Google fears for 'free expression' as court orders removal of Mosley orgy pictures

Google has been ordered by a French court to remove recurring links to images of ex-F1 chief Max Mosley with prostitutes, in a ruling that the search engine claims has "serious consequences for free expression."

Mosley, the former president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), successfully sued the now defunct News of the World for breach of privacy in 2008 after the tabloid newspaper published the pictures alongside a story claiming Mosley had been involved in a "sick Nazi orgy."

On Wednesday the Paris superior court ordered Google to pay Mosley €1 (84 pence) in damages, and to "remove and cease, for a period of five years beginning two months after this decision, the appearance of nine images identified by Max Mosley in the Google Images search engine results."

Google has said in a statement that in order to fulfil the court order, a new software filter would have to be built in order to find any incriminating images that are posted online.

"This is a troubling ruling with serious consequences for free expression and we will appeal it," Daphne Keller, Google's associate general counsel, said in a statement. "Even though we already provide a fast and effective way of removing unlawful material from our search index, the French court has instructed us to build what we believe amounts to a censorship machine."

Images of the infamous sex party can be found on the first page of results when Mosley's name is entered into a Google image search. Similarly, the News of the World video can still be found easily through the search engine.

When legal proceedings against Google were initiated in 2011, Mosley revealed that he was also pursuing legal action in 22 other countries. "The fundamental thing is that Google could stop this appearing but they don't or won't as a matter of principle," he said. "The really dangerous things are the search engines."