French Court Orders Google To Magically Make Max Mosley Orgy Pictures Disappear

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a troubling set of cases in Europe filed by Max Mosley, the former head of the motorsports organization FIA. As you may recall, a few years back, Rupert Murdoch's News of the World newspaper published some photos of Mosley's "rendezvous with five sex workers," who were dressed as prison guards, while he was dressed as a prisoner. NotW described the photos as a "Nazi orgy," which Mosley was extra-sensitive to, given that his father, Oswald Mosley, had been the head of the UK Fascist party, and a friend of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels (who both attended Oswald's wedding to Max's mother). Mosley sued on a variety of claims and won narrowly over the "Nazi" claim. Basically, while the images are apparently accurate, they were supposed to represent a generic German prison, rather than a Nazi prison. The court also ruled that the release of the pictures violated his privacy.

Since then, Mosley has been on a campaign of censorship. He went to court trying to argue that newspapers should need to alert famous people before publishing anything about them, giving them a chance to try to block such stories. Thankfully, that failed. He also sought to influence the UK review of journalism (in the wake of that other, more well-known News of the World scandal, involving hacking into voicemails).

He's also been suing Google in various European countries, arguing that they need to somehow magically block out any instance of the photos of that orgy. Yes, Mosley thinks it's all Google's fault that these images still exist. He argues that:
if somebody were to stop the search engines producing the material, the actual sites don't really matter because without a search engine, nobody will find it, it would be just a few friends of the person who posts it. The really dangerous thing are the search engines.
Of course, it's not the search engines "producing the material." It's the search engines finding the content that others have posted. Unfortunately, a French court has sided with Mosley and ordered Google to magically try to make those images disappear from the internet. This is both close to impossible technically, but also a restriction that will have significant unintended consequences. It will almost certainly block out legitimate content, including news coverage related to this story. For example, much of the news coverage of the lawsuits have included the images. Take, for example, this Gawker story. Under the ruling in France, Google will now be forced to figure out how to censor links to such legitimate journalistic stories.

Yes, it's perfectly reasonable for Mosley to be upset about how all of this went down. And he appears to have received a large sum of money from News of the World about this. But going on this crusade won't stop the pictures from appearing on the internet (in fact, each time there's news about this, it only calls more attention to it), and worse, it will inevitably lead to false positives that censor legitimate content.

Google has already announced its intent to appeal, noting that it's wrong to hold a search engine responsible for policing the work of others. While the release of the original images may be illegal, blaming Google for the fact that such images can be found is supremely misguided.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:01pm

    Why blame Google?

    Why not Bing? Yahoo? Alta Vista? Webcrawler? Netscape?

    Surely they can all find it as well.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Why blame Google?

    Nope, Alta Vista finally disappeared from the web.

     

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  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Oooh, which is worse: Nazi motorsports head or Google?

    Well, they're both authoritarian advocates of total surveillance and dangerous parasites on society, but in this narrow instance: anybody Rich should have no privacy, and so Google isn't exactly to blame.

    So congratulations, Mike! You've found the point where Google can get my (reluctant) sympathy.

     

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  4.  
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    Duke (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Mosley won his claim in England on privacy grounds. His argument, which the Court accepted, was that a national newspaper has no business in infiltrating a private event, taking pictures of it and publishing them. And they didn't help their case by re-running the story after being sued - the Court wasn't happy about that.

    The issue of it being a Nazi-themed event came up because one of the newspaper's arguments was that it was in the public interest that an important public figure, with connections to the Nazis, was appearing to celebrate that and mock victims of the Holocaust. But the Court looked into this and found that they were speaking German because one of the women involved wanted that, and Mosley was fine with it due to speaking German. The Court also noted "Russian might have also been suitable, but unfortunately none of the participants spoke Russian."

    While I'm fine with the original ruling, he does seem to be getting rather ridiculous in his quest for vengeance.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Oooh, which is worse: Nazi motorsports head or Google?

    You don't know what words mean.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:58pm

    When will people like that realise that just because something can be found using a search engine it does not mean that it is being looked at by a lot of people. Bringing such cases will increase the views and copies.

     

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  8.  
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    paul tierney, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 2:02pm

    peado judge

     

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  9.  
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    My eyes are bleeding, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    Re: Yes that

    Frankly yes it should all be removed from the internet and anywhere else we may have the misfortune of stumbling across it!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    i suppose he's running out of money now so has to sue to get some back. i hope that either he or the court has instructed Google on how to remove the images that are on the net and also how to stop new ones appearing. i would be interested in seeing the script to be used for that. i wonder too if all the other search engines world wide have been ordered to do the same? the obvious thing was to not get into this situation in the first place. perhaps if he had worn a maids outfit instead of a Nazi uniform no one would have given a fuck?

     

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  11.  
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    Jim G., Nov 6th, 2013 @ 2:24pm

    The Mosley Effect?

    >each time there's news about this,
    >it only calls more attention to it

    You know, somebody should come up with a short, catchy phrase for this kind of thing. The Mosley Effect?

     

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  12.  
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    crade (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    Blaming a search engine for finding something you want hidden is blaming the metal detector company for finding the knife you used to stab someone.

     

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    Mike Perez, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

    French Court and Google

    I've just read the judgement which is in French. It orders Google to stop finding and displaying 9 specific images, no more, no less. These are all images which have been ruled illegal by French and British courts. They are also images which Google apparently take down whenever requested to do so precisely because they have been ruled illegal.

    All Mosley has asked for and got is an order that Google stop displaying these images rather than forcing him to make a request each time they appear.

    This seems to be more administrative convenience than censorship. I suggest everyone read the judgement before commenting on it.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    damn it why couldn't it be someone better looking.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    Re: French Court and Google

    It would be even more convenient to stop fighting a lost battle.

     

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  16.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 3:49pm

    How about this?

    Since you can change the file name of a picture, or modify it enough so that it no longer registers the same to a computer filter, Google should just block any page that contains the text 'Max Mosley' in it from showing up on a search.

    I mean sure, it might block a few other pages, but if they want Google to do the impossible, they'll just have to accept a little collateral damage along the way.

     

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  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 4:28pm

    Re: French Court and Google

    This seems to be more administrative convenience than censorship


    How does it being an administrative convenience make it any less a case of censorship?

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 4:33pm

    Re:

    I understand that this is European law, not US law, and so there are undoubtedly cultural differences at play here, but I'll spout off anyway.

    His argument, which the Court accepted, was that a national newspaper has no business in infiltrating a private event, taking pictures of it and publishing them.


    I have a problem with the court deciding what is a newspaper's business and what is not. If, as it sounds, the newspaper broke the law by trespassing, then Mosley should sue over that, maybe even press charges. But censoring the pictures themselves seems way over the line to me.

    While I'm fine with the original ruling


    I'm not. But then, I don't live there and so I don't have to be. Just so long as Google doesn't censor this stuff anywhere outside of the jurisdiction of the court.

     

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  19.  
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    tracker1 (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:53pm

    Re: French Court and Google

    If it's so easy to tell, electronically that these images are the same, even if their graphic signatures are different, and they are from different urls.. perhaps you could write a program that can crawl the internet for them, and alert you when new ones arrive, and have a one click request to remove... I'm sure there will be no chance of other images being detected in error at all.

     

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  20.  
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    winky, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:00pm

    What a tool

    The guy is a disgusting pig and his Nazi links do not help. The moron suffers under the egotistic notion that everyone should bow to his whims. His victory is meaningless it is like winning a court case where the defendant is ordering to make sure the sun stops rising.

     

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  21.  
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    Bergman (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Why blame Google?

    Google is the new Kleenex.

     

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  22.  
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    PaulT (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 12:40am

    "without a search engine, nobody will find it"

    Amusingly, while search engines may well have been the primary way to find information when this first happened, things have changed. People use social media to locate things they're interested in just as much as search engines nowadays. He can get Google to successfully block every instance of the photo somehow, and all his "work" can be undone in seconds by a message that's retweeted a couple of times. Bypass this, and people will just use obfuscated links or host images with the URL of the photos contained within the image rather than the HTML, or any number of other tricks to make sure people remain aware of this story. The harder he tries to suppress this story, the harder people will work to keep it alive.

    Even without considering the impossibility of blocking these pictures without vast unintended consequences, merely focussing on search engines is almost quaint.

     

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  23.  
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    martyburns (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:19am

    Re: Oooh, which is worse: Nazi motorsports head or Google?

    Seriously, what dictionary do you use?

    I want to know so that I don't end up buying it.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 2:54am

    I'd love to somehow see my excrements turn to gold, but there's about as much chance of that happening as Mosley's pics disappearing from the internet...

     

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  25.  
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    eaving (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 3:17am

    Google

    Step 1)Eat all searches using the relevant search terms on Google France.
    Step 2)Post a disclaimer on Google France listing the terms that will be eaten immediately below the search box, leading to a SERIOUS Streisand effect as people run off to Bing, Yahoo, et all to see what they might be missing via Google and making sure noone misses out.
    Step 3)Grin having followed the letter of the ruling while proving its stupidity.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Never heard about this until now. Thanks Streisand Effect.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Re:

    NSFW

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:43am

    Re:

    Old people just don't get the internet!

    We need to fork the web so that the oldies can feel OK with their fucked up search engines but we can still have free reign.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    Had he never sued about this *I* would have never seen that photo. Can I sue Max Mosely for the emotional damage I have suffered from seeing the pictures that *he* brought to my attention?

     

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  30.  
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    Duke (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re:

    Well someone has to decide what is and isn't legal, and usually that decision is left to courts. From what I remember there was no claim that the newspaper was trespassing (which wouldn't have enabled him to press charges, because that isn't how English law works). Instead they gave one of the individuals invited a secret camera.

    So he sued them for misuse of private information. Privacy does seem to be a more European concept than American, but the basic principles are that if someone has a legitimate expectation of privacy about something, it is illegal to breach that privacy (say, by publishing photographs) unless the breach is in the public interest.

    By me being fine with the original ruling, that was the original English High Court ruling (and, for that matter, the ruling of the ECtHR in the case). I would suggest that the French ruling wouldn't hold in the UK due to it being relatively futile.

     

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  31.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Instead they gave one of the individuals invited a secret camera.


    In the US, if you've put conditions on someone being on your property (for instance, no photography) and someone violates those conditions, a trespassing case can be made.

    Privacy does seem to be a more European concept than American


    I don't think that's quite right. I think the main difference is that in the US the right to free speech is weighted more heavily than privacy.

    Privacy is still very important, but when the two collide, free speech generally wins. For the government to tell citizens that they cannot say something is a violent act that is restricted by the Constitution.

     

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  32.  
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    Anthony Anderson, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:37pm

    While Google calls the ruling essentially censorship pornography enthusiasts around the world collectively shift their underwear to the side.

     

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  33.  
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    JMT (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm pretty sure the authors of the First Amendment didn't intend it to cover gross invasions of privacy. If somebody surreptitiously photographed you having sex and them published the photos in a newspaper, I doubt you'd be saying "Oh well, free speech and all."

    I don't have a problem with the original privacy ruling and fine, but there is no way the photos of Mosley are ever going to be buried. Any court-sanctioned attempt to do so can only make things worse for everybody.

     

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  34.  
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    An unfan of Mosley and other Nazis, Nov 8th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    Re: Why blame Google?

    And even if all the search engines were blocked, there would still be the Pirate Bay and other torrent engines for those desperate enough to get their jollies watching horny old men getting off their jollies.

    "What a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack." Or should that be "What a strange, strange world we live in, Mistress Jacqueline?" Is Mosley really so stupid that he doesn't yet know that the Internet was made for porn?

     

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  35.  
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    arstaiko (profile), Nov 8th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Streisand Effect

    The Streisand Effect is now in place. In simply going to court with this there are probably more people checking out what the photos are about, so the opposite of what was apparently intended. Removing the content from Google's search engine doesn't result in removal from the internet, but apparently some people seem to think so.

    In many ways the French court and Mr Mosely seem to misunderstand how the internet functions and the impact of certain legal decisions, when it comes to what amounts to censorship.

    I am embarrassed by how backwards the French system seems to be when it comes to understanding the impact of the internet and how it functions.

     

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  36.  
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    M. Alan Thomas II (profile), Nov 9th, 2013 @ 5:22pm

    I think he meant "producing" in the sense of "making a thing available for inspection." It's still idiotic to sue a search engine for doing its job, but let's concentrate on that rather than quibbling over terms.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Why blame Google?

    Maybe they censored themselves out of existence. It's really the only way to not offend anyone . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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