Eady gets it right on Google
Padraig Reidy: Eady gets it right on Google
02 Mar 12

A former Conservative council candidate has lost in his attempt to sue Google for hosting “defamatory” comments on a blog.

Payam Tamiz, who was ditched as a council candidate in Thanet, Kent, after being found to have referred to local women as “sluts” on Facebook, claimed that Google was the publisher of the comments, hosted on the company’s Blogger platform. Mr Justice Eady rejected this notion and refused to allow Tamiz continue the case.

The troubles of one misguided young politico don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, but Tamiz has inadvertently established something quite important here. Google and other internet service providers cannot be considered publishers.

Publishing is a conscious act, and even with all the resources in the world, Google could not publish all the content that appears on its platforms every day.

This is not the first time someone has tried to sue Google as a publisher. In Spain, attempts have been made to hold Google responsible for content that appears on government and newspaper websites. Meanwhile, former motorsports chief Max Mosley is attempting to sue the company in 22 separate jurisdictions.

The judgment chimes with the government’s latest publication on libel reform, which recommends that ISPs be recognised as conduits rather than publishers in any dispute. Mr Justice Eady has taken a lot of criticism from the press in the past, but this is an excellent decision.


By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.