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November 24, 2014

Google in High Court Case Over Online Abuse

A UK businessman and former Morgan Stanley banker, Daniel Hegglin , who took Google to court in a bid to prevent defamatory and anonymous online content about him appearing in search engine results, has finally reached a settlement.

Caroline Skipsey discusses the Daniel Hegglin story on Sky News. Please see her interview in the link below: http://bit.ly/1ztVytd

When Daniel Hegglin decided to Google himself, he discovered he was the subject of a malicious online attack. More than 3,600 websites, according to Hegglin, contain abusive and untrue material about him. He is described as a paedophile, murderer, Nazi and supporter of Ku Klux Klan.

The traditional route Google requires in order to remove links – providing a list of all web links to be removed, would be expensive, time-consuming and ineffective, argued Hegglin. Consequently he took the world’s biggest search provider to court. His aim was to force Google to block access to these defamatory pages being processed in England and Wales. Hegglin requested that Google block the abusive content, and hand over the IP address of the authors who were publishing these anonymous pages.

Although Google did make attempts to remove the offensive content from Google-hosted websites, Hegglin claimed that the company had not done enough to stop the ‘vile and abusive’ comments appearing in its search results. The posts went viral, allowing the abuse to spread wider.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, Hegglin’s lawyer, likened it to “playing a game of whack-a-mole” – no matter how many pages were removed, he explained, more kept appearing.

Google described it as an “exceptional case of internet trolling in terms of its prominence and volume”.

The case apparently pre-dates and is unconnected to the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, which was established by the European Court of Justice in May 2014. The ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling sates that irrelevant and outdated content about someone should be erased from search results on request.

Lawyers have described the Hegglin case as ‘a test case with potentially enormous consequences’.

Online abuse is liable to have devastating consequences on the victim’s life. Anyone can post defamatory and abusive content anonymously online.

 

According to Tomlinson Hegglin will now “concentrate his energies on bringing the person responsible for this campaign of harassment to justice.”

Igniyte’s figures related to the case quoted by the Sky News: Google Settles In ‘Extreme’ Trolling Case.

Igniyte, is an Online Reputation Management company, based in the UK, that tries to promote positive content and push down negative comments, blog posts or media coverage. You could call  to discuss with us on 0800 080 7997.

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