Furthermore, the fact for which Google will be judged in Mexico sets a precedent for how these multinationals can be judged in another country. Generally, courts dismissed complaints presented by multinationals, declaring that they declaring they didn’t have competence.
Mexico’s Supreme Court declares competency of its forum
The Tenth Civil Court of the Superior Court of Justice confirmed that Google will be judged in Mexico, facing the complaint presented by the Mexican lawyer, Ulrich Richter. This professional accused the business of maintaining an online blog with false information against him. This decision sets a key precedent, since this is the first time that the multinational will face a judgment for moral damages in Mexican territory.
After five years of litigation, the 10th Civil Court, in the first instance, condemned Google and Alejandro Gutierrez Torres. That person created, in 2014, the blog “Ulrich Richter Morales and his treason against the state”, on the Blogger platform which belongs to Google. Its web crawlers immediately indexed the blog, which still continues to be online.
This blog replaced it with Richter’s identity, by using his entire name and photograph. Plus, in the content published on this platform, he invited people to indulge in money laundering, obviously damaging his professional reputation. Gutierrez even edited the frontispiece of the book “Manual of Citizen Power”, written by Richter. In its place he put another titled “How to wash Money”.
Google can be judged abroad
Richter heard about this blog and complained to Google, asking to have it removed. However, Blogger didn’t agree with the lawyer’s demands. Faced with this, Richter not only sued Google, but also Google Mexico and Lino Cataruzzi, who was the general director of Google Mexico at the time the blog was published. Nonetheless, the judge of the 10th Civil Court established that Google, as the owner and administrator of the crawler and of Blogger, was the only one responsible for moral damages.
In addition, the Court also established that the blog went beyond the limits of freedom of speech. In the legal decision it was argued that the content published there weren’t journalistic articles, nor did they contribute information that could interest the public.
Google was represented, before the 10th Civil Court, by the Gonzalez Calvillo office, of Enrique Gonzalez Calvillo, by the lawyers Jorge Mondragon, Edgar Grajeda, Ana Rosa Bobadilla and Daniel Moran. Google based its defense on its not being the actual author of the change in identity, nor did it interfere in editing the content, because it respected the freedom of speech. However, the Judge established that this didn’t take away their responsibility for the moral damage Richter suffered, and so it must answer for its guilty or omitted activity.
Resolution sets an important precedent
Google had to recognize Richter’s legal complaints of identity supplanting from 2014. Further, the lawyer requested that Blogger eliminate the blog. The sentencing of the 10th Civil Court obligates Gutierrez to repair the moral damage he caused. Meanwhile, Google has to publish the sentence issued by the 10th Civil Court, on its official page. It’s not clear whether Google will do so.
According to Google’s spokesperson, the sentence against the business caused disproportionate damages. “This is a clear threat to the freedom of speech by being a form of indirect censure, expressly prohibited by Mexican legislation and by the Pact of San Jose of Costa Rica, ratified by Mexico”, he added.
The business will certainly appeal, so it will be necessary to wait for the final resolution of this case. The fact that Google will be judged in Mexico sets an important precedent on the theme of the responsibility of the big technological businesses regarding content published by their users.
Caporaso & Partners is an international firm headquartered in Panama, specialized in litigation and the removal of libelous content.