The Australian media (via an AAP story) is reporting today that Google Australia has agreed to “take down a racist site” (Fairfax) or block “links to Encyclopedia Dramatica Aborigine page” (News Ltd).
The report details a complaint from an Aboriginal man Steve Hodder-Watt who typed “Aboriginal and Encyclopedia” into Google and found Encyclopedia Dramatica on the list. Hodder-Watt lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission in an attempt to have the links removed from Google, stating that the page on Aboriginal people in Encyclopedia Dramatica is “one of the most offensive sorts of racial vilification you could possibly find.”
The report claims that (and it’s the same copy on both News and Fairfax) “Google has agreed to take down links to a website that promotes racist views of indigenous Australians.” “Google acknowledged its legal responsibility to remove links from their search engine to the offensive site” and quotes Hodder-Watt’s lawyer saying that “Lo and behold they [Google] agreed last night to take down the sites.”
We contacted Google Australia today to confirm the story, and received this statement confirming only part of the news:
We respond to complaints and review them by reference to local law. In this case, we have removed the search results on google.com.au linking to the pages identified to us by a legal request. In the interest of transparency, the search results now provide notice that pages have been removed in response to a legal request and in their place is a link to Chilling Effects.
On a side note, I have no problem at all with Google Australia complying with Australian law, even in the context of the broader Google/ China debate currently under way.
The emphasis in the quote is mine, but it’s the relevant part because it would appear that links to Encyclopedia Dramatica haven’t been removed, only links to one particular page has been removed.
That’s very different to the suggestions by the Australian media and Hodder-Watt’s lawyer that “Google has agreed to take down links to a website that promotes racist views of indigenous Australians” and “they agreed last night to take down the sites.”
For example: taken at 12:40pm AEDT Friday 15/1
Basic search: Encyclopedia Dramatica
Encyclopedia Dramatica Aboriginal
Using a racist term
I’m disappointed by Fairfax media getting it so wrong; they’d normally do better. News Corp though isn’t a great surprise: after all, this is a company that defames people for sport, and seems incapable on a daily basis to do even the most basic fact checking.
Of course the ultimate stupidity in the attempt to censor the result comes in two ways: first, the censored results are still there outside of Google.com.au (and many Australians use Google.com,) and secondly, the publicity the story has gained is about to introduce Steve Hodder-Watt to the Streisand Effect. I bet Encyclopedia Dramatica is doing some great traffic and ad views today based on the coverage.
Update: this from the front page of news.com.au