THE INTERNET EMPIRE Google has rushed to court in Spain to defend itself.
Spain's data protection authority has ordered Google to remove almost 100 online articles from its search listings. The links are to articles in newspapers, including El País, and official gazettes where there have been complaints of defamation.
Google has warned that censoring these articles would have a "profound, chilling effect" on freedom of expression.
Google will challenge the orders in a Madrid court on Wednesday, and the outcome could set a controversial precedent for Internet publishing in Spain.
At the moment an injunction against search engines is the only way to block access to sensitive material published online. Newspapers in Spain have the right to tell the government to go forth and multiply.
Google says it acts only as an intermediary, and therefore it cannot be held responsible for content on the Internet.
Peter Barron, Google's director of external relations for Europe, told the Guardian that the company was disappointed by the actions of the Spanish privacy regulator.
Spanish and European law hold the publisher of material responsible for its content. µ