Judge tells Google to provide details of people behind fake reviews

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By Larry Banks

Google has been in court in the Netherlands over fake reviews on some of its sites. TechCrunch reported today that a nursery in Amsterdam recently won the lawsuit against the search giant, forcing the company to take down the fake reviews and also provide details of those who posted the reviews.

The firm is also apparently being told to provide IP addresses, names and more of the people who posted fake reviews to its site. The nursery in question had sued Google after receiving negative and harassing reviews over a period of six months, claiming that the nursery was harming the children that it watched among other things.

The nursery had originally asked Google to remove the reviews it thought were fake, but the company refused and claimed they fell under freedom of speech and would not take them down, which subsequently led to the court case.

The fees that Google has been asked to pay amount to less than $2000, however the main part of the ruling is concerned with providing the details of the fake reviewers, something it’s never been asked to do before. The decision by the judge in Amsterdam might set a precedent in future regarding fake reviews, something that has been a thorn in the side of companies like Amazon and Yelp.

The nursery’s lawyer, Paul Tjiam, notes that similar rulings would be hard or almost impossible to justify in countries like the US and some parts of Europe.

“As far as the Netherlands is concerned, this is big (and good) news for especially the smaller businesses who are being harassed via Google Reviews. As with the ‘right to be forgotten’, this decision will be used by 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.

The Netherlands and its court decisions are…often a front-runner of what other courts will decide in the coming years”.

The ruling could still be appealed, but sets an interesting precedent going forward.

SOURCE: 9to5Google.com.

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