Google Liable for Links?

googlelogokids.gifImagine that you are new to town but need to visit the doctor. Like many people in your situation, you’d likely consult the Yellow Pages. What happens if that doctor commits malpractice? Should you be able to sue the Yellow Pages for the referral?

This situation is no longer hypothetical. Google is being sued for leading people to child porn sites. Here’s the scoop from C-Net:

Jeffrey Toback, a representative in New York’s Nassau County Legislature, charged in a complaint filed Thursday that Google has been taking in billions of dollars by allowing child pornography and “other obscene content” operators to advertise their sites through sponsored links, which are tailored to a user’s search terms and automatically accompany search results. The suit was filed in the New York Supreme Court. […]

The suit, which claims Google acted negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the public, requests monetary damages to be determined at trial. It also accuses Google of violating federal statutes relating to child pornography and calls for the court to order that Google cease “advertising, promoting, or distributing” child pornography through its site or otherwise providing any links to such content.

It’s important to note that Toback has “also co-sponsored a law designed to protect teenagers from tanning beds and has planned this year to pursue a ban of toy guns in the area.”

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

6 Comments
  1. …which claims Google acted negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the public…

    Since when is google responsible for something they CANT control, namely the thoughts and feelings of other people?

    It also accuses Google of violating federal statutes relating to child pornography and calls for the court to order that Google cease “advertising, promoting, or distributing” child pornography through its site or otherwise providing any links to such content.

    Heck, if the user does a “child porn” search on google, then the google search engine is going to do it’s job and SEARCH. Google is responsible for their services as well as making sure their scripts for the search engine and other goodies are working properly, BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT USERS ARE SEARCHING FOR ON THEIR SEARCH ENGINE.

    If Tobak has his way, then he’ll be just as bad as what China is doing regarding the internet.

  2. The government solution to this will be of course mean it costs too much, takes away too much freedom, and get bungled terribly.

    However:

    This is not the free search service Google provides. Google is being sued because of the sponsored (paid) links. This would be similiar to selling child porn with ads in the New York Times.

    No matter how libertarian you are, that’s a tough position to support =)

  3. I went to all those sponsored links and I never could find any child porn! I GOT RIPPED OFF!

  4. Karmal — not if Google isn’t aware they are illegal links. That’s why I used the Yellow Pages analogy.