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Poor Consumer Review Could Change the Way Google Handles Data

A bad review for a dentist in Melbourne could force Google to alter its normal operating practices. Click here to learn about the case and why it matters.   

Companies deal with bad reviews all the time. Some are legitimate and need attention, but others are often simple misunderstandings or even entirely fraudulent. In the case of a dentist in Melbourne, one unfortunate remark could require a global search engine giant to alter their standard operating practices. Learn more about how a new court battle over a poor consumer review could change the way Google handles data.

What Happened with an Australian Dentist and Google?

Before we can discuss how this incident could change how they handle data, we need to first talk about what happened. Recently, an Australian dentist named Matthew Kabbabe received a poor review on Google from a user with a semi-anonymous username. The posting alluded to the dentist being rough, awkward, and that he had no experience. Kabbabe took great offence to this, citing that the review directly harmed his ability to do business with patients all around the country. During interviews, he has even gone on to say that it might be a false review by a former employee or a competitor.

After going through Australia’s Federal Court, a judge determined that Kabbabe had grounds to mail an order to Google’s United States headquarters asking for the anonymous reviewer’s name, IP address, and phone number for use in a defamation lawsuit.

He initially contacted Google directly via email for the information, but the company stated that they did not keep records of such information. The judge disagreed and allowed the dentist to request the data through the court system formally.

How Does This Ruling Effect Businesses Around the Globe?

It is still very early in the process. Nevertheless, an official ruling stating that Google has to provide user information could mean significant changes across the board for all businesses around the globe. How so?

Companies that feel slighted by ruthless reviewers could start to request consumer information for future defamation lawsuits. In turn, this could mean an uptick in similar cases and ultimately lead to less honest reviews by consumers.

Another potential ramification is that Google could change how they utilise consumer data. They were previously criticised in Australia for failing to alert users how it chose to retain personal information and this new case could make the argument for transparency that much more reliable.

How Does International Law Affect This Case?

This is where things get a little unusual. Google’s headquarters are the United States where laws are different in terms of defamation. There, the Consumer Review Fairness Act prevents companies from penalising reviewers for leaving negative responses online. In Australia, no such law exists, meaning small businesses like Dr. Kabbabe can go through the justice system for reparations or to have the review removed.

How Could This Affect Melbourne Companies?

Businesses across Australia are watching this case closely, as it really could have an impact on how Melbourne companies deal with negative reviews. It could also mean that Google must face stricter penalties for not being transparent with data, which would trickle down to smaller businesses if laws and sanctions grow tighter.

Steadfast Solutions helps companies across Melbourne with all of their tech needs. We will certainly continue to monitor what happens and how it might impact our customers.

Ready to learn more about what we can help you with? Please contact our knowledgeable and courteous Steadfast Solutions team today for details.