Google Stops Trends Email Alerts In New Zealand After Breaching Court Order

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Google reportedly stops trends email alerts in New Zealand after its email alert system Trends breached a court order suppressing details of a high-profile murder case reported Reuters and AFP.

Google apologized for the error but refused to change how its Trends feature works. An email from the company’s New Zealand government affairs manager Ross Young reported by The Guardian said “changes did not need to be made as the case was relatively unique … involving a person from overseas, which was extensively reported by overseas media.”

New Zealand politicians reacted strongly to this reply, with justice minister Andrew Little accusing Google of flipping the bird at the country’s legal system.

“Google’s contempt for New Zealand law, and for Grace Millane’s family is unacceptable, and I will now be considering my options,” said Little, following meetings with Google executives at the beginning of this week.

“In the end, Google is effectively acting as a publisher and publishing material that is under suppression orders in New Zealand, and they cannot and should not be allowed to get away with that.”

Google responded to this by shutting down Trends temporarily. In an email to Little’s office reported by AFP, the company said: “We understand the right to a fair trial and acknowledge that this is a fundamental part of the legal system.”

Little said he welcomed Google’s decision and that work on how suppression orders will be upheld in the digital age will continue.