The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Another Attempt to Vanish from Google Searches Materials About Attempts to Vanish Materials


Some years ago, Paul Alan Levy (Public Citizen) and I wrote extensively about "Dozens of suspicious court cases, with missing defendants, aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed." (Deindexing means hiding from Google search results.) Eventually, a federal court concluded there was "fraud on the Court" in one of the cases (Smith v. Garcia); Richart Ruddie, who ran several "reputation management companies" (including at least RIR1984 LLC and SEO Profile Defender Network LLC) agreed to pay $71,000 in sanctions.

A few months ago, though, someone (it's impossible to tell for sure who) asked Google to deindex Paul Alan Levy's motion for sanctions, which lays out some of the evidence related to all this:

SENDER Muhammad Sith [note that there's no reason to view this name as accurate] …
Sent on December 25, 2021
Copyright claim #1 …
DESCRIPTION Copied text and uploaded to a bot website that has malware on it.

The "allegedly infringing URL," which is what this deindexing request targets, is a copy of Levy's motion. I'm pretty confident that Google won't actually act on the request, but I just wanted to note that these sorts of attempts to get Google to vanish such materials.

The "original URL," for whatever it's worth, is someone's copy of a version of an amicus brief that I had filed in the California Supreme Court Hassell v. Bird case, which discussed Levy's and the court's findings in Smith v. Garcia. (The copy at that URL is actually of a redacted version of my brief that I had tried to file in part under seal: The redactions were aimed at keeping secret material about cases that were still under law enforcement investigation, but the court refused my motion for leave to file with redactions; on reflection, I think it was correct to so refuse. I then filed a fully open brief that just omitted certain materials, and that was the brief that the court accepted. But substantively, the "original URL" brief was pretty much the same as the finally filed version.)