The High Court, in two similar defamation actions by the same claimant against Facebook UK (FBUK) and Google UK (GUK) respectively, has upheld previous decisions to strike out the claims and grant summary judgment to the defendants.
The Claimant sought damages for libel and for breach of her right to privacy, under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, in respect of the publication of a Facebook profile and a posting on the Google Blogger service about her, both of which she alleged had been created by an impostor and were defamatory.
FBUK argued that it did not control user content on Facebook social media, saying that control rested with Facebook Inc and Facebook Ireland Ltd. GUK similarly argued that the Blogger site was under the control of Google Inc.
The High Court agreed that the defendants were not responsible for the publications and that the claimant had taken action against the wrong parties.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued an enforcement notice which requires Google Inc to remove links to eight websites from the search results displayed in response to a query for the name of an unnamed individual.
This follows a decision from the European Court of Justice that EU citizens have the right to request internet search engines to remove search results in response to a query for their name if those results are outdated or irrelevant.
Google Inc must delist the relevant links within 35 days of the date of the enforcement notice.
In March 2015, the Court of Appeal affirmed that three individuals resident in England could bring claims in England against US-based Google Inc for misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), arising from Google cookies tracking their on-line behaviour without their knowledge or consent.
Google sought permission to appeal on three grounds and the Supreme Court granted permission to appeal on two of them but not the third.
The High Court has awarded £50,000 damages to a US law firm and its principal, finding that a false posting on the firm’s Google Maps profile was defamatory.
Jason Page, the defendant, admitted that the posting of the negative review of the firm had come from his Google account, but denied that he was responsible for it.
After considering various hypothetical explanations from Mr Page, the court concluded that the most likely explanation, on a balance of probabilities, was that the posting from Mr Page’s account was authored or authorised by him. It was extremely improbable that anyone had successfully hacked into that account; there was no evidence that anyone did so and no reason why anyone with a grudge against the claimants should attempt to go down that route. The court commented that it was unclear why Mr Page wished to attack the law firm or its principal but said it was not necessary to reach a conclusion on the motive.
The court awarded the US lawyer £45,000 damages, taking into account in particular the impact upon him personally. It would have awarded a further £25,000 to the firm, but due to a voluntary cap on damages of £50,000, this was the total sum to be recovered.