A cross-party committee of MPs and peers has urged the government to consider introducing legislation that would force Google to censor its search results to block material that a court has found to be in breach of someone’s privacy.
In a report published today, the joint Commons and Lords committee said Google should proactively monitor its search results, highlighting evidence given by Max Mosley, the ex-Formula One boss who said he had spent at least £500,000 in 23 countries attempting to remove traces of a video filmed covertly by the News of the World from the internet.
Google was criticised by the committee for its “totally unconvincing” objection to requests to filter its search results. The search giant argued that such a policy could threaten the unfettered flow of information online.
A Google spokesman said: “This is a really important issue for which there are no easy answers, particularly when balancing freedom of expression and tackling unlawful content.
“Google already remove specific pages deemed unlawful by the courts. We have a number of simple tools anyone can use to report such content, which we then remove from our index.
“Requiring search engines to screen the content of their web pages would be like asking phone companies to listen in on every call made across their networks for potentially suspicious activity.”
(Well, with the difference that those phone calls typically aren’t public like those search results)