In the Netherlands, Google has been battling it out in court over fake reviews on several of its sites. TechCrunch today reports that a nursery in Amsterdam has recently won the lawsuit against Google, not only forcing the company to take down the fake reviews, but also forcing it to hand over the details of those who initially posted the reviews.
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The report notes that Google is being forced to disclose IP addresses, names, and more of the people who initially posted the fake reviews to its sites. The nursery initially sued Google after receiving a handful of negative and harassing reviews over the course of six months. The reviews, which appeared on Google+ and Google Maps, claimed that the nursery was harming the children that it watched, among other things.
The nursery originally simply asked Google to take down the reviews that it thought were fake, but Google refused and said they fell under freedom of speech and there was no justification to take them down, which led to the nursery taking Google to court.
The fees Google has been asked to pay in the lawsuit are insignificant at around less than $2000, but the main portion of the ruling is that Google must provide the details of the people behind the fake reviews, something it has never been asked to do before. This decision by the Amsterdam judge could set a huge precedent going forward when it comes to fake reviews online, something that has plagued companies like Google, Yelp, and Amazon.
Paul Tjiam, the nursery’s lawyer in the case, notes that a precedent could be set, but that similar rulings would be hard or nearly impossible to justify in the United States and some European countries.
“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 Google 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.”