Motorsport executive Max Mosley wants to introduce search engine filters designed to weed out embarrassing content.
Mosley claimed that newspapers should be required to alert famous people before they are written about, allowing them to block any undesirable reports. The European Court of Human Rights rejected Mosley's request. Mosley then piggybacked the News of the World ethics debate and the findings of the Leveson Inquiry to push for new rules which would require search engines to delete embarrassing photos.
But Mosley still believes that it's possible to erase such content from the public record and for that matter, the public mind. All one needs to do is filter Google in an Orwellian effort to change the past. Mosley told Leveson that it could all be done by taking down hundreds of sites and forcing Google to stop displaying embarrassing search results.
"One of the difficulties is that Google have these automatic search machines so if somebody puts something up somewhere, if you Google my name, it will appear," Mosley said, according to TechDirt. "We've been saying to Google, you shouldn't do this, this material is illegal, these pictures have been ruled illegal in the English High Court".
Mosley then took his crusade to French and German courts, claiming that continental jurisprudence is more favourable to his requests. The courts could rule that Google needs to censor the images. So if Mosley gets a favourable ruling, he would have to go back to court and require mandatory filters on social networks and other search engines. Other famous people could do the same. It is somewhat surprising that French and German courts have not rejected Mosley's requests yet, as similar requests were deemed illegal by the European Court of Justice.
It is also worth noting that Mosley's requests are based on the fact that the images in question were ruled illegal.
A Google image search for Max Mosley is mostly normal pictures of the man, but Google posts at the bottom: "In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at ChillingEffects.org."