Google Fights Order to Remove Lewd Images

Dennis Faas's picture

A court has ordered Google to remove all links to embarrassing images of an automotive industry icon. Google is appealing the verdict in a case that raises questions about legal, technical, and geographical restrictions on the Internet.

The case centers on Max Mosley, previously the head of the Formula 1 racing circuit. In 2008, a British newspaper published photographs of Mosley in an intimate setting with several women.

Mosley took the case to court and successfully argued that a breach of privacy had taken place. Mosley won a similar verdict in France, where copies of the newspaper had also been sold. (Source:

Despite the ruling, accounts of the story and copies of the photographs appeared on numerous web pages. Mosley took further legal action in French courts (which appeared to be most sympathetic to his case) against Google, demanding it remove all links to pages detailing the story.

Google Agreed to Remove Links One at a Time

That legal action ended when Google agreed to remove each link after receiving a formal complaint from Mosley. At the time, technology experts warned this would be a fruitless, never-ending task.

Mosley later demanded that Google put in filters that automatically blocked a link to any site discussing the case. He says Google told him that such a plan might be technically possible, but it refused to do so in principle.

Mosley has now returned to court to try to force Google to take action.

The French court hearing the case has given him partial backing: instead of Google blocking all links to discussion of the case, the Internet firm has been ordered to block all links to pages containing any of nine specific images of Mosley's intimate adventure.

Google Plans to Appeal Verdict

This should be technically possible as Google already has the ability to search for copies of a specific image, even if it has been resized or cropped.

However, Google says it will appeal the verdict, with a company lawyer arguing that the decision "should worry those who champion the cause of freedom of expression on the Internet." (Source:

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