When an S&M-loving plaintiff goes-up against a defendant whose motto is "Do No Evil", an interesting moral conundrum arises - especially when, in this case, the defendant's name is Google and they appear to have conveniently forgotten about the "Print No Evil" subtext to their 'mission statement'...or, to speak in the Silicone Valley vernacular and to be more 21st Century about it, "Index No Evil".
I speak, of course, of Sir Oswald Mosley (sorry - Max Mosley) and his impending legal battle against Google, who might be described in certain circles as the 'unevil' - in much the same way as zombies are described as the 'undead'. The former Formula 1 supremo and youngest son of the leader of Britain's wartime fascist movement is taking the unevil to court due to the fact that, despite various, general media injunctions (which Google say they have complied with), certain images of Mosley Jnr enjoying - to quote him from his appearance at the on-going Leveson Inquiry at the Houses of Parliament this week - "my little party" as part of his "slightly unusual sex life" ('slightly' clearly being a subjective choice of words), are apparently still available via Google's search engine. Well, as we say in Blighty, "Good Luck to Him" as, if our daily experiences in Web Sheriff'ing are anything to go by - and they certainly should be - the amount of 'evil' indexed not just on Google, but on all major search engines, is truly astounding.
Now don't get me wrong, after years of seemingly struggling to find a workable system, these days Google are actually excellent when it comes to removing illegal/pirated copyright material from their listings - making mortal enemies of the movie and music Industries by 'facilitating' internet piracy is ultimately not good for business - but, when it comes to removing search engine listings for on-line libels or, worse still and to borrow Paul Dacre's expression, "unimaginable depravity", then apparently it's unevil to list and de facto publish many of the worst evils known to man. Now, there's nothing wrong with low-level pornography for example, so long as it's between consenting adults and isn't easily accessible by children (on which more shortly), but extreme porn in the form of sexual violence against woman, bestiality, incest and the vilest forms of cartoon porn aimed directly at children, are all there within a few clicks of the mouse and readily accessed from any living room (or child's bedroom) in the country. Or how about instructions on how to make a bomb, or how to kill yourself...or how to poison your mother-in-law ?!
Is it evil to deny this 'freedom of speech', or is the greater evil to take this material into our homes by making it so easy to find ?! A simpler and more arbitrary test - but none the worse for it - is this: would this be allowed on television, or on the radio, or in newspapers - or even on the 'top shelf' down at your local newsagents? The answer in (very) many cases is a clear "No". And yet, on the most powerful medium ever known to man, it somehow seems that anything goes - regardless of the consequences.
In short, I'd venture the proposition that anything that is illegal - be it in the civil or criminal sense - should not be indexed...although then you get into the problem of things not being illegal in one country (say America), but being highly illegal in another (say Iran)..ultimately, all Google could do - and in my opinion should do - is apply the laws of the country or countries in which it operates...well, at least if those countries are free democracies - although that takes us into a whole other debate.
Talking of freedom of speech - and in a round-up of other news - a 61-year-old grandfather, who suffers from cancer, was sentenced to 20 years in jail by the Thai authorities for sending a TEXT that was unflattering to the Queen of Thailand! Here's hoping he receives a reprieve and heaven knows what they would have made of the Sex Pistols and their 'subversive' rendition of God Save The Queen - which, in a blemish on this country's generally good record on civil liberties, was even banned by the BBC. Thankfully, the British public saw through this ruse and promptly made the record a number one hit!
In the digital world, Facebook announced that it now only takes 4.74 'hops' to link any two individuals in the world - the previous wisdom being that there were 6 'degrees-of-separation' between any two people on the planet...although, quite how the .74 bit works is a mathematical possibility but a physical impossibility...and no round-up would be complete without lauding Major Ahmed Shouman - the first senior officer to publicly declare against Mubarak, he has now risked life-and-limb to become the first officer to re-join the protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding the resignation of Egypt's military junta.
Last, but far from least, Hacked Off - the campaign group of News of the World hacking victims - organised a private party after a day of hearings and evidence at the Leveson Inquiry, where the-great-and-the-good rubbed shoulders and quaffed champagne at a Soho club...the roll-call included Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Alistair Campbell and Tom Watson MP, although quite whether throwing Max Mosley, Kerry Katona and Ulrika Jonsson into the mix turned the big party theme into a 'little party' is anyone's guess - the event was in Soho after all!
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