Thursday 21 August 2014

Daniel Hegglin

Google is set to face a High Court trial in the UK this year in a cyber harassment brought by an international businessman who wants to block permanently “vile and abusive” material about him appearing in Google’s internet search results (SERPS).

Daniel Hegglin, a former Morgan Stanley banker, told the court that internet search results in Google search contained “abusive” material about his client which seems to be “increasing” and “proliferating” despite Google’s attempts to deal with the issue as it removed URLs.

Google is being sued under the UK data protection act.

“This is not a right to be forgotten case at all,” Mr Tomlinson told the court. “It’s about the circulation of abusive material.”

Mr Tomlinson told the court he likened dealing with the internet search results about his client as “playing a game of whack a mole”, describing the children’s game “where one mole pops out of a hole and you hit it and another pops up”.

David Hanks

This UK case against Google comes at a time when a business man in Thailand, David Hanks, has filed criminal indictments against Google for a 'disgusting' post on Google's 'Blogger' platform, and Albert Yeung, a Hong Kong based tycoon has similarly filed a case over 'autocomplete' entries.

Albert Yeung
Earlier this year the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that European citizens should have the right to ask internet search engines to remove embarrassing or sensitive results for queries that include their name in the so-called right to be forgotten ruling.

Mr Hegglin’s case appears to predate the ECJ ruling in May.

Andrew Caldecott QC, acting for Google, told the hearing that the internet search giant had seen the number of “right to be forgotten” requests rise in the UK from 8,000 individuals relating to 250,000 URLs to 12,000 individuals relating to 320,000 URLs in recent weeks.

Mr Caldecott told the court “This case has every look of a test case with enormous consequences”

Mr Justice Bean granted Mr Hegglin’s lawyers permission to serve the claim form on Google in California and suggested a trial could be held later in the year, and said “It is in everyone’s interest if this matter is not resolved for it to come to court sooner rather than later”.

Lawyers for Hegglin said “The claimant is simply seeking assistance from Google in blocking access to some seriously defamatory and abusive content on numerous websites being published in the UK, including websites hosted by Google.

Given the obvious unlawfulness of the material concerned, the claimant was surprised that he had to issue legal proceedings against Google to obtain an effective and lasting remedy."

The case is not the first to be brought in the UK against Google, a previous litigant in Tamiz v Google brought a case for defamation in which Google was held to be a 'sceondary publisher' in certain circumstances.


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