Google defends content tactics to unconvinced MPs
Google executives have defended the company’s blocking policy during an ill-tempered grilling from MPs at a joint committee on privacy and injunctions.
The search giant’s public affairs head David-John Collins and legal director Daphne Keller claimed the company was unable and unwilling to block content on the web.
The defence came after Google was attacked by former F1 boss Max Mosely, who claimed the company had failed to take down images from an orgy that were published online by the News of the World.
According to Keller, it was not possible to “flick a switch” and remove content from the web, but committee member and Labour MP Ben Bradshaw claimed Google’s responses were “totally unconvincing”.
My point is not that it is technically unfeasible to do this. My policy point is I think doing so is a bad idea
Keller told the committee that Google had removed hundreds of URLs featuring videos of the Mosely event from its search results, but that the company’s algorithm wasn’t able to filter out all similar content, even if Google wanted to.
“We don’t have a mechanism that can find duplicates of pictures or duplicates of text and make them disappear from our web search,” she said, according to a report in The Guardian. “And as a policy matter I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
Keller said Google would take specific content down if requested through official channels, but claimed it should not be the arbiter in what was available online.
“Ultimately the determination of which web pages violate the law is something for a court, for a person to make, rather than for an algorithm to make potentially erroneous conclusions about what should come down,” Keller said, before being accused of “ducking and diving” by the committee.
“My point is not that it is technically unfeasible to do this. I don’t dispute that someone could build such a thing. My policy point is I think doing so is a bad idea.”
The defence comes a week after Google gave evidence to the Leveson committee looking into media ethics, where it also discussed the Mosely case.