On Monday, the controversy between Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and the British businessman seems to have reached a conclusion. Recently, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) posted defamatory search results of former Morgan Stanly (NYSE:MS) banker Daniel Hegglin, calling him a pedophile, murderer and a money launderer. It seems that Daniel Hegglin for years has been a victim of abusive material produced by unknown users. These materials labelled him as a money launderer as well as a murderer. Hegglin had sued Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in an attempt to block these links from its search engine. He approached the Court of Justice in England and Wales to order Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to take the necessary measures to stop these links from coming up on its search results.
Hegglin who now lives in Hong Kong was victim of abuse on more than 4000 different web sites, each one claiming him to be a corrupt businessman and doing inside trading and money laundering for the Italian mafia.
The case was meant to start on Monday but the two sides have apparently reached a settlement outside of court. According to a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) spokeswoman, both parties have mutually accepted the terms of the agreement. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) emphasized that it has considerable sympathy for Hegglin in this particular case of internet trolling. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has gone an extra mile and handed over the IP address to Hegglin to help identify the author of the comments posted.
No comment came from Hegglin and even his London legal team remained silent. But Hegglin’s barrister Hugh Tomlinson told BBC the settlement was only made possible with a lot of effort being put in by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to take extreme measures to get rid of all the abusive materials appearing through its search engine. This settlement however helped Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) dodge costly legal proceedings at a price of removing all abusive material against Hegglin, silencing an anonymous campaign of abuse.
However, if the case would have gone ahead and in ruled in Hegglin’s favor, it would not only have been a costly precedent but would have opened the doors for similar claims from many such victims.
This case however was different from the ones labeled “right to be forgotten”, which orders the search engine to get rid of outdated information on any EU citizen if they place a request. This law however has gotten Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) on its toes since May, when over 160,000 removal requests from all over Europe started pouring in and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was forced to shut down over half a million sites. This however was the case of online abuse, but the question is; who determines what is defamatory.
The suspect in this case as identified by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Hegglin himself took such actions in response to a relationship turned sour rather than these attacks coming from a stranger. But both parties didn’t try to include the individual in the trial. It remains to be seen whether the prime suspect of this online bullying case will be brought in to the mainstream court.