Thanks to Marty Singer and his brave clients, Google is finally having to face up to how it exploits women. The New York Post reports that Marty threatened Google with legal action if Google didn’t promptly stop distributing the hacked photos. Of course, you’d have to live under a rock not to know that these photos were out there, so there’s a real question of whether Google could pass the red flag knowledge threshold to even be able to seek a safe harbor in the first place. Not to mention that there’s no safe harbor for right of publicity misappropriation as Goldiblox found out the hard way courtesy of the Beastie Boys.
It’s unfortunate that it takes celebrities to force Google to slither into the daylight and the circumstances are tragic. But–what Google is doing to Jennifer Lawrence and the other women affected by Google’s trading on their names and likenesses is little different than the way it treats women in general.
Here’s a few examples of Google’s war on women:
–the Utoopi escort Android app and YouTube promotional video. It took Members of Congress calling them out and bipartisan reporting by women at both Firedoglake and Red State to get Google to take down an escort app marketed at women students encouraging them to schedule tricks around their classes.
–Parents complaining to Google that the Google+ social network is “a virtual playground for online predators and explicit sexual content“.
–YouTube distributing a channel for “Seeking Arrangement”, the sugar daddy/sugar baby website allegedly used to connect a murdered Google employee with the escort accused of killing him. The channel features videos suggesting that becoming a sugar baby is a way for young women to pay off their college loans, afford health care among other things.
–Distribute sex tourist videos on YouTube including one using the music of Jack White monetized by Asian “dating” advertising and Apocalyptica.
Marty’s clients’ complaint is also timely for a different reason: Congress is currently trying hard to pass the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2014 (or the “SAVE Act”) to stop Google and others from profiting from online advertising of human trafficking. It will come as no surprise that the bill is meeting opposition from Google and others. According to the Daily Beast:
Lawmakers are trying to pass a landmark bill to halt child trafficking, but congressional aides say it is facing resistance from big tech companies that have launched a stealth campaign to fight the legislation….Both human trafficking and forced prostitution are already illegal. But what Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Ann Wagner, who are pushing the initiative in the Senate and House, respectively, seek to do is create liability for those helping make the connection between pimps and johns….
“The Googles of the world are in a tough spot. They’re not going to speak out publicly against a human trafficking measure. But they also are opposed to it,” said a Wagner legislative aide. According to the aide, negotiations with tech associations usually lead to suggestions that legislation enhance penalties for pimps or johns, rather than online advertisers.
It’s difficult to understand why any legitimate company could be “opposed” to cracking down on profit from human trafficking and what possible justification Google could give for launching an astroturf campaign against the legislation. Celebrities may have been duped by Google’s “don’t be evil” charm offensive, but they are now experiencing their own version of exploitation at Google’s hands. We have to thank them for having the courage to stand up to the Leviathan of Mountain View and encourage them to continue their crusade to help others who are routinely exploited by this multinational and politically connected media giant.