back to article Aussie bloke wins right to sue Google over 'underworld' images

An Australian has won permission to sue Google for defamation over search results that he alleges link him to the country's criminal underworld. Milorad "Michael" Trkulja has convinced the Australian High Court that he should be allowed to sue Google for allegedly publishing photos that he has claimed "convey imputations that …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I may be mistaken but...

    Umm, those dodgy hitman auto fill suggestions don't appear for me, am I off the mark by suspecting they are determined by the user's prior search history or are they set by Google?

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: I may be mistaken but...

      Might depend which Google you're using.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: Aladdin

        Yeah, seems to have been fixed already by Google...

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Aladdin

          "Yeah, seems to have been fixed already by Google..."

          At least until it indexes this article anyway!

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: I may be mistaken but...

      I'd been led to understand that the autofill options are driven by trends in what people are searching for. For s**ts and giggles, people set up automated processes to perform thousands of searches on some really bizarre phrase, and then that becomes a more popular autofill suggestion.

    3. Tikimon Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: I may be mistaken but...

      Don't forget that you're being Bubbled, your search results limited and skewed based on your "personalization". Google arrogantly assumes it knows what you REALLY meant, no matter what you asked for. You never see the same Google as anyone else, your search results will never match theirs. Sometimes you won't see what you wanted at all because it didn't fit Big brother's profiling. Then they insert hits for sites that paid to pollute your search results.

      Which is why I use Duckduckgo instead. I get clean, un-twiddled results based solely on my exact search terms. What a concept!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I may be mistaken but...

        "Which is why I use Duckduckgo instead. I get clean, un-twiddled results based solely on my exact search terms. What a concept!"

        My question is a little off topic but has DuckDuckGo always been on an Amazon server or is this something new?

        (Nothing wrong if it is, I'm just curious.)

        https://censys.io/ipv4?q=duckduckgo.com

        1. ds6 Bronze badge

          Re: I may be mistaken but...

          They've switched services a few times IIRC. But honestly, with some of the information that has come out about the leadership in DDG, I tend to just use searx.

          My own instance behind a myriad of vpn servers, of course.

    4. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: I may be mistaken but...

      "The liability of a search engine proprietor, like Google, may well turn more on whether the search engine proprietor is able to bring itself within the defence of innocent dissemination"

      At least until he told them about it and asked them to remove it presumably ?

  2. Gordon Pryra

    But

    Was he a hitman?

    1. Twanky

      Re: But

      *If* he was it's probably not a good idea to annoy him...

    2. el kabong

      Maybe he was...

      and he wants to erase his past. Now we'll never know, google can't help.

    3. Tikimon Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: But

      "Was he a hitman?"

      He wasn't a hit in the UK but he made it big in Japan.

    4. TReko

      Re: But

      Australian libel law is odd. It does not care if the allegation is true, rather whether it damaged the person's perceived character.

      1. southen bastard

        Re: But

        It's true Australian law has nothing to do with truth or justus. It was written by criminals and fraudsters then omendedd to suit Aussie conditions

        And yes he was, to old and fat now

  3. ProperDave

    Autocomplete on a name

    If I type my name into autocomplete, I get hundreds of different people that I share my name with. I don't even show anywhere near the top of any search results as there's apparently a US Senator with my name. I probably do have a namesake who's in jail somewhere, but that wouldn't negatively impact me as they aren't me, and anyone basing an assumption on an inferior Google Search shouldn't be allowed on the Internet.

    Of course, he'll now be known as the man who sued Google to soothe his egomania. So I'd assume his next move will be suing for the right to be forgotten.

    1. Gordon Pryra

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      Your name is Dave though.....

      1. ProperDave

        Re: Autocomplete on a name

        True, but perhaps I should stress my surname isn't a common one. :)

        ... or perhaps is on a global scale, given how many more of me there are in the world.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: ProperDave

          Dave?

          Hello Dave?

          Is Dave there?

          Damn, no Papa Lazarou icon...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ProperDave

            Wouldn't matter anyway!

            You're MY wife now!!!!

          2. onefang Silver badge

            Re: ProperDave

            Dave's not home.

          3. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: ProperDave

            Dave?

            Hello Dave?

            Is Dave there?

            "Dave's not here man."....

          4. Clunking Fist Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: ProperDave

            "Whatca, Dave"

            "My name's not Dave, it's Rodney"

            "What's Dave then: a nickname?"

            "No: you're the only one who calls me Dave!"

    2. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      indeed. The 'I feel lucky' result from my search went to an article in The Guardian about this court case. Might well be different if I was using google in Australia tho.

    3. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      Google search also gives different results depending on what you have searched for in the past. When I entered Dave I get https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibfQX11aPmg

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Autocomplete on a name

        Google search also gives different results depending on what you have searched for in the past.

        Hah, Google doesn't. The last thing I searched for were the papers for one of my motorbikes, and before that a bad connection in my incoming VDSL cabling. Google knew of neither.

    4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      I have to type almost my complete name before I see myself. Once I have my surname complete, mostly I see myself and pianist Marilyn Nonken.

      AFAICT my name is unique.

      Apparently my wife's name is also unique, both maiden and married names.

      And my daughters... well. My surname is VERY unusual.

    5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      Mine on the other hand returns me in the top 10... there isn't that many of us as it turns out. Sgt_oddball links to me too but you've got to dig for that one.

      I'm just disappointed in no longer the foremost expert on sods law......

    6. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Autocomplete on a name

      Let me guess...

      You asked Google to search for your name & Google replied "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold on

    just did a Google image search for my real name.

    Comes up with all sorts of people IT guys, doctors, and yes a criminal.

    If you overlook the fact that some are tall, short, grey haired, bald, black or white skinned maybe I should sue google because someone may mistake someone with a different skin colour in a different country, and a criminal past(or at leas allegation) to be me. And despite all that we share the same first and last name.

    I would guess there are very few people in the world with a totally unique name and any kind of aggregation is going to result in a few people having a "wrong-un" in the list.

    even the terminator didn't find the right Sarah Connor first time!

    He may be entitled to sue, but as far as I can see he has zero chance of having any kind of success.

    1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: Hold on

      And if his case gets thrown out?

      He'll be back?

    2. Steve Button

      Re: Hold on

      Wait?

      Your real name is not Anonymous Coward?

      You are one of the busiest people on this blog and they don't make you use your real name?

      Shocking!

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Hold on

        [shouty] I am Anonymous Coward [/shouty]

    3. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Hold on

      But the article says that Google has to pay the costs anyway, so he can presumably hire the most expensive lawers in Australia at no cost to himself. Nice one.

      1. southen bastard

        Re: Hold on

        He's an aboriginal the Australian public pay for everything all the time

    4. ShelLuser

      @AC

      "maybe I should sue google because someone may mistake someone with a different skin colour in a different country"

      And what about the websites which actually published all that material?

      That's the part I don't get: they want to sue Google over this,but all Google does is direct you to sites which actually published the material. So, uhm, don't shoot the messenger?

  5. Lt.Kije

    Given airport security's penchant for finering the entirely wrong person, and face identification systems inability to identify a face in a crowd and the plod's readiness to rely on these tools our chap would do us all a favour by succeeding.

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Ick - googled myself and had a shufty at the images - only two pictures was of myself - and the rest... some was pictures which I've posted yonkers ago and is now on some other servers (which made me go WTF) and the rest is of people I don't even know.

    HTF did google got a screenshot of my OS/2 Warp 3 desktop? o_O (did not display when safesearch was ON, but with safesearch OFF...)

    Scary.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      "only two pictures was of myself - and the rest"

      Only one is me, and it's a cartoon. One is of a USA astronaut, several are women, a palm tree, a small child from a couple of centuries ago, an exhaust pipe, a blue square, and a cat.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        ...only two pictures was of myself - and the rest

        None of myself. Several of a young, good looking Australian actor. I like this arrangement!

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      "only two pictures was of myself"

      Ha! Got you beat, Not a single picture of me, even after several 'Show More' clicks. Fear Me! I am invisible to teh interwebs!

      And no, my full name is not particularly common. I started getting pictures of ducks and cars after a while for some reason, though.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Holmes

        Your are Ford Prefect, and I claim my five quid!

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Holmes

        I checked the lot... I've not found one of me but lots of memes around a university challenge contestant and a local chef (plus a lot of Canadians stood around in forests weirdly.. not a mountie in sight though.)...

        I might have been struggling to sleep last night.

  7. Multivac

    Maybe I'll sue too

    Google keeps associating me with some account on pornhub..... oh, hang on..... forget that.....

  8. GlenP Silver badge

    Can I sue?

    Google my name and nearly all the images are of steam locos. Can I sue on the grounds this makes me appear to be a sad git (even if I am one)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I sue?

      >Google my name and nearly all the images are of steam locos.

      Your parents named you British Rail Class 108, blame them, not Google.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Can I sue?

        At least they didn't name him

        ;DROP TABLE staff;

        or similar.

        xkcd

    2. RedCardinal

      Re: Can I sue?

      Well Mr Scotsman...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I put my name in Google, lots of rich people come up but I'm not one of them.

    Can I sue Google so I become one of them ?

  10. JJKing Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    What a fun game this can be.

    I just googled my image and discovered that I am pretty good at ice hockey, baseball and I work at Google but best of all, I have hair on my head. Why do the cameras all lie when my photo gets taken.

    PS. I didn't particularly like my mugshot.

  11. Tannin

    What is it about Reg readers?

    Here I am happily retired after half a lifetime of penal servitude to the IT gods. I no longer have to know anything about IT beyond being able to maintain a system or two at home, and don't even *want* to know because, frankly, computers have got really, really boring since the turn of the century.

    So what am I even doing here?

    I'm reading the comments, 'coz Reg readers write better comments below the line than those of any five other publications put together.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: What is it about Reg readers?

      Yeah! But what does Google say about you?

      1. Long John Brass Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: What is it about Reg readers?

        Yeah! But what does Google say about you?

        That they have a restraining order that says I'm no longer allowed on their campuses/offices/home/pools/cars/planes/trains and that I am not to phone/e-mail/smoke signal/flags/wave/smile or make any further attempts to contact them :(

  12. theExecutive

    He is all over the Internet now

    BBC News, RT CNBC, Hitman Sues Google , Milorad "Michael" Trkulja, hitman... he created this!

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: He is all over the Internet now

      Streisand Effect.

    2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: He is all over the Internet now

      So what you're saying is that Milorad "Michael" Trkulja may or may not be or have been a hitman, associated with the criminal underworld in Australia and possibly a vexatious litigant as well!?

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: He is all over the Internet now

      Some would say that there's no such thing as "bad" publicity.

  13. Tikimon Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    On the "my name search" thing...

    While checking out with my groceries one night, I noticed the cashier had an unusual name on her tag. It looked like a Thai name to me, and I planed to search on it to check my guess. In a moment of carelessness I used Google instead of DDG to search for that name. One word, First Name only.

    Holy shite. I got pages of hits on her personal life! Her full name, where she lived, when they bought the house and what they paid for it, previous addresses where she lived. Her husband's full name, when and where they got married. It went on and on. All based on her FIRST NAME ONLY. I could have used the search hits to figure out the rest of her life, easy. Google is your One-Stop Stalking Shop.

    Granted that she had an uncommon name (for this area) but it was frightening how much of our personal lives are eagerly offered up to any random stranger in a non-specific search. Maybe your name is more common and it's harder to find you specifically, but don't kid yourself that the same details aren't on offer online for you too.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: On the "my name search" thing...

      Granted that she had an uncommon name (for this area) but it was frightening how much of our personal lives are eagerly offered up to any random stranger in a non-specific search.

      Although that only works if someone put that information on the Internet for Google to scrape in the first place.

    2. Boo Radley

      Re: On the "my name search" thing...

      When I Google my porn name, nothing at all comes up nowadays. My real name is as common as John Smith, and none of the returned results are me, either. Looks like Google forgot me!

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: On the "my name search" thing...

        John Holmes?

  14. Mage Silver badge
    Joke

    Sparticus

    The solution is for everyone to be Dave Smith or Sarah Jones?

  15. Mr Han

    Never heard of him...

    ...until now.

    Didn't know he was a hitman...

    ...until now

    Didn't know he lived in Melbourne...

    ...until now

    Didn't know he was a grandad...

    ...etc

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Never heard of him...

      Sadly he does look like one Tony Mokbel, who is real hitman in Melbadishou , whose image also shows in the search results on his name.

  16. Rustbucket
    FAIL

    Techdirt response to similar threat in 2016.

    "We had hoped that this would be the end of it, but apparently it is not. A few weeks back, we received the following, absolutely bogus legal threat from an Australian lawyer by the name of Stuart Gibson, who appears to work for an actual law firm called Mills Oakley. The original threat from Mr. Trkulja could, perhaps, be forgiven, seeing as he almost certainly wrote it himself (again, it was incomprehensible in parts, and full of grammatical and typographical errors). Our response was an attempt to educate Mr. Trkulja against making bogus threats."

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160211/17135533582/our-response-to-yet-another-bogus-legal-threat-australia-go-learn-some-law.shtml

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Techdirt response to similar threat in 2016.

      The problem with defamation law and litigation is that it turns the entire judicial process on its head.

      The plaintiff doesn't have to prove anything. The onus is on you to disprove their claims about what you've said.

      Effectively you're guilty until proven innocent.

  17. Cuddles Silver badge

    Interesting defence

    "Google's legal eagles Down Under argued it would have been "irrational" for someone to assume that pictures of people returned against a search for underworld figures are all criminals, partly on the grounds that the mugshots displayed by the search engine for such a search included Marlon Brando."

    Google's defence appears to be that their search engine is shit and users should not assume the results bear any relation to what they were looking for. Have their lawyers been taking lessons from Ratner?

  18. steviebuk Silver badge

    All he's done is...

    ...create another Streisand effect.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Man allowed to blow raspberries at Google!!

    Well you can to, just do it at home, it's free and easy.

    Forcing Google to do anything is a little harder though.

    And you may end up blowing many more raspberries their way.

  20. Shane 4

    Says I am an Irish hurler(sport).

    They kind of got it right,

    Do have a bit of Irish blood in me(Grandfather was Irish) and I have been known to hurl(vomit) after a big night out on the p!ss.

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