TECH: Google threatens to censor the internet because of a court order.

In a fil­ing by the search giant on Fri­day, Google says it will be forced to ‘act as cen­sor’ if the nation’s top court does­n’t over­turn a deci­sion that award­ed a lawyer $40,000 in dam­ages for defama­tion for an arti­cle to which the com­pa­ny had linked via its search engine, reports The Guardian.

In 2016, George Defteros, a Vic­to­ri­an bar­ris­ter whose list of for­mer clients includ­ed peo­ple involved in the noto­ri­ous Mel­bourne gang killings, con­tact­ed Google to ask the firm to remove a 2004 arti­cle from The Age.

The arti­cle fea­tured sto­ries about mur­der charges filed by pros­e­cu­tors against Defteros in the deaths of three men. These charges were lat­er dropped in 2005. The com­pa­ny refused to remove the arti­cle from its search results because it con­sid­ered the pub­li­ca­tion to be a reli­able source.

The case even­tu­al­ly went to court, with Defteros suc­cess­ful­ly assert­ing the arti­cle and Google search results defam­ing him. The judge over­see­ing the case ruled that The Age report­ing sug­gest­ed Defteros had been com­fort­able with Mel­bourne’s crim­i­nal under­world. The Vic­to­ria Court of Appeal lat­er reject­ed a bid by Google to over­turn the decision.

From Google’s point of view, this is one of the fun­da­men­tal ele­ments of the Inter­net. “A hyper­link is not, in itself, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of what it points to,” the com­pa­ny argues in its sub­mis­sion to the High Court.

If the 2020 rul­ing stands, Google says it will make it “respon­si­ble as pub­lish­er for any sub­ject mat­ter pub­lished on the web to which its search results pro­vide a hyper­link,” includ­ing news from trust­ed sources. In its defense, the com­pa­ny cites a 2011 Supreme Court of Cana­da rul­ing that a hyper­link by itself is nev­er a post­ing of defam­a­to­ry material.

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