RealTime IT News

Google May Remove Controversial Links

Search engine firm Google said late Thursday it was negotiating a resolution of a lawsuit filed by Germany's national railway operator Deutsche Bahn AG over search results that link to allegedly illegal Web articles

Deutsche Bahn file a lawsuit against the Mountain View, CA-based Google to force the removal of search results, arguing that the two online articles published by German-language publication Radikal allegedly provided information on how to disable parts of its railway system.

The company said it was also preparing similar lawsuits against Yahoo! and AltaVista if the links aren't removed within two days.

Google spokesperson Cindy McCaffrey told InternetNews the issue will be comfortably resolved outside of the courtroom. "We are in the process of removing pages or have already removed some of the links in question."

"We are in the process of contacting Deutsche Bahn to get this straightened out. We feel comfortable we will resolve this very soon," McCaffrey said.

According to published reports, confirmed by a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson, the railway sent letters to Google, Yahoo! and AltaVista, requesting the hyperlinks to the Radikal articles be pulled down but got no answer.

In Google's case, the railway also asked that the 'cache' feature, which takes a snapshot of Web pages. Google's "Cached" link allows a user to see the Web page as it looked when the site was last indexed. It is particularly useful because it can provide a back up in case the original page is unavailable or has been removed.

While Google allows Web sites to request that results be removed from its index, the Deutsche Bahn complaint is unique in that the removal request relates to a third-party site.

Spooked by freedom of speech protections allowed in the U.S, Deutsche Bahn said it opted to file the suit in Germany, where it stood a better chance of making a case. Google, Yahoo! and AltaVista all have subsidiaries in Germany.