British MPs Want Google To Self-Censor Search Results

    March 27, 2012

A gang of parliament members are currently trying to convince the British government to introduce legislation that would essentially charge Google with the herculean task of censoring search results from containing material that a court deems is a violation of somebody’s privacy. The Members of Parliament, or MPs, basically think Google controls the internet and have therefore published a how-to manual for what Google should do to reel in some search results.

Part of the MPs thinking stems from this guy, Max Mosley, who, in the grand tradition of Republican primary presidential candidate Rick Santorum, has something of a Google problem. He doesn’t like it and has in fact spent some considerable resources in numerous countries to remove evidence of a private video of his that was leaked to the internet. But really, he and now these MPs think that Google should be the one cleaning up the internet.

It’s a slippery request the MPs are asking for because binding Google to remove all search results of material deemed to have been shared via someone’s privacy breach would assuredly open up a can of wormy litigation from all fronts.

Rebuking the criticism of the MPs, Google argued that filtered search results would “threaten the unfettered flow of information online.” More specifically, were Google required to ban search results that were deemed by a court to violate someone’s privacy, how far would the waves caused by that heavy stone ripple across the internet? One would have to assume that, at least in some way, court-mandated search filters would practically neuter Google’s Search Plus Your World, the company’s personalized integration that includes content like Google+ profiles and photos into search results.

Google already complies with courts whenever pages are deemed unlawful, but this sort of moderation could take censoring Google to wild new frontiers. Can you even conceive of what extensive work would be required to remove a single strand of data from all Google results? I mean, take for example if that Kardashian girl decided she wanted footage of that flour bombing (or other internet things she’s known for…) removed from Google’s search results? Not only would such an arduous task be highly regressive but would it even be possible given how the internet has been designed?

More, if Google is found to be responsible for filtering and moderating the content found on its search results, we can presume that such a mandate would apply to Google’s sites, like YouTube. A legal precedent asserting that Google is responsible for the content uploaded by users of its sites could also have really punishing ramifications for Google in its legal battle with Viacom.

And then the internet just all goes to hell from there, really.

(Via The Guardian.)