent attitude that victims in these cases are some form of acceptable collateral damage in return for us all being able to search for celeb images and use our iPhones. As I opined in the Search Engine Land article, these companies already have substantial staff devoted to processing legal removal applications for bigger business interests like copyright violations, and there are potential ways user-generated content sites could save on processing legal removal requests. This is not an either-or scenario where we must choose between victims of false accusations and companies providing useful services. What one would hope would be for Google to simply limit the granting of removal requests by only suspending consideration for the attorneys and legal cases involved in unethical manipulation, similar to how the company penalizes websites that are found to be using black-hat SEO methods and spamming the search engine. Google has differentiated websites that are bad players versus good through many sophisticated methods. One would wish that they would apply similar sophistication towards evaluation of defamation removals, too, and not slam shut the door to relief for all victims. One also rather hopes and expects that complaints might be filed against attorneys and other individuals that have cooperated in schemes to deceive the courts — what appears to have been done in some instances is serious enough to merit criminal penalties. The entire community has an interest in removing the bad players from the equation. Meanwhile, as things currently stand, the only viable option for defamation and reputation attack victims will be to contract with the services of reputable online reputation management (a.k.a. “ORM”) firms and work towards displacing the negative materials with positive or neutral things. UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has now written an article reporting on my article and also commenting on it. In my article, I stated clearly that Google suspended their approvals, but not in every single instance — he quotes the Techdirt article about my article, saying “Google seems to have stopped responding to defamation lawsuit orders,” and he says that characterization is “something of an overstatement”. Like him, my contacts at Google also state they haven’t completely halted, and attorneys involved say a little activity is still happening. But, from the samples of cases I’ve seen, there are legit cases getting denied, just as I had described.
Several attorneys who specialize in Internet defamation law say that search engine Bing has recently changed its policy and is no longer complying with court-ordered removals of defamatory content. Such court-ordered removals are often requested as part of defamation lawsuits by reputation management attorneys, and obtained on behalf of a person or business. Removal orders are a useful tool to combat against sites such as Ripoff Report and other complaint sites based offshore, which usually refuse to remove defamatory content from their websites under any circumstances. Although the content may remain on the website, if a person or business is able to obtain a valid court order against the author of the post, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo will usually agree to permanently remove the page from its search indices. Reputation attorneys have had great success using this method in the past. After all, it is more important for negative results to be removed from search engines than from a site very few people would search on. If the negative content can’t be found, there is not much to worry about. However, lately it seems that Bing, which also powers Yahoo’s search results, is no longer complying with defamatory content removal requests.Bing’s Official Policy on Defamatory RemovalsSeveral prominent Internet reputation attorneys I’ve spoken with said that Bing previously accepted removal orders, and allege that Bing has recently unofficially changed its policy quietly and no longer does. Nothing has officially changed, anyway. According to this Bing help page, Bing’s policy on defamatory content removals is: “We may remove displayed search results containing allegedly defamatory content. For example, we might remove a displayed search result if we receive a valid and narrow court order indicating that a particular link has been found to be defamatory.”Evidence to the ContraryInternet defamation attorney Aaron Minc, recently received a denial letter from Bing on his request to remove defamatory URLs based on a court order. The full copy of the letter has been posted on Minc’s Blog. After speaking with Minc further, he explained why he was surprised by Bing’s apparent change in policy regarding court order removals. “In the past, I have submitted court orders to Bing on multiple occasions to request removal of URLs from its search index that contains defamation,” Minc said. “The court orders are narrowly defined, they specify the exact URLs that we want to be removed, and they include what specific language in the URLs we want to be removed is defamatory. “I have never previously had a court order rejected by Bing. I found it particularly surprising that the Bing chose to reject the court order that I submitted given the circumstances underlying the case.” The order stemmed from a case involving two ex-employees of a company, who demanded that their ex-employer pay them $150,000 or that they were going to absolutely ruin their business to the point that they would have to change their name and industry. Their plan almost worked. When the company refused to pay, the employees took to posting dozens of slanderous and horribly detrimental lies about the company and its owners on websites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer, labeling the company as a scam and falsely accusing the business of committing several state and federal laws and stealing from its employees. The business quickly began to lose profits and customers. After over a year of extremely contentious and hard fought litigation, the ex-employees and company finally agreed to settle the matter. In the court-ordered settlement signed by both parties, the two ex-employees admitted that the content they posted was false and agreed to have the content removed from web pages and search indices, along with posting redactions to their statements. “Bing’s response was extremely disappointing,” Minc said. “I just don’t understand why Bing decided to suddenly change its policy, when it seemed to have no problem assisting victims of defamation in the past who obtained valid court orders. “A lot of businesses and individuals really relied on Bing’s prior actions and policy, and are going to suffer significant harm from its change in policy. Google had no problem removing every URL we requested to be taken down.” Minc recently published a follow-up post stating that he has received calls from several other attorneys and individuals who are upset about the new policy change.More Removal Requests Rejected by BingInternet lawyer Aaron Kelly has had a similar experience. Mr. Kelly has submitted dozens of court orders to Bing in the past to remove defamatory URLs from its search index without issue. Now, Bing has rejected every single court order that he has recently submitted. “What’s most surprising about Bing’s apparent change in policy is that the company is rejecting court orders that it previously has accepted in the past,” Kelly said. Earlier this year, the website Ripoff Report re-indexed all of the content on its website, which slightly changed the URLs of all of the content posted on the site. Because of the re-index, content on Ripoff Report URLs that Bing had previously agreed to remove from its search index after being provided a valid court order, are now re-appearing in its search engine results. According to Kelly, Bing is refusing to continue to remove the exact same content on the new URLs. Kelly is equally surprised and disappointed by Bing’s policy developments as Minc. “I just don’t get it,” Kelly said. “This is causing significant harm to my clients.”
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 … Continue reading Google to Remove Defaming Search Results as per Israeli District Court Request