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"Don't be Evil", Justice Minister tells Google

04 July 2019

Justice Minister Andrew Little has taken to Twitter to admonish Google for breaching name suppression orders in the Grace Millane case in December 2018.

Even though there was a clear name suppression order in place, Google emailed subscribers to its Trends service with the name of the man charged with her murder.

In a video clip posted on Twitter, Mr Little says making sure people get treated fairly whether as a defendant or as a victim is absolutely crucial.

"We've had a situation where, in a very important trial - the Grace Millane case - a newspaper, helped by Google, has published information that the judge said was suppressed... That's wrong and I've been a bit frustrated by Google not working out what the problem is and what they can do to help prevent this from happening again... My message to Google is 'don't be evil'. Do the right thing,” he says.

Mr Little says that since December, Google has not done anything to change its systems to ensure such a breach does not happen again.

Barrister takes issue

Wellington barrister Graeme Edgeler started a Twitter argument by responding to Mr Little: "The reasons for the name suppression ... are suppressed. Why on Earth would you release a video stating what the reason for the suppression was?"

Mr Little struck back, tweeting "You need to listen more carefully. I said a reason for temporary suppression orders is if there is a question of identification. I know nothing about the detail of this case. It would be wrong if I did."

Mr Edgeler disagreed, providing a transcript to Mr Little of what he had said - "with necessary redactions". The Minister appears to have decided to cease fire, encouraging Mr Edgeler to later state "Anyway, thank you very much for engaging".

Graeme Edgeler is almost certainly New Zealand's most prolific legal tweeter. A LawTalk survey of lawyers using social media in 2016 found he was well ahead of the rest.

Another count at 8 May 2019 found Mr Edgeler had maintained his position and had been responsible for 62,300 tweets since 2011.

New Zealand Lawyers using Twitter, 8 May 2019: Prolific users
LawyerFollowersLikesTweets
Graeme Edgeler4,8842,96762,300
John Edwards5,6566,03924,400
Rick Shera4,2081,84117,300
Felix Geiringer3,5292,45414,500
Arena Williams5,5913,5457,171

Last updated on the 16th September 2019