Max Mosley has taken his long-running battle against Google to the UK High Court in an effort to block material about his sex life from appearing in the internet company’s search results.
The former Formula One governing body’s president wants Google to block images from a sadomasochistic sex session in a Chelsea flat – which a UK court ruled in 2008 were in breach of his privacy rights.
“Adherence to the rule of law is essential to any society,” he said in a statement. “This must include compliance with the decisions of the courts. As the gateway to the internet, Google makes enormous profits and has great influence, so I have not taken this action lightly. But Google should operate within the law rather than according to rules it makes itself. It cannot be allowed to ignore judgments in our courts.”
Google said it had worked with Mr Mosley “to address his concerns and taken down hundreds of URLs” that he had told them about. However, it added it was unwilling to proactively locate and remove them from the search index, fearing this would lead to legal material being removed from the web.
Google is appealing decisions by courts in Germany and France that ruled in favour of Mr Mosley, demanding that the company begin blocking some images related to the incident.
Google has come under greater scrutiny for its privacy policies recently. In a controversial ruling in May, the European Court of Justice granted European citizens the “right to be forgotten” online. This gives citizens the power to ask internet search engines to remove embarrassing or sensitive results for queries. Google has complained it is difficult to make decisions on what links to expunge from its search results because it must balance a person’s right to privacy with the public’s right to know.
In a statement, Paynes Hicks Beach, Mr Mosley’s law firm, said this balancing act was not relevant in deciding this case.
“This is not a case about the ‘right to be forgotten’ or freedom of speech,” it said. “Nor does it require Google to act as an arbiter of what is lawful and what is not. The High Court has already made that decision in respect of the images concerned. All that Google is being asked to do is to take practical measures to give effect to that decision of the court.”