Australia Court Paves Way For Google 'Underworld' Defamation Case

Postado Junho 13, 2018

Google is under fire after a man in Australia on Tuesday got the go ahead to sue the search giant for defamation, the ABC reports.

Milorad "Michael" Trkulja was shot in the back in 2004 in a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city.

But Cheif Justic Susan Keifel disagreed, saying if someone searched for information on Melbourne underworld figures and Trkulja's image or name appeared, that person could "rationally suppose" there was a link between the search query and the result.

Trkulja successfully sued Google in The Victorian Supreme Court in 2012, receiving AU$200,000 in damages (roughly $150,000).

A Victorian state court had ruled against Trkulja taking further against Google, however Australia's High Court has now upheld an Trkulja's appeal, paving the way for his defamation case.

The court found some search results for Trkulja "had the capacity to convey. that the appellant was somehow associated with the Melbourne criminal underworld".

Google's legal eagles Down Under argued it would have been "irrational" for someone to assume that pictures of people returned against a search for underworld figures are all criminals, partly on the grounds that the mugshots displayed by the search engine for such a search included Marlon Brando.

However, the court heard autocomplete was an automated function and that previous searches influenced future suggestions.

"It would be open to a jury to conclude that an ordinary reasonable person using the Google search engine would infer that the persons pictured whose identities are unknown are persons, like the notorious criminals with whom they are pictured, in some fashion opprobriously connected with criminality and the Melbourne criminal underworld", the judgment said. "I'm not a criminal, I've never been involved and I will make sure these people are not going to ruin my family - I have grandchildren".

Trkulja says he will pursue his defamation complaints against Google until his name is cleared.

The lawsuit is the latest case in Australia's ongoing legal battle over whether search engines can be considered "publishers" under defamation law, even if they do not create content.