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Privacy ruling forces Google to delete racy images

Google must remove from its search results photos of the former Formula One president at a sex party, a French court rules.

Max Mosley, the former President of Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), arrives at Portcullis House on March 19, 2013 in London, England.
Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

Photographs from a sex party could change Google's search results in Europe, as a French court ruled against Google in a privacy case on Wednesday.

The decision will force Google to hide from its global search results links to the photos, which depict Max Mosley, the former head of the International Automobile Federation, at a sadomasochistic orgy in 2008. The ruling by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris does not affect the Web sites that host the photos, only Google's results pointing to them.

Google said that it would appeal the decision. "This is a troubling ruling with serious consequences for free expression and we will appeal it," said Google's associate general counsel, Daphne Keller, in a statement published in the New York Times. "The French court has instructed us to build what we believe amounts to a censorship machine," she said.

Google said that it has already removed links to "hundreds" of results linking to the images.

Mosley has filed a similar lawsuit in Germany, with a ruling due early in 2014, clearly targeting countries with stronger privacy protections than the England or Google's home in the United States.

The former Formula One chief successfully sued British newspaper News of the World in a London court for violating his privacy, and was awarded approximately $96,000 in damages. The paper closed in 2011 following a phone hacking scandal.