Monday, November 7, 2011

Google’s Recent Decision not to Impair Access to sites with Revisionist Content

David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President,

Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Google, Inc.

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway

Mountain View, California 94043

Phone: +1 650-253-0000

Fax: +1 650-253-0001

04 November 2011

Dear Mr. Drummond:

Google’s recent decision not to impair access to sites promoting history displeasing to certain Jewish-aligned groups was not only a blow in defense of freedom of expression, but also, I suspect, in the long run a good business decision. I presume the scope of the decision was Google’s United States market, and that Google subsidiaries in other jurisdictions remain free to comply with local requirements in whatever manner least impairs the freedom of expression of users of the Internet and—more at issue—access to information on the part of Google users.

Your European areas of operation remain in some countries subject to laws concerning “hate speech” and “Holocaust denial” that undoubtedly lead you to abridge your compliance with Article I (Serve Our Users), Item 3 (Privacy and Freedom of Expression) of Google’s Code of Conduct.

Compliance with legal requirements, I am sure you well know, is one thing. Complicity in undertakings contrary to Google’s Code of Conduct is something else. And it is the possibility of such abetment that concerns me regarding a speech scheduled for November 16 in Berlin by Arnd Haller, Legal Director for Northern Germany and Central Europe of Google Germany GmbH at a conference of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists headed “Holocaust Denial and Freedom of Speech in the Internet Era.”

Dr. Haller’s talk is an untitled “Greeting,” in which his role might be somewhat that of a host (there are three other “Greeters,” all with German institutional loci). The next day, a session titled “The Recent Google Case in Argentina” is scheduled to be given by a judge and a lawyer from that country.

Of course, while I’m able to infer the necessary latitude allowed remote operators such as Google Germany GmbH, I’m in no position to appreciate any parallel latitude they might enjoy in quasi-official speaking engagements such as this. It is a gray area in which coordination across a far-flung enterprise such as the global Google is difficult to maintain and requires both vigilance and judgment.

And it is for this reason that I seek to notify you of Dr. Haller’s scheduled speech, in the hope that you will direct attention to it sufficient to ensure that his speech adheres to the letter and the spirit of the Google Code of Conduct I cited above, which I feel sure applies to him as well as to every other Googler.

I should heartily welcome your assurances that Dr. Haller’s remarks, and for that matter, the practices of Google in Germany and elsewhere adhere to the Google Code of Conduct in as punctilious a manner as Google’s recent related decision in the United States exemplifies.


Bradley Smith, Founder

Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust

PO Box 439016

San Ysidro, California

Telephone: 209 682 5327


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