South Africa 17.2.2017 01:06 pm

Parks Tau’s wife asks Google to remove unflattering articles about ‘corruption’

SALGA president and president of the United Cities and Local Governments Parks Tau delivers his acceptance speech during SALGA's National Conference held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, 01 December 2016. Picture: Refilwe Modise

SALGA president and president of the United Cities and Local Governments Parks Tau delivers his acceptance speech during SALGA's National Conference held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, 01 December 2016. Picture: Refilwe Modise

The search giant said no.

According to MyBroadbandGoogle’s latest transparency report, the wife of Johannesburg’s former mayor requested the global search giant stop providing links to search results for old articles about alleged corruption involving herself and her husband.

Most of these stories appear to be a number of years old and linked to when Tau was the political head of the finance department in 2006. Allegations later emerged linking his wife, Pilisiwe Twala-Tau, to a R10 million shareholding in an empowerment consortium. In 2006, Tau was the political head of the finance department, and therefore responsible for the awarding of tenders.

Tau asked both the council’s internal integrity and ethics committee to investigate the allegations in 2012 when he was mayor. Not much seems to have come from the matter, however, and neither Tau nor his wife have been charged.

While Google does not specifically name Tau or his wife, Tau was the city’s mayor until August last year.

Google receives “take-down” requests for more than 1 million websites, with the most valid and common reason for these being copyright infringements.

“According to the report, Google removed 2.13 billion URLs from its search results which linked to copyright-protected material,” reported MyBroadband.

Google also, however, received a take-down request from the “wife of the mayor of Johannesburg”, but ignored this because it wasn’t being compelled by any court order, and the articles concerned did not violate a law or Google’s policies.

Google explained what happened as follows:

Request: The wife of the mayor of Johannesburg requested we delist articles from Google Search suggesting that her husband used his position to advance her economic interests.

Outcome: We did not delist any URLs.

The Citizen decided to do a Google search on the topic, and a few articles still showed up.

There are no other probable candidates for who Google might be referring to other than Tau and his wife.

Tau’s predecessor was Amos Masondo, who held the position for 11 years, from 2000 to 2011, and was never linked to any alleged improprieties with his wife, though he will always be remembered for overseeing the biggest billing crisis in the city’s history.

Google hasn’t taken down any articles about that either.

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