French court orders Google to delete racing exec’s sex video pics

In a troubling decision for free speech advocates, a Paris court has instructed Google(s goog) to scrub images that depict former Formula One chief, Max Mosley, participating in an S&M orgy with five German speaking prostitutes.

The case, reported by the Wall Street Journal, is a bellwether case in Europe for a so-called “right to be forgotten” on the internet and is notable because it holds a third party (Google) accountable for content posted by others.

The court order, which will be in force for five years, gives Google two months to comply, and requires the search giant to pay Mosley a symbolic damage figure of 1 euro as well as 5,000 euros in legal bills.

As we’ve argued before, the case is less a triumph for privacy than it is a victory for the rich and powerful of Europe to purge history. While Mosley, whose father was the head of the U.K. Fascist party, understandably wants to scrub an embarrassing episode, he is a public figure whose activities are the subject of legitimate public scrutiny. In the same way that celebrities have no right to order libraries to burn books, it’s unclear why the likes of Mosley should have the right to melt down search results.