A German court has ruled today that Google must block all access in the country to images of a sadomasochistic orgy involving the former Formula One boss Max Mosley.
The pictures, taken from a video filmed by the now-defunct News of the World and published in an article in 2008, were judged by the court to “seriously violate” Mr Mosley’s privacy.
The newspaper had alleged that what its secretly-captured footage showed was a Nazi-themed orgy, but a High Court ruled it should pay Mr Mosley £60,000 for a breach of privacy when it was established that there had been no Nazi element to the proceedings.
Despite that ruling, Google has resisted the former sports boss’s attempts to make it block all access to the widely-circulated images, saying that to do so sets a “disturbing precedent” for internet censorship.
The search engine giant said it planned to appeal today’s decision from a Hamburg court, which has ordered the company to prevent any pictures, links or even thumbnails images from the orgy to show up on the google.de site.
According to reports in The Local.de, judge Simone Käfer ruled: “In the court's view the pictures offered seriously violate the plaintiff's privacy.”
The ruling is the latest legal victory for the 73-year-old Mr Mosley, who was similarly successful in the French courts in November.
Then, Mr Mosley’s lawyer Clara Zerbib said: “The case is not about censuring the content of the Internet, it’s about complying with the court decision that already ruled it was a breach of intimacy.”
Google’s chief lawyer, Daphne Keller, said of the decision in Hamburg: “Today’s ruling, while about a single person and particular content, sets a disturbing precedent that could require Internet services to monitor every bit of content they transmit or store for their users.”
She told Bloomberg news: “We believe that this ruling conflicts with European law.”