Google Caves to Giuliano Mignini’s Italian Court – Deletes Frank Sfarzo Blog Perugia Shock

Well for the last two years, we have relied on the blogging and journalism of Frank Sfarzo on his site Perugia Shock to follow the Amanda Knox case.  Not anymore.  With the stroke of a delete key, Google Inc. caved in to a questionable Italian court order requiring the removal of the blog.  (For more information, check out the story in the West Seattle Herald.)  After all his years fighting the corruption of Giuliano Mignini, all that is left of Frank’s blog is a fine red mist.  When I first read the news, it didn’t exactly make sense because Google can’t really delete websites, it can only remove the pages from its index.  But then I remembered that Frank’s blog is hosted on blogger.com, which is owned by Google.  Google could not take the same steps against blogs hosted independently, like this blog for example. But am I the only one who is surprised by this step that Google has taken?  It seems to be part of a larger trend where Google seems to be going down the drain. Google has been complicit in censorship by the Chinese government in the past, not to mention that the Google search results have been losing the battle against spam the last couple of years. No wonder Google’s stock has been tanking recently.  And in particular, Google seems to let itself get pushed around too much by the Italian government.  Remember the Google execs that were convicted last year because they hosted a video the Italians found offensive?  Or how about last month, when Google was forced to manually fix its autosuggest algorithm because the Italian public was too often searching for the names of Italian politicians with the term “crook” at the end?  Maybe the U.S. State Department needs to step in here.  What if an Iranian court ordered Google to remove a site that criticized Ahmadinejad?  Would google remove that site?  Because I could point them to about 10,000.

Take a look at Google’s Blogger content policy here.  In what way did the Perugia Shock site violate these policies?  I love how the Google policy states: “It is our belief that censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression.”  What a joke.  I think if Google will cave in to censorship orders of foreign governments, then they have a legal duty and obligation to tell blog writers of this fact at the outset.  That way bloggers such as Frank Sfarzo can chose to select other blogging platforms at the very beginning.

The interesting thing about the decision by Google, is that they did not remove all the Perugia Shock posts from their Google index, either in the American Google or the Italian Google.it.  So the the cached pages still exist online, see here for example.  These cached pages won’t last very long, however, because the search engine will quickly re-index the pages within a few weeks.  I heard a rumor from other Amanda Knox supporters tonight on Facebook that Frank Sfarzo might be working right now as we speak on converting his old blog onto a WordPress blog.  Let’s hope he does so.

Those following the harassment of Frank Sfarzo by Italian authorities might not be surprised by the news.  We have seen the thuggish way that he has been treated by Mignini.  But I am still shocked that an American business would be cowed into complying with the court order without a fight.

Like Michelle Moore said on her website a few minutes ago, this step that the Italian court has taken will ultimately hurt Giuliano Mignini and help Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.  How much longer are we going to allow this nightmare to continue?

7 Responses to “Google Caves to Giuliano Mignini’s Italian Court – Deletes Frank Sfarzo Blog Perugia Shock”

  • Michelle Moore:

    Thank you so much for informing us. Will spread the word.
    PS If you own Google stock, I think selling right about now would be good.
    Then in a month when it’s on sale, buy it right back! 🙂

  • Evergreen:

    Looks like Perugia Shock is back up and running via a wordpress page and a Swedish Server. Good to see that. I was beginning to wonder if it would get back up and running it would be via Sweden or Switzerland. If anything, those countries tend to be neutral.

    //blog.seattlepi.com/dempsey/2011/05/13/sweden-rescues-italian-amanda-knox-blog-google-are-you-watching-2/

    Although for Italy, the damage may have been done. Making Google.it shut Perugia Shock down in the first place, makes it look like they have something to hide. I would like to know if Google’s management in the USA even knew what Google.it was doing here? I find it hard to believe a company that said enough is enough on censorship in China would give into Italy, but then again, this was their third strike with the Italian system.

  • Steve Graham:

    Hi Evergreen. Thanks for that link. I love Candace’s articles, but i sometimes notice that the server for the PI is overloaded. Is it just the case that the site gets overwhelmed with traffic? I know after the Lifetime movie, my site almost crashed with a lot of visitors.
    Anyway, I look forward to that blog being up again and will definitely link to it. My guess is that the decision to pull the plug on Perugia Shock was made in Mountain View, CA, but that is just a guess.

  • Evergreen:

    The Seattle PI probably gets a lot of traffic on the site because they are more of an online News Agregator now, since they went to on-line only. Could be traffic, sometimes when criticism is high, it only leads to more people wanting to know what they are saying. I try not to comment too much on the stories the PI and KIRO FM(They moved the news and talk format off the AM Frequency), because of the back and forth exchanges. In the sound-offs on PI.com, they can get heated at times. Plus, I take my time posting, being first, is sometimes not important, than getting it right. I noticed the CPJ has taken some heat from commenters on their blog for responding to this case, but they said they only were responding to the harassment of journalists, the CPJ said they took no position either way on Guilt or Innocence. I admire CNN’s Drew Griffin, for at least trying to interview Mignini, and he had a couple of interpreters and lawyers ready.

  • Steve Graham:

    I sometimes forget that the PI is only online now. When I lived in Seattle the year after I got out of law school, I used to subscribe. By the way, I noticed that there have been two sites set up – perugiashock.com and peruguia-shock.com. Not sure which one to link to!

  • Barry_T:

    I came across your blog thanks to a Yahoo search. Thank you for taking up Amanda’s cause. If you’d like to make your views on Perugia Shock and Amanda Knox’s trial in general, here are two addresses:
    President of Italy address:

    His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano
    President of the Italian Republic
    Palazzo del Quirinale
    00187 Roma
    Italia
    1. Via email: presidenza.repubblica@quirinale.it

    The Honorable Silvio Berlusconi
    President of the Council of Ministers
    Presidenza del Consiglio dei ministri
    Palazzo Chigi
    Piazza Colonna 370
    00186 Roma
    Italia

  • It’s scary knowing that Google can remove your site just like that, if you’re hosted somewhere owned by them like Blogger.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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