by Isle of Thanet Gazunder Legal Correspondent Judith Prudence
Anonymous bloggers across the island are celebrating after Thanet Life author Dr Simon Moores admitted an embarrassing defeat at the hands of internet giant Google.
Conservative councillor Moores claims that Google effectively sent him away with the proverbial flea in his ear after he demanded allegedly defamatory material be removed from Blogger, which is owned by the US firm. Writing in the online journal silicon.com he says:
I asked Google to remove the offending material. Google, which is also a UK limited company, answered:
Blogger.com and Blogspot.com are US sites regulated by US law. Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to create blogs, but we don't make any claims about the content of these pages. We strongly believe in freedom of expression, even if a blog contains unappealing or distasteful content or presents unpopular viewpoints.
Given these facts, and pursuant with section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, Blogger does not remove allegedly defamatory, libellous or slanderous material from Blogger.com or Blogspot.com.
Moores claims he had received a 'constant flow of insults and defamation' and that his family had been abused in the street 'by complete strangers'. He continues:
I am told that even a court order from a British judge is not sufficient for Google to change its mind. So we now appear to have a situation in the UK where our own laws governing defamation, decency, libel and the simple test and protection of truth are governed by the more generous interpretation provided by the US legal system.
So if I made defamatory, racist or homophobic remarks about an MP on silicon.com, I could be sued. But if I'm an anonymous blogger, it is acceptable because I'm apparently protected by US rather than UK law.
One anonymous blogger who did not wish to be named told the Gazunder: 'We have yet to be provided with any proof or corroboration by Councillor Moores of the defamation he alleges, or that he has served any papers on anyone, either through a court of law, or via Google. He has not even had the courtesy to name any anonymous blog sites he believes he has a problem with. It appears, however, that Google has taken a sensible view and stood up for good old-fashioned values of freedom of speech.'
Another anonymous Thanet blogger added: 'On a purely common sense basis, if Moores had a problem with anything that had been said he could ask for an apology, which has been the way these things have been sorted out in the past, or posted a defence on his own blog. By not even naming names he appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to clamp down on all Thanet bloggers. Google seem to have realised that healthy criticism of a local councillor and his policies amounts to fair comment and that 'fishing expeditions' to uncover the identity of an anonymous blogger or remove material under unproven allegations of defamation should be treated with the contempt they deserve.'
Click here for full text of Dr Simon Moores article on silicon.com
Click here for Blogger policy on alleged defamation