Top Google executives have given Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern an assurance that they will look further into a name suppression breach in the case of a man charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in Auckland.
Ardern took advantage of her invitation to a dinner with Google executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, early today (NZT) to again raise the issue, after Justice Minister Andrew Little hauled Google staff in for an explanation in December.
"The Prime Minister raised the name suppression order and was given an assurance that Google will be looking further into it and will follow up with the Government in the near future," a spokesman for Ardern said.
It is not clear which Google executives attended the dinner for a small group of invitees, but chief executive Sundar Pichai had been at the forum to speak about artificial intelligence.
Millane, a university graduate, came to New Zealand in November last year as part of a year-long solo trip.
A 27-year-old Auckland man has been charged with murdering her between December 1 and December 2 last year, the weekend of her 22nd birthday.
She was last seen alive on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel in downtown Auckland with the man accused of murdering her. According to court documents, he was living at the Queen St hotel.
Millane's body was found in bush just off Scenic Drive in West Auckland's Waitakere Ranges on December 9.
The man charged with her murder has name suppression at least until the end of January but in mid-December Google NZ sent out an email to subscribers of its Google Trends alert system which named him.
Little called in Google executives for a meeting at the Beehive on December 18 to explain how it occurred.
Little and Attorney-General David Parker met Caroline Rainsford, director of Google New Zealand, Google NZ's senior manager of public policy Ross Young, and a Google legal team via conference call from California.
Young told media afterwards that Google received a notification about the name suppression four days after interim suppression was granted.
Asked why it had taken so long, Young said: "I don't know."
He said Google had a process in place that ensured court orders were properly reviewed, but Google would explore "what is possible in the future".
"We respect New Zealand law and we will respond to court orders when we get them. As you'll appreciate, there are trillions of web pages, dynamic and active, on the internet at the moment," he said.