Ex-Morgan Stanley Banker Follows Mosley in Google Clash

A former Morgan Stanley banker and ex-motor racing boss Max Mosley sued Google Inc. in separate U.K. bids to force the world’s biggest search provider to block information about them on the Web.

Daniel Hegglin asked a London court to order Google to take down “vile and abusive” comments posted by an unknown person, his lawyer Hugh Tomlinson told a London court hearing today. Mosley, the former Formula One president, sued Google to make it stop gathering and publishing images of him at a sex party.

Google is grappling with privacy issues in Europe after a surprise ruling from the European Union’s top court ordered it to remove personal information from search results on someone’s name on request if it was outdated or irrelevant. While Google will take down links when alerted to illegal content, Mosley said this doesn’t help tackle content that goes viral.

“There should be an automatic barrier to these specific pictures which you can identify,” Mosley said in an interview earlier this month.

“The problem anybody would have with material that’s gone viral is that as fast as you’ve got it taken off or the link cut to one website, another one will appear,” he said. “It’s like ’Whack-a-Mole,’ that game where you keep hitting something down.”

‘No Control’

Google has “worked with Mr. Mosley to address his concerns and taken down hundreds of URLs about which he has notified us,” Bill Echikson, a spokesman for the company in Brussels, said in an e-mailed statement.

Google “has no control over what goes on these blogs at all. It’s simply providing a product,” its lawyer Andrew Caldecott, told the court on the Hegglin case. “This case has every look of a test case,” on applying U.K. data-protection rules passed in 1998 to the Internet today, he said.

Hegglin is also asking Google to hand over an IP address to help identify the author of the comments posted anonymously. Based in Hong Kong, he left Morgan Stanley in 2009 after working at the bank for 25 years in Europe and Asia, according to his LinkedIn account.

Hegglin didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment and his lawyer said Hegglin didn’t want to discuss the case at this stage.

Judge David Bean said he planned to schedule a trial for the Hegglin case as soon as November. Hegglin won permission for a claim on Google in California, asking it to block access to the information.

Privacy Breaches

Google argued last year that a U.K. court had no jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit by a group of Internet users who say the company breached their privacy. The company has previously argued that it’s governed by the law where it is headquarted in Mountain View, California.

Mosley won a 60,000 pound ($101,630) breach-of-privacy award in a U.K. court in 2008 from News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World newspaper for publishing its story on a Nazi-themed “orgy” along with a video. The court ruled there was no Nazi theme and the story wasn’t in the public interest.

Google was ordered by a German court in January to block six images showing Mosley from its German search site Google.de. Mosley won a similar bid at a French court last year which told the company to block nine images linked to Mosley and awarded him 1 euro in damages.

The cases are Mr Max Mosley v. Google Inc & Anr, HQ14X02964, High Court of Justice Queens Bench Division and Daniel Hegglin v Google Inc. and others, Case No. HQ14X02511, U.K. High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division.

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