Google ignored a court order suppressing the name of a man accused of killing 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane (pictured). In the US a murder suspect is usually named so that the media can try them and, if necessary, arrange a lynching. In a civilised country name supression is used to prevent a jury from knowing too much before the trial and to judge the case on their own merits.
The murder last year shocked New Zealand, where serious crimes are rare. The name of a man accused of the killing has been suppressed by a court, but it appeared in Google Trends emails listing top search terms in New Zealand.
“We understand the sensitivity around this issue, and we have suspended Google Trends emails about searches trending in New Zealand”, a Google spokeswoman said in an email.
The company had earlier written to New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little advising him of the decision after Little urged the company not to be “evil” and to “do the right thing” to prevent more breaches.
The company said it respected New Zealand law and understood the sensitivity of the issue.
“This... provides even further assurance against any recurrence”, Ross Young, Google’s government affairs and public policy manager, said in the letter to Little, whose office released the letter.
Millane, who was traveling after finishing university, went missing in Auckland and her body was found in bush a few meters from a scenic drive in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges.