Hogan Lovells wins COVID-19 misinformation case for Google before the Court of Milan

Press releases | 13 August 2021

Milan, 13 August 2021 – A legal team at global law firm Hogan Lovells, including Alberto Bellan, Marco Berliri, Michele Traversa and Ambra Pacitti, has successfully assisted Google before the Court of Milan. Along with the in-house lawyers Marilu Capparelli and Marta Simoni, our team secured a win in two urgency proceedings filed by Byoblu Edizioni following the suspension of its YouTube channel.

The case, which was also subject to a parliamentary debate, focussed on the suspension of Byoblu's YouTube channel following the publication of some videos deemed by Google to be in clear violation of its policies against misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its first instance and appeal judgments, the Court of Milan rejected Byoblu's claims in their entirety, noting that: "in the case at stake there is no infringement of the right of the complainants to freely express their thoughts and/or to exercise their right to information and to bring to the attention of their subscribers and users their ideas and opinions, including those relating to the COVID-19 pandemic [...] as it is not recognizable, even abstractly, beyond and apart from the contract, an obligation of Google to ensure the complainants the exercise of the freedom of art. 21 Cost. or their right to inform their subscribers and publicly express their opinions through Google social media".

This is the second COVID-19 misinformation case before the Court of Milan focussing on video content in violation of YouTube’s policies. In the first case, last January, the Court of Rome ruled that the platform had the powers to remove videos in violation of its policies, adding that statements about the pandemic that are not supported by any empirical evidence or by national and international health authorities, such as the Istituto Superiore della Sanità and the WHO, must be removed.