Search engines like Google cannot claim to be ‘content-blind’: Kerala HC

The Kerala High Court has held that search engines like Google cannot claim to be mere intermediaries with no control over the content that appears in search results.

This came in a judgment by a division bench of Justices Muahmed Mustaque and Shoba Annamma Eapen on the right to be forgotten and the manner in which it applies to publication of court judgments and proceedings, in the absence of any specific legislation.

The bench observed that even though making court judgments available in search results cannot be faulted, it cannot be said that Google has no control over the information that gets thrown up in search results.

“We cannot hold that Google is content-blind to the publications made online, can they allow any prohibited nature of content to appear online? For example, paedophilic content,” it said.

Moreover, it also opined that that in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is quite possible for Google to identify the nature of the content and remove the same.

The court pointed out these on a batch of pleas moved by certain litigants seeking erasure of their personal details that were appearing on Google search.

It also clarified that it is not looking at the responsibility or liability of Google for publishing judgments online, and rather, the court is concerned with the eternal nature of information online, which goes against the right to be forgotten.

Therefore, it said that in the absence of legislation, litigants may have to approach the court and it may have to recognise their right and direct removal of such content available online on a case-to-case basis.

20221223-164204

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