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Argentine Model Battles Google And Yahoo For Linking Her Photo To Porn Websites

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Argentine TV personality and model Maria Belen Rodriguez (Creative Commons)

Argentine TV personality and model Maria Belen Rodriguez (Creative Commons)

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BUENOS AIRES (CBS SF) — Argentine model and TV personality Maria Belen Rodriguez is neither a porn star nor an escort. But a Google search of her images directs users to websites that would say otherwise.

She’s suing Google and Yahoo for linking her images to adult websites. After an eight year battle, she’s now taking the fight to Argentina’s  high court.

“They [Google and Yahoo] have ruined my life,” Rodriguez, 29, told reporters last week, according to CNN. “Having to explain every day that I am not a prostitute is a daily complication.”

Rodriguez filed the lawsuit against Google and Yahoo in 2006 when she first learned that images of her were being linked to porn websites. She was awarded $15,000 in damages in 2010, which was eventually reduced to $6,200 by a higher Argentine Court, CNN reports.

The model wants her name unlinked to pornographic sites and is seeking further damages. “She has a family and young child,”  her attorney told reporters.

Google told CNN in a statement that “search engines are neutral platforms that do not create nor control content on the web.”

Internet freedom advocates agree, claiming the ability of individuals to manipulate their own search results is similar to press censorship. But the argument was challenged earlier this month after a European high court ruled that said individuals had the “right to be forgotten.” The ruling ordered Google to grant all individual requests to take down links containing “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant” information.

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Mountain View-based Google says it’s still figuring out how to comply with the European Court of Justice’s May 13 ruling, which says the company must respond to complaints about private information that turns up in searches. Google must then decide whether the public’s right to be able to find the information outweighs an individual’s right to control it — with preference given to the individual.

The judgment applies to all search engines operating within the European Union. But in practice that means Google, given that 90 percent of all online searches there use Google’s search engine.

“The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests,” Google spokesman Al Verney said. “This is logistically complicated, not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review. As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.”

Even with the news of the EU ruling, Rodriguez does not appear optimistic about what will results in her lawsuit. “I am an ant fighting against a giant monster,” she told reporters.

The Argentine Supreme Court heard arguments last week and is expected to make a decision in the next several weeks.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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