Google has gone to great lengths to defend free speech, and has protected a lot of questionable material (posted by users) on both Orkut and Blogger. It appears that Google draws the line at death threats, however, as a blog containing threats against a New Zealand politician was shut down this morning.
When Radio New Zealand News talked to Google spokesperson Victoria Grand, Grand said that “the online forum has repeatedly violated the rules,” and that “Google has the right to remove websites which threaten violence against another person and which reveal people’s home addresses.” The statements effectively play into the company’s “do no evil” image.
Yet the Sydney Morning Herald alleges that the blog was only closed “after weeks of complaint by New Zealand authorities,” as if it was persistent badgering, instead of a good heart, which motivated the company. On the other hand, this version of events would allow Google to keep its reputation as a defender of free speech.
Either way, the blog is gone. Described as being “run by critics of the country’s government-run Child Youth and Family (CYF) service which is responsible for removing children from homes for care and protection,” the blog now shows up with just the word “NONE” against a blank black background.
Oh, and the politician who was threatened seems to have handled the situation admirably. “Green Party MP Sue Bradford said she refused to be intimidated . . . ,” Radio New Zealand reported. “Ms Bradford would not say whether she is under police protection, but says she is treading carefully.”