Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Australian Court Fines Google over Defamatory YouTube Videos

Mon 06 Jun 2022 | 06:40 PM
Omnia Ahmed

An Australian court fined Google $515,000, on Monday, for refusing to remove a YouTuber's "relentless, racist, vilificatory, abusive and defamatory" videos.

The Federal Court found the company intentionally made money by hosting two videos on its YouTube website attacking the then-deputy premier of New South Wales. The videos have been viewed nearly 800,000 times since being posted in 2020.

According to the judgment, Google had denied the videos carried defamatory imputations, adding that the YouTuber had the right to an honestly held opinion and should be protected by the right to criticise a politician.

A Google spokesperson was not available for comment on the fine.

"They (Google) were advised that those defamatory videos were there, they looked into it, they decided for themselves that they weren't, and left them up," said Prof David Rolph, a specialist in media law at the University of Sydney Law School.

"That's an orthodox application of the basic principles of publication in defamation law (but) leaves the larger question about whether we need to reform the principles of publication."

Last April, Google welcomed the European Union’s new regulations; the Digital Services Act (DSA) which aims to monitor illegal and harmful content by getting platforms to rapidly take it down, or else risk potential multibillion-dollar fines.

A Google spokesperson said the company welcomes the DSA’s goals but added it wants to work with EU policymakers to “get the remaining technical details right to ensure the law works for everyone.”

“We welcome the DSA’s goals of making the internet even more safe, transparent and accountable while ensuring that European users, creators and businesses continue to benefit from the open web,” the spokesperson told CNBC. “As the law is finalised and implemented, the details will matter.”