Google is being threatened with a $100 million lawsuit from an attorney representing celebrities whose private photos were published on Google, according to USA TODAY.
Attorney Martin Singer wrote, “Google is making millions and profiting from the victimization of women. Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ motto is a sham.” Singer added that Google had helped perpetuate the practice, writing, “As a result of your blatantly unethical behavior, Google is exposed to significant liability and both compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $100 million… This is unconscionable. The seriousness of this matter cannot be overstated.”
Singer was only getting warmed up. He continued:
If your wives, daughters or relatives were the victims of such blatant violations of basic human rights, surely you would take appropriate action. But because the victims are celebrities with valuable publicity rights, you do nothing — nothing but collect millions of dollars in advertising revenue from your co-conspirator advertising partners as you seek to capitalize on this scandal rather than quash it. Like the NFL, which turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women.
Google has stated that it has deleted tens of thousands of photos, most often within hours of their posting, and decries the practice of publishing private photos.
Countering critics who say the lawsuit will be ineffective, that it is akin to playing whack-a-mole, attorney Blair Berk, who has represented celebs, said, “It’s largely a red herring. There are ways to obstruct the whack-a-mole situation — they know it, we know it, it’s not expensive or time-consuming. We’re way past that.”
Reputation manager Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, echoed, “Anything they can do to get to a better result in respect to privacy online is important, but celebrities have to understand that they are the first line of defense against that sort of thing.”
Some of the celebrities victimized were Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Jenny McCarthy, Rihanna, Kirsten Dunst, and Kim Kardashian. Google sites such as Blog Spot and YouTube still feature some of the photos, while other sites, including Twitter, have removed them.
Google told USA TODAY: “We’ve removed tens of thousands of pictures — within hours of the requests being made — and we have closed hundreds of accounts. The Internet is used for many good things. Stealing people’s private photos is not one of them.”
Google intimated that it needs other people to alert them to the problem, since photos are constantly being posted. The usual practice is either to flag the photos or file copyright infringement requests.
Berk was skeptical, noting, “They get enormous traffic, hundreds of thousands of hits and millions of dollars in profit and for every hour of delay (in taking them down), there’s that much more profit. It’s about the profits.”