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Google gets sued by Argentine vice-president called thief in search result

AFP
Published Aug 7, 2020, 4:56 pm IST
Updated Aug 7, 2020, 4:57 pm IST
Facing charges in nine cases, Cristina Kirchner was twice ordered into pre-trial detention, but parliamentary immunity spared her jail time.
View of a car reading
 View of a car reading "The commission is a sham" during a protest against a judicial reform bill announced by the government, in front of the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, on August 1, 2020, during the COVID-9 pademic. Argentina's government opposition has fiercely criticised the reform bill on grounds that it would grant impunity to former government officials facing corruption allegations, including now vice president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. (Photo | AFP)

Buenos Aires: Former Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner announced on Thursday that she has filed a defamation lawsuit against internet giant Google after its engine search allegedly identified her as a “thief.”

The complaint stems from May 17 when a Google search into Kirchner’s name returned a result with “Thief of the Argentine Nation” in the place where her political position—she is currently the country’s vice-president—should have been, local press reported.

 

“Today I filed a request for technological expertise against Google that will form evidence for a lawsuit,” Kirchner, who is facing charges from nine separate cases, some for corruption during her time as president, wrote on Twitter.

She has twice been ordered into pre-trial detention, although her parliamentary immunity has spared her actual jail time.

“When lies and defamations are fired from massive platforms, there’s no limit to their circulation, they cannot be contained and the damage they do to the defamed is incalculable,” added Kirchner, who has been accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes.

 

Kirchner said her lawsuit aimed also to determine whether there was any kind of “possible defense for people who are victims of this type of action perpetrated by technological giants like Google.”

Her lawyers are seeking information about how long the alleged search result remained in place and how many times it was viewed.

The lawsuit states that it would be “difficult to calculate” how much damage had been done to Kirchner’s reputation without the answers to those questions.

It said the alternative job title appeared directly on the Google platform “without referring to a website of any third party but under its sole orbit and responsibility.”

 

Kirchner, 67, who succeeded her late husband Nestor as president and served two terms from 2007-15, claims she is the victim of “political persecution.”

The cases against her were brought during the tenure of her successor as president, Mauricio Macri (2015-19) and mostly by the late anti-corruption judge Claudio Bonadio, who died of cancer in February.

One of his most famous cases against Kirchner was the so-called corruption notebooks scandal.

It revolves around meticulous records kept by a government chauffeur, Oscar Centeno, of cash bribes—allegedly worth $160 million between 2005 and 2015—he is said to have delivered from businessmen to government officials.

 

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