Justice Minister says Google has to be called to account for breaching suppression in Grace Millane case

Source: 1News

Justice Minister Andrew Little says he wants to discuss the issue of name suppression with big international companies, after internet giant Google breached name suppression in the Grace Millane case.

A 26-year-old Auckland man has been charged with the murder of the English tourist whose body was found in west Auckland bushland last weekend.  

The man has interim name suppression.

Google admits it inadvertently emailed the accused's name to a number of subscribers earlier this week after it proved to be a popular search topic. 

Mr Little says Google is responsible for the breach and has to be called to account.

"They should not be allowed to say 'it's all the machine's problem it's nothing to do with us.' The truth is, Google is responsible for publishing in New Zealand information that's been suppressed by a court. They've acted in contempt of court accordingly. We have to find a way of calling those folks to account," the minister said.

"The reality is we have principles in our justice system whereby if information is suppressed it's done in the interests if making sure that justice is done ultimately," he said.

"Justice has to be done not only to the defendant in any case, but to the victim in any case. And by distributing suppressed information in the way that they have they are undermining our justice system."

Mr Little said the Government can't pass laws it might consider passing that would prevent this from happening. 

"We can't pass laws in New Zealand that are enforceable overseas. So the answer's not going to lie there.

"It might lie in talking to outfits like Google - and let's face it they have staff in New Zealand, we know that - about how this sort of stuff can be prevented in the future," he said. 

"No one one should take any pleasure or pride in getting access to information that's been suppressed."

In a statement, Google said: "We respect New Zealand law and understand the concerns around what is clearly a sensitive case.

"When we receive valid court orders, including suppression orders, we review and respond appropriately.

"In this case, we didn't receive an order to take action. We are looking for ways to better ensure courts have the tools to quickly and easily provide these orders to us in the future."