On 22 November 2022, a High Court (HC) sitting in Lagos, in a precedent-setting decision, dismissed a multi-million-Naira claim on the liability of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or internet intermediary for defamatory third-party content published through a digital platform, against Google.
In this case, the Claimant, a businessman, sued a blogger (1st Defendant), Google LLC (Google), and Google Global Services Nigeria Ltd (Google Nigeria) for online defamation in connection with a post made by the blogger between 6 and 12 April 2012 on the Blog which is hosted on Google’s Blogger.com platform. The said post elicited some defamatory comments from third party commenters on the 1st Defendant’s Blog, although the original post itself appeared innocuous.
In the resolution of the issue of liability for online defamation, the HC held that the 1st Defendant was liable for online defamation because her blog post initiated the chain of events that led to the defamatory comments from third-party commenters and was, therefore, the enabler of the defamatory contents about the Claimant.
The HC, however, found and agreed with TEMPLARS’ argument on behalf of Google that Google is not liable for the online defamation because Google operates the Blogger Service platform as a mere internet intermediary who was neither the author, editor nor publisher of the defamatory contents.
The HC also agreed that Google had no actual knowledge (and could not be reasonably expected to have had actual knowledge) of the defamatory content.
The TEMPLARS’ team was led by Sadiq Ilegieuno, a partner in the Disputes Resolution & METIS (Media, Entertainment, Technology, Intellectual Property and Sport) Practice Groups and assisted by Associates, Collins Ogbu and Lawal Kazeem.