back to article Google listens to New Zealand just long enough to ignore it

New Zealand courts are asking Google to take down content associated with current criminal proceedings, to the usual and resounding “No” from the Chocolate Factory. In a row that's been bubbling along for months, lawyers and judges in New Zealand have repeatedly complained that Google retains stories and images subject to …

  1. corestore

    Another example...

    ...of what I call 'Canute Syndrome'. There isn't a little local NZ internet for little local NZ people, and courts are going to have to come to terms with that. NZ has very strict 'suppression orders' at times; not too long ago, a fairly prominent politician went on trial on certain eyebrow-raising criminal matters (historical allegations I believe) which would have been front-page news in any other country. In NZ, the entire case was suppressed; the media could only report on it in the vaguest possible terms (and without so much as hinting about the identity of the politician, or even that he *was* a politician, it was just 'a prominent New Zealander appeared in court...') thanks to sweeping suppression orders that applied before, during, and after the case.

    We've seen similar stupidity here in the UK, most preposterously when the then Attorney General insisted that the injunctions issued by British courts protecting the new identity of Jon Venables applied to the entire world, and that they made it a crime for anyone, anywhere to publish any information concerning the matter - which is of course facially wrong and fractally nonsensical; how could he purport to suggest that a British court could override the first amendment in the USA, just for starters?!

    (Interestingly, every time the story comes up, every UK newspaper report I've seen mentions that injunction, and continues to parrot the line about it having jurisdiction over the entire world, uncritically. I wonder why; they *must* know it's a load of rubbish!)

    1. Knoydart
      Linux

      Re: Never do this

      Ah local internet for local people. I guess we could cut all 3 cable systems out of here and keep it local. The irony is that most of the major CDNs are on the west Island so Scrooglee, failbook etc are served from across the ditch in any case.

      Penguin as well no sheep icon

    2. Fazal Majid

      Re: Another example...

      Google can and does suppress content in specific locales, such as the EU’s right to be forgotten. The difference of course is that the EU has much more heft than New Zealand, and their Civil (Roman) Law courts take a dim view of sophistry the more capricious Common Law jurisdictions like NZ or the US sometimes let slide.

      1. Bob Magoo

        Re: Another example...

        There are common law jurisdictions in the EU too you know...

    3. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Another example...

      "which is of course facially wrong and fractally nonsensical; how could he purport to suggest that a British court could override the first amendment in the USA, just for starters?!"

      What it is saying is "if you break a British injunction, anywhere in the world, next time you are in the UK, you're nicked, me laddo". The First Amendment has as much force in the UK as the British injunction does in the US, which is to say, none. Just don't plan on breaking a UK injunction (and the police finding out about it, and caring) then holidaying in the UK. You know, like the US does, only they throw in ridiculous extraditions as well.

      1. corestore

        Re: Another example...

        I think it's a lot simpler than that, DavCraw.

        The legal term for this kind of injunction is 'contra mundum' which means, literally, 'against the world'. Someone seems to have taken that very literal meaning and run with it. What it actually means in practice of course is 'against anyone within the jurisdiction of the court' - and UK courts don't have jurisdiction overseas; the wording simply refers to an injunction that applies to everyone in the UK, whether or not they've been formally served with it, as distinct from a normal injunction against certain named people or organizations.

      2. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Another example...

        "which is of course facially wrong and fractally nonsensical; how could he purport to suggest that a British court could override the first amendment in the USA, just for starters?!"

        EU law already can override US law. See for instance https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/nov/13/google-french-arm-fines-right-to-be-forgotten

    4. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Another example...

      @corestore

      So it seems that you don't think that any attempt should be made to ensure a fair and impartial hearing to anyone accused of a crime, or that efforts should be made to protect the identity of a rehabilitated offender?

      It appears that you would prefer mob rule and "trial by media" instead.

      1. corestore

        Re: Another example...

        I didn't say or mean anything like that; please don't put words in my mouth.

        My primary point (which I thought was obvious from the 'Canute Syndrome' opening) was the sheer futility of thinking national courts can control the borderless internet with suppression orders or injunctions. That entire concept is in its death throes.

        What boots it for NZ courts to forbid NZ media (and individuals) from disclosing details of a court case when everyone else on the internet, from Baltimore to Bangalore, can publish with impunity because they're *not subject to NZ laws*? (and everyone in NZ can read the resulting publications of course).

        My secondary point was to make a stand against this encroaching... balkanization of the internet. You don't like the 'right to be forgotten'? You want your search results uncensored? Just use the US Google servers - but that shouldn't be *necessary*.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge

        fair and impartial hearing

        "So it seems that you don't think that any attempt should be made to ensure a fair and impartial hearing..."

        The thing is that NZ judges are absurdly fond of suppression orders compared to other countries. So because they routinely overdo it, it's almost impossible for the public to know which suppression orders are fair and in the interests of justice, and which are just protecting somebody's mates.

        The irony is, of course, that it's a small country and it generally takes very little time to find out the identity if you're at all interested.

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: fair and impartial hearing

          But that's the point, isn't it. As a geographically small, and sparsely populated country, New Zealand has to work harder to try and ensure that an impartial jury is possible, so more draconian suppression is inevitable.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another example...

      "There isn't a little local NZ internet for little local NZ people, and courts are going to have to come to terms with that."

      There is a New Zealant arm of Google, as well as an NZ-localised version of their site, so it's not unreasonable to expect that part of Google to comply with local laws. Saying they don't have the technical means to do it, when they do so for various European jurisdictions sounds ... wrong ..?

      "We've seen similar stupidity here in the UK, most preposterously when the then Attorney General insisted that the injunctions issued by British courts ... applied to the entire world"

      To be honest, I think the UK is just following the US in that respect of extra-territoriality ... ;)

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Another example...

        > There is a New Zealant arm of Google, as well as an NZ-localised version of their site, so it's not unreasonable to expect that part of Google to comply with local laws. Saying they don't have the technical means to do it, when they do so for various European jurisdictions sounds ... wrong ..?

        One wonders whether they may find compliance cooperation more forthcoming if that lovely

        .co.nz domain disappeared.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another example...

      "A Google engineer said in an affidavit “Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders,” the NZ Herald reported. ®"

      I'm sure it has the ability to pay fines. That should continue until they comply. If it has a local entity, it's subject to local law.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another example...

      >>He said such cases as this and Facebook's GDPR-driven relocation of European users from Irish-domiciled contracts to California showed the giants are more interested in “working around the law rather than with the law – or ignoring the law entirely”.

      They are deluded if they think doing that escapes the requirements of the GDPR.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They should also make sure Spark doesn't allow anyone to hold phone conversations about anything before the courts too. /Sarky

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    If the court suppresses the cases, who tells Google about them so they be searched for by the rest of the world? Perhaps the courts should look at that ?

  4. CloudWrangler
    Joke

    Why not go the whole hog NZ?

    NZ has just entered into talks with the EU about a free trade agreement. Why not go the whole hog and apply for EU membership? Then GDPR would apply and they could get the suppression they want.

    It's not like there is no precedence for countries in Oceania joining European institutions, Australia took part in Eurovision once...

    1. John Hawkins

      Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

      Not as far fetched as it sounds; I've a vague memory of the idea being discussed back in the '80s, using various French overseas territories in the Pacific as an example. Though as the Poms are now leaving the the EU, NZ might need to become part of French Polynesia to join.

      1. Knoydart
        Go

        Re: Never do this

        We currently have an update of laws around protecting information and privacy in general. Some of the smarter people in the NZ security space are advocating for laws to match or at least complement the recently introduced GDPR European rules. Otherwise we run the risk of being a banana republic (monarchy?) in terms of trade and data protection in relation to them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

        Not as far fetched as it sounds; I've a vague memory of the idea being discussed back in the '80s

        I'm not sure NZ would want to join the French in anything, they're still upset about the Rainbow Warrior.

        1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

          Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

          Rainbow Warrior? We got over that long ago. It was the defeat to France in 2007. With an English referee. Now THAT still smarts...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

            It was the defeat to France in 2007.

            Well, that was your own fault ... ;)

      3. silverfern

        Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

        Not really. Because, you know, "Rainbow Warrior".

        And why would France want us anyway? We speak English.

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Why not go the whole hog NZ?

      > Why not go the whole hog and apply for EU membership? Then GDPR would apply and they could get the suppression they want.

      GDPR has nothing to do with this sort of situation. The press reporting on a current story is not a GDPR violation.

      The "right to be forgotten" would be more appropriate, but since this is about current events, I don't think that would apply either.

  5. Gazmeister

    Too small to hide crimes.

    NZ is so small (therefore has nothing news worthy*) that this doesn't just affect the "prominent kiwi's" each time there is a serious crime or a serious car crash (anything that involves near/death) it makes the national front page news.* and becomes a conversation starter.

    I can easily imagine that courts are having trouble finding jurors who don't have prior knowledge of an major incident, then add the fact that Jurors can (shouldn't) find an article which may or may not be accurate.

    *Headline for last 3 days has been the petrol (gas) prices.

    *assuming John Oliver or Taika Waititi hasn't made a joke about New Zealand that day.

    1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: Too small to hide crimes.

      "nothing news worthy"

      Steady. Although you might be on to something: a television reporter sticks a camera and microphone into the face of a random tourist every second night, asking them what they think of New Zealand.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Too small to hide crimes.

        "a television reporter sticks a camera and microphone into the face of a random tourist every second night, asking them what they think of New Zealand."

        At least in New Zealand, unlike Australia, the journos wait for the tourists to finish getting out of the air port before asking them how they like the country.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Freezing the nz bank accounts and blocking all credit card payments to them, would see it become technically feasible in about, oh, 53 seconds.

    1. John Lilburne Silver badge

      You are on to something there. When a French ISP blocked Google ads, Google whined that it was costing them $millions a week.

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/9781425/Advertisers-angered-as-French-ISP-rolls-out-ad-blocking-software.html

    2. frankieh

      you think? It would probably cost more to do it than google makes in NZ. Google pulled out of china when china tried to interfere.. and china is a market with massive potential. NZ isn't. (Australia probably isn't either)

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The database is too big

    Now THAT is a new one for me. What a great excuse, since the database is only going to get bigger.

    Too bad Google doesn't have way to, like, index that database to find out where stuff is, right ?

    The cheek, man, the cheek.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      If only there was a way to run analytics on data that big

      You'd think someone would have done some work on the problem by now. Are there any tech companies that have the resources to develop tools to handle it?

  8. Barrie Shepherd

    Please can I have access to Google's uncensored search results. :-)

    Will be far more interesting than all the other Google sites with their missing results because of EU law disclaimer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean the results after Google have applied their own filters - cos thats as uncensored as they get.

  9. Barrie Shepherd

    NZ Government should make their request via the EU System which seems to be able to stop us sheeple seeing thing governments, rich people and offenders don't want us to see on Google.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Sins of the father

    Perhaps governments should consider changing their laws so that the local part of a huuge multi-national can be held representative of the parent company when the parent is breaking or disregarding local laws and regulations. Sharing the same name and carrying out the business of the parent and being owned and controlled by the parent should mean that for practical purposes it is no different from the parent.

    I'm sure there's something I have missed or a reason why this can't be done but the current ' I;m over here and you can't touch me' attitude needs a solution to make the multinationals accountable.

    I am also sure the weasel lawyers will find a way around if the laws are not ironclad.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about bing? There may be one user in New Zealand to go with the other in America.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they can't do it?

    Well the government can help. Get the ISP's to redirect Google.<tld> to Bing.com. Or if that is "anti-competitive" just send them to 0.0.0.0

    There, problem solved. And no doubt a technical fix for the issue from Google would magically appear in a couple of minutes

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Google New Zealand Limited has no ability to comply with the interim orders"

    And? So because you can't comply with a court order you think you are immune to it? Go fuck yourself Google - if you have a legal presence in a country you have the duty to abide by that country's laws.

    Wankers.

  14. onefang Silver badge

    I wonder what Kim Dotcom thinks of this?

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what Kim Dotcom thinks of this?

      I think you'll find he hates suppression orders. The more of the truth about his case that comes out, the shakier the US Government position appears.

  15. frankieh

    its a slipery slope.. if google started allowing their international DB be edited by every country with a google office they will be spending all their time hacking up their databases.. If we can't get the fappening photos off the net, what right to countries have to expect actual news stories will be removed?

    1. onefang Silver badge

      "If we can't get the fappening photos off the net, what right to countries have to expect actual news stories will be removed?"

      Coz the fappening photos are waaay more interesting than boring old actual news stories?

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        "If we can't get the fappening photos off the net, what right to countries have to expect actual news stories will be removed?"

        The EU right to be forgotten already requires exactly that. And enforcement day for GDPR which applies to the personal data of EU citizens globally (And the data of other nationals if stored in the EU or under the control of an EU entity) is Friday this week.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "It's a slipery slope.. if google started allowing their international DB be edited by every country with a google office they will be spending all their time hacking up their databases.."

      I don't think resources or ability to that are in anyway lacking. Google have already been subject to court orders in France and Canada requiring them to do exactly that. And for instance the GDPR seems to have been specificallly designed to make it way more expensive and risky to infringe EU law than US law where they are in conflict.

  16. silverfern

    As a non-techie, may I naively suggest that all Google into New Zealand be blocked until Google comes to heel?

    I'll get my coat...

    1. Kernel

      You may suggest it - but you do realize that:

      i) There are other search sites than Google that are used by many people

      ii) There are tools that allow individuals to search for stuff on the internet without using search sites such a Google - not that many years ago they were the only way to find stuff on the internet. Not as quick, because basically you are sending out your own robots to crawl through sites on your behalf which takes time to do, but at least the results are comparatively free of ads and only you know what you searched for. Google (or duckduckgo, if you prefer) "Archie", "Gopher", "Veronica" and "Jughead" for an examples.

      1. silverfern

        1. I did say I am a non-techie.

        2. But I happily stand to be corrected.

    2. Kernel

      You may suggest it - but you do realize that:

      i) There are other search sites than Google that are used by many people

      ii) There are tools that allow individuals to search for stuff on the internet without using search sites such a Google - not that many years ago they were the only way to find stuff on the internet. Not as quick, because basically you are sending out your own robots to crawl through sites on your behalf which takes time to do, but at least the results are comparatively free of ads and only you know what you searched for. Google (or duckduckgo, if you prefer) "Archie", "Gopher", "Veronica" and "Jughead" for some early examples.

  17. Agent Tick

    What's the problem?...

    Google *storing/harvesting* other countries' files without permission should be globally illegal in principle! Why is it so complicated to get such laws in place? Isn't this copyright theft? Seriously, order Google to comply or ban/block their domains should be convincing nuf, no?

    There is no problem until you cause it...

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