As the various search engines, lead mainly by Google, have become more and more important in every day life, it seems that some people seem to be assuming that they now represent some kind of body that must grant certain fundamental rights to people. That's why we've seen all these lawsuits from companies upset that their search ranking sucks. The latest case is even more ridiculous. Someone bought some gripe ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN, only to have them rejected. He then sued all three companies arguing that the search engines should be required to post his ads. The judge in the case appears to have made quick work of it, dismissing almost all of the claims and pointing out in no uncertain terms that many were specious and frivolous. As Eric Goldman points out, there are a few key points in the judge's decision. First, search engines have every right (as per the First Amendment) to decide what does and does not appear on their own websites. Second, section 230 of the CDA continues to do its job granting search engines immunity from being sued despite editorial decisions. And, finally, the court found that since search engines are private entities and not government bodies, there's no First Amendment claim to censorship should they reject an ad. Once again, it's nice to see a good decision backed up with good reasoning on a tech case of this nature.
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