Google battle over sex-orgy images: Don’t make us babysit the Internet

In a very public skirmish, Google is sparring with former racing federation chief Max Mosley, who wants the search engine to make online images of him taking part in a sex orgy go away.

The legal battle, playing out in the High Court in London, pits the search-engine giant against the former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), a non-profit group that lobbies for motoring enthusiasts worldwide. What gives the case an extra sting, though, is the fact that Mosley, a former barrister, is the son of  Oswald Mosley, a British fascist politician in the 1930s. And why does that sting? Because the images Mosley wants wiped clean came from a Nazi-themed orgy.

According to a post in Reuters, the, pardon the expression, racy images of the racing icon “were first published in 2008 by Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World.

Google Inc. sought on Wednesday to block a lawsuit filed against it by Max Mosley in the High Court in London over access through its search engine to images of the former motor racing chief taking part in a sex party.

Google wants to avoid a legal obligation to monitor and limit the flow of data on the Internet. Mosley, who was present in court, argues the firm is breaching his fundamental right to privacy by allowing users to access the pictures.

Reuters points out that Mosley won nearly $100,000 in damages from Murdoch’s paper after a court decided that the party in question did not, in fact, have a Nazi theme and, therefore, the story about it were not in the public interest. Which raises the question: Even if the party was not Nazi-themed, wouldn’t a raunchy sex orgy featuring a well-known icon in the global world of automobile racing still be kind of newsworthy?

In any case, Mosley seems determined to force Google to take down any and all images from the party:

Mosley, 74, has remained in the public eye in Britain ever since, mainly as a campaigner for privacy rights and against media intrusion.

He launched legal action against Google and its British subsidiary in July last year, seeking damages and asking the court to compel the search engine to prevent any user accessing the sex party images in future.

Google’s lawyers say it has removed the images from search results in instances where Mosley has notified the firm of specific search terms being used, and has provided the detailed location of the images.

However, the firm does not wish to go further and set up a filtering system that would prevent users from accessing the images, arguing that would amount to an obligation to monitor the Internet.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images


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