Digital Rights, Privacy, Data Protection and Retention, Respecting Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property
Digital Collectibles v. Galactus
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Closed Contracts Expression
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The Court of Appeals of Valparaíso (“the Court”) ordered the removal of online publications in which Jorge Abbott was accused of corruption and committing illicit acts, while he was a regional prosecutor for the Attorney General’s office. Abbott filed a protection recourse against Google.cl and other website domains, claiming that his right to honor and privacy, along with that of his family, was violated by these online publications. The Court considered that the information disseminated by these websites was defamatory. The Court ordered the elimination of the publications and instructed Google.cl to implement filters to avoid defamatory publications from appearing.
Jorge Abbott Charme filed a protection recourse against Google.cl and the administrators of other web domains (gmail.cl, ríe.cl, redeparede.cl, zeebuk.cl, anunciosyavisos.cl, olx.cl) before the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso (Chile), arguing that several online publications affected his right to honor and private life, as laid out in Article 19 No. 4 of the Chilean Constitution.
In the lawsuit, Abbott mentioned that “the aforementioned web pages disseminated slanderous and false affirmations against me, my spouse, children and family” [p. 2]. In the publications, Abbott was accused of corruption and committing illicit acts against human rights, while he was a regional prosecutor for the Attorney General’s office.
Abbott requested the Court to delete or eliminate all the slanderous information against him or his family, specified in the previously referred web pages.
On July 30, 2012, the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso issued a decision in the matter.
The Court of Appeals of Valparaíso analyzed whether the online publications on the internet concerning Jorge Abbott affected his honor and private life, and that of his family. The Court also had to determine which measures were needed to protect Abbott’s rights in this dispute.
Jorge Abbott argued that the publications about him on the aforementioned web pages were false and defamatory in nature, thus violating his constitutional right to privacy.
For its part, Asesorías NameAction Chile Ltda, acting as the administrator of the domains www.olx.cl, www.gmail.cl and www.google.cl, held that as intermediaries they “have no control over the content associated with a specific website” [p. 3]. There’s no reference in the ruling about the arguments presented by the other defendant parties in this case.
In a very succinct analysis, the Court opined “that without a shadow of doubt, the plaintiff and his family were affected by the publications disseminated through the internet […] where they are accused of criminal conducts that can be prosecuted ex-officio, and attributed a lack of morality” [p. 4]. For the Court, this was something that undermined their social perception, which was enough to consider that Article 19 No. 4 of the Chilean Constitution (right to privacy and honor) was violated by the web pages as indicated by the plaintiff.
Hence, the Court considered that there was enough merit to grant the protection recourse in favor of Abbott. The Tribunal ordered the removal of all defamatory information hosted by the aforementioned webpages. The Court also ordered Google.cl to “implement computationally, necessary filters to avoid defamatory publications from appearing.”
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
In this decision, the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso contracted freedom of expression. The Court failed to study or analyze the public relevance of the publications which were ordered to be deleted. The suppressed information becomes even more important since it dealt with accusations against a public official, in the exercise of his duties. Likewise, ordering Google.cl to implement filters against defamatory publications is an ambiguous measure that extends liability to intermediaries, thus forcing search engines to act as editors of information.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Article 19 No. 4
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
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