5 Jul 2019

Andrew Little welcomes Google backdown

8:19 pm on 5 July 2019

Justice Minister Andrew Little has welcomed a backdown by Google after suppressed details of a murder case were sent to New Zealand subscribers.

Andrew Little at Pike River Mine re-entry delay announcement

Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Earlier this week, Mr Little criticised the search engine for failing to take action over automatically generated search highlights, which breached suppression orders relating to a man accused of murdering Grace Millane.

The name of the man accused of the British backpacker's murder in Auckland last December remains suppressed, pending an appeal.

Google has today sent a written apology to Mr Little, offering to immediately suspend its Google Trends emails in New Zealand.

Mr Little said it was disappointing it took eight months for Google to do anything "meaningful" after it named the murder accused.

"Nevertheless, they appear to have changed their mind, they are now taking it seriously. The next thing is to work with them on the long term, enduring solution which is what we need if we're to avoid a recurrance of this again," he said.

This breach should not hinder the accused's right to a fair trial, but in the end that would be a matter for the court to decide, he said.

New Zealand's justice system must have intergrity, Mr Little said.

"When news publishers breach it [name suppression], wherever they are in the world, and whether or not it's Google, there's got to be some recourse and I am very keen now to make sure that we have that recourse."

Mr Little said he will continue to raise this issue with counterpart ministers around the world.

"There is an issue in this age when news, wherever it is published in the world, can be disseminated back here in New Zealand and I'd like to make sure that suppression orders, and any other orders given by the court, can be enforced in other parts of the world when they are breached."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs