Google was waging an ongoing battle in a court in the Netherlands regarding fake reviews on several of its sites. But recently the search giant lost a lawsuit in Amsterdam to a nursery, according to a report from TechCrunch. The U.S. firm is being forced not only to take down the fake reviews but is also required to hand over the details of people who initially posted the reviews.
First-of-its-kind ruling for Google
Google has been asked to pay an insignificant amount of fees (less than $2,000). The more important aspect of the ruling is that it has been asked to provide the details of the people posting fake reviews. Google has never been asked to do something of this sort before.
According to TechCrunch, the court is forcing the search giant to disclose IP addresses, names and other important information of people who initially posted fake reviews to its sites. The nursery continuously received a handful of negative and harassing reviews over the course of six months, and for this reason, it sued Google.
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On Google+ and Google Maps, there were reviews claiming that children were not safe in the nursery. Originally, the nursery approached Google and requested that it take off the reviews, but the search giant refused to do so, arguing that they come under freedom of speech and that there wasn’t any justification for taking them down. This led the nursery to approach the court against the U.S. firm.
The Amsterdam judge’s decision could set a huge precedent for posting fake reviews online: a problem that has plagued companies like Google, Yelp and Amazon for a long time. Paul Tijam, the nursery’s lawyer, noted that it was possible to set a precedent, but it would be hard or nearly impossible to justify such rulings in the United States and some European countries.
Nevertheless, this comes as good news for a country like Netherlands and will be helpful to smaller businesses that are harassed via reviews. This decision will make it possible for smaller businesses to trace reviewers posting fake reviews.
“As regards the EU, there is no doubt that others will use this decision in their respective jurisdictions. In media and IP related matters, attorneys constantly refer to judgments that were rendered by other (mostly West) European courts,” Tijam said.