Earlier in the week, New Zealand’s justice minister Andrew Little deplored Google’s disregard of a suppression order related to the high-profile murder case of British backpacker Grace Millane.
Google agreed Friday to change how it publishes New Zealand news after it was reproached by Wellington for breaching court suppression orders in a high-profile murder case, reported AFP.
The US tech giant insisted it respected New Zealand law, adding there had been a “miscommunication”.
“We understand the right to a fair trial and acknowledge that this is a fundamental part of the legal system,” Google wrote in a letter to New Zealand’s justice minister Andrew Little’s office.
Thus, the company pledged that the Google Trends feature that led to a defendant’s name being published would be suspended in New Zealand.
“This means that people will no longer receive emails on any trending searches for New Zealand and provides even further assurance against any recurrence,” it said.
Earlier, New Zealand’s justice minister had urged Google in a twitter post not to be “evil” as he chastized the company for its disregard of a suppression order related to the murder case of British backpacker Grace Millane, reports Reuters.
A New Zealand man accused of the crime pleaded not guilty in January; his name was sealed by a court ruling in Auckland. However, the man’s name surfaced in Google’s “what’s trending in New Zealand” email, which was sent to thousands of subscribers.
“My message to Google is, don’t be evil. Do the right thing”, Little said in a video posted on his Twitter account, referring to the company’s former motto “don’t be evil”.
Little went on to say he was frustrated that Google demonstrated a lack of desire to deal with the issue and stop it from being repeated in the future.
Last year’s murder of the 22-year old shocked New Zealand, a country that boasts a relatively rare incidence of serious crimes and is generally deemed safe.
British tourist Grace Millane, who had been travelling after finishing university, disappeared in Auckland on 1 December 2018. A week later, an unnamed man was charged with her murder, with police locating the victim’s body the next day along a roadside.
A British news story featuring the accused man’s name and his photo was run by Google in a “what’s trending in New Zealand” email.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday voiced strong disapproval of Google’s response in the Millane case.
Ardern is leading a global campaign to stop social media giants like Facebook and Google from being used to promote terrorism and violent extremism after a mass shooting in Christchurch in March that left 51 people killed.
The accused terrorist, a 28-year-old Australian national, had livestreamed his attack for 17 minutes on Facebook and it was shared across the internet.