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Google Says Mosley Suit Over Sex-Party Search Defies Free Speech

Google Inc. said a lawsuit by Max Mosley, Formula One’s former president, asking it to block any further search results referring to a “Nazi-themed” sex party would create unprecedented censorship on the Internet.

Lawyers for Mosley asked a French court today to force Google, the owner of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, to build software filters that would detect and delete certain content, Daphne Keller, an associate general counsel at Google, said in a post on its website.

“We have removed hundreds of pages for Mr. Mosley, and stand ready to remove others he identifies,” Keller said. “But the law does not support Mr. Mosley’s demand for the construction of an unprecedented new Internet censorship tool.”

Mosley, 73, won a 60,000 pound ($94,000) breach-of-privacy award in a U.K. court in 2008 from News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World newspaper for publishing the story on a Nazi-themed “orgy,” along with a video, without contacting him. A judge ruled there was no Nazi theme and the story wasn’t in the public interest. Mosley won a similar ruling in France in 2011 when a judge ordered News Corp. to pay as much as 32,000 euros in fines and fees over the story.

Mosley in 2011 told a U.K. inquiry investigating the phone-hacking scandal at News Corp. that he filed suits against Google in Germany and France over the search results.

‘People’s Dignity’

France and Germany are “pilot cases” and depending on how successful Mosley is, and if he doesn’t reach an agreement with Google out of court, there will be more lawsuits, said Tanja Irion, a lawyer representing Mosley at law firm Irion in Hamburg, Germany. The suits could be filed in other EU countries and in Mountain View, California, where Google is based, she said.

“The case is very important, not only for Mr. Mosley, also generally for the protection of people’s dignity and privacy on the Internet,” Irion said.

The German case will be heard by the Hamburg court on September 20, the court’s press office said today. Rulings in both cases can be appealed.

The case raises similar issues with a Belgian suit that ended up in the EU’s top court, testing the scope of the powers of national courts. The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg in a precedent-setting case ruled in 2011 that a national court cannot order an Internet-service provider to install a filtering system to prevent illegal downloading of files.

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