Presiding Judge Gregor Galke, from the Federal Court of Justice, ruled on Tuesday that "a general responsibility to regulate is incompatible with the function of search engines," adding that forcing Google and others to check every link would practically paralyze the service.
“Without the help of such search engines it would be impossible for individuals to get meaningful use out of the internet due to the unmanageable flood of data it contains,” said the court in a statement.
“Instituting a general duty to inspect the content would seriously call into question the business model of search engines, which is approved by lawmakers and wanted by society.”
The verdict came after a German couple brought a case against Google, arguing that the US-based internet company should be responsible for blocking links to sites where they said they were defamed.
The German court, however, said Google was supposed to act on links where users have reported “concrete evidence” of violations of law, such as child pornography or acts of violence.
Calls for removal of online content directly related to people are part of a broader debate dubbed the “right to be forgotten” which came in May 2014, when the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that individuals can request search engines to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for their names. Google has accepted to remove more than one million website links since then.
The ruling to exempt Google from monitoring search results comes against the backdrop of similar calls on European regulators to force internet companies to improve their monitoring of the content, especially those related to violence. The advocates of such calls argue that many of the attacks launched against civilians in Western Europe over the past years have been orchestrated using social networks or have been inspired by online content.
Those providing social networking services like Facebook or video-sharing website YouTube have actively sought to increase checks in a bid to avoid punishments.