A ruling asserted that search results on Google are protected under the First Amendment, in yet another victory for the search engine giant.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google on Thursday, in a suit filed by S. Louis Martin, the owner of a website called The Coast News. Martin argued that Google was putting his site’s search results too far down, compared to the more favorable search placement Coast News received on smaller search engines like Yahoo and Bing.
Google filed a SLAAP, a strategic lawsuit against public participation, against Martin, which allows a judge to throw out cases early on that intend to stifle free speech rights. The judge agreed that Martin’s suit was indeed intended to control Google’s constitutionally protected freedom, and the suit was dismissed.
The judge agreed that Google is allowed to arrange search results however it sees fit, despite the fact that regulation of search results has gained some traction in Europe. A Google-commissioned white paper from 2012 says that Google is protected under the First Amendment because it “uses sophisticated computerized algorithms, but those algorithms themselves inherently incorporate the search engine company engineers’ judgments about what material users are likely to find responsive to these queries.”