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May 5, 2006

Google Sued For Promoting Child Pornography


"Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, P.C., acting on behalf of Nassau County Legislator Jeffrey Toback, has filed a lawsuit against Google, Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG) charging the internet search giant with putting Child Pornography profits ahead of the well-being of children and community members." reports chron.com.

"This case is about a multi-billion dollar company that promotes and profits from Child Pornography," the complaint states, adding that Child Pornography "has become an obscenely profitable and integral part" of Google's business model.


The accusation sounds serious, but how could Google make profit from child pornography? The plaintiff says that Google has AdSense ads that promote child pornography. When I searched for "child pornography", no ad was shown. You can see the top three ads for "pornography" in the screenshot. Ironic, don't you think?

Results from Google Search for "child pornography" show non-profit organizations, anti-child pornography sites or talk about child pornography laws. So Google doesn't encourage child pornography or makes money from it.

Here's what AdWords policy says about adult-content ads:
* Ads are reviewed and categorized as "FamilySafe," "Non-FamilySafe," or "Adult Sexual Content" on a case-by-case basis.
* After our AdWords Specialists categorize the ads, Google generally allows ads containing adult themes, such as explicit sexual content, provided that they meet the conditions for AdWords advertising.
* These ads may not be accepted on our ad network of sites and products. Therefore, there is a possibility that your ads will appear only on Google search results pages.
* Advertising is not permitted for the promotion of child pornography or other non-consensual material.

Here's what the suit asks Google to do:

-- Prohibit on its Google site links or advertising relating to websites that display, market or otherwise provide illegal access to Pornography.

-- Prohibit access through the Google site to pornographers and traders in illegal pornography.

-- Comply with state and federal statutes relating to Child Pornography, including, without limitation, the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, which obliges Google to report violations of child pornography and obscenity laws.

-- Post warnings to purveyors and distributors of Child Pornography that their criminal activities are subject to monitoring and reporting to law enforcement agencies.

-- Provide filters and all other available technology to concerned Google site users to block the display and access to Child Pornography.

Most of these requests are not just absurd, but impossible to put into practice. How can GoogleBot know if a site provides illegal access to pornography? Google already has a safe-search option that filters adult-content sites, not just child pornography content.

I wonder why to sue Google just for child pornography? Google lets you find information about how to build bombs, how to get involved in criminal activities, how to commit suicide or how to scan and print money. Would this message be useful? I definitely doubt it.


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