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May 5, 2006

Google Sued Over Alleged Ad Promotion of Child Porn

A legislator from Nassau County, New York has sued Google claiming that the company knowingly profits from paid listings that include links to child pornography.  Jeffrey Toback said that since Google is beyond the purview of the county legislature, that the judicial route was the only alternative he had.  Most of the articles on this action note that Yahoo! or MSN were not mentioned in the suit.

Google denies the claims in the suit citing company policy of removing such links when discovered and cooperating fully with law enforcement agencies in child pornography investigations.  It makes no sense whatsoever for a company such as Google, or for that matter, any of the other major search engines to knowingly promote child pornography.  If Mr. Toback had discovered child pornography on the web through Google, he should have reported it to the FBI or other appropriate agency who could take action.  No word in any of the stories as to whether he contacted them or Google in advance of his suit.  I can't imagine Google or any of the major search engines ignoring a child pornography report if that were the situation. 

Without more information, it appears as if this guy is grandstanding.  Part of the complaint, for example, slams Google for bowing to censorship pressures in China while doing nothing to protect "our nation's innocent children."  There is no question child pornography is bad and illegal.  There are more direct routes through law enforcement for handling this scourge than a civil suit.  It is, however, an election year.

See reports in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, CIO, and the Houston Chronicle.  The most detail is in the latter story as it reprints the press release from the Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, P.C. law firm who are the attorneys in the case.  Excerpts from the complaint are in the Chronicle's "story."  Search Engine Journal has an example of the ads served up via Google that are the subject of the complaint. 

May 5, 2006 | Permalink

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