Geopolitics

Argentine Model Suing Yahoo, Google Over Porn And Prostitution Links

The Supreme Court in Argentina is weighing the case brought by María Belén Rodríguez, whose name redirects to X-rated sites in the major search engines.

Argentine Model Suing Yahoo, Google Over Porn And Prostitution Links

BUENOS AIRES — The battle between privacy and freedom of information on the Internet is clearly global.

While Google has just announced that it will comply with a European Union court ruling to give its citizens the right to delete digital information, Argentina's Supreme Court is weighing the arguments of a case brought by model María Belén Rodríguez against search engines Yahoo! and Google for allegedly directing users to porn sites when they type her name.

Lawyers for the Internet companies have argued that search engines should be able to show the contents of websites without incurring legal responsibility.

But María Belén's lawyer Alejandro Arauz Castex said this was causing enormous harm. "You type Belén into the search engine and the first result is María Belén Rodríguez nude, and if you continue, there's a page with pornography. Not philosophy or literature, but pornography," he said.

He added that the action was not seeking the search engines to eliminate the offending contents but to ensure viewers were not led directly to "false links." Google's lawyer asked if Argentine law was contemplating making search engines responsible for "controlling Internet content," and said Google always removed links "whenever illegal content is precisely identified."

The Supreme Court is expected to decide on the case, which was first filed in 2006, in the next several weeks.

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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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