States Threaten Action If Google Doesn’t Delist “Illegal Sites”

google-legal-cash-featured According to the Washington Post, 24 state attorneys general are trying to pressure Google to discontinue ads and the indexing of sites they argue teach or enable criminal activity. In particular, they continue to pressure Google to eliminate advertising connected to the sale of illegal or fake prescription drugs. The attorneys generals' complaints were initially aired in a December 2013 letter to Google General Counsel Kent Walker and then a follow-up letter sent in February 2014. The December letter lists the following complaints and concerns: These issues include: (1) Google's moneti [...]


US Court Says Baidu Has Free Speech Right To Censor Search

baidu-600 Late last week, Chinese search engine Baidu succeeded in gaining dismissal of a lawsuit by pro-democracy activists based in New York (Zhang et al. v. Baidu.com, Inc). Plaintiffs had sued in the US and argued that Baidu improperly blocked them from seeing content on the search engine. Specifically, according to Reuters, the plaintiffs said that people in the US couldn't access content (including their work) advocating greater openness and democracy in China. Among other remedies, they were seeking $16 million in damages. Ironically, the US District Court judge said that Baidu's right [...]


Microsoft: We Don’t Censor Search Outside China

bing-china-600 Bing censors search results in China in accordance with Chinese law. But does it do so in the US and elsewhere around the world for Chinese users? That disturbing proposition was raised yesterday in an article appearing in The Guardian. The article asserted that Bing search results for Chinese language speakers in the US were radically different than those in English for controversial terms such as Tiananmen Square or Dalai Lama: Microsoft’s search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the US in the same way it filters results in mainland China. S [...]


French Court Orders Google To Remove Max Mosley Images From Search Engine Results

Google logo After making a public plea for the European courts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Formula One president Max Mosley, Google found out today the French court has ruled in favor of Mosley and is forcing the search engine to censure search results. According to a report on Reuters.com, the French court has ordered Google to, "Remove and cease, for a period of five years beginning two months after this decision, the appearance of nine images identified by Max Mosley in the Google Images search engine results." To keep the images in question from showing up in search results, Google says it [...]


Could You Walk In Google’s Shoes? Making Tough Calls With Search Listings

It's pretty easy to sit back and slam Google for how you think it should make decisions when it comes to search listings. It's much harder to actually make those decisions, when you have a deeper understanding of all the implications involved. To experience this better, here's a chance to put yourself in Google's shoes and make some of the tough decisions. Below is a video from a special session we did at our SMX West search marketing conference earlier this year. Patrick Thomas, Google's search policy specialist and Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam fighting team, suggested a v [...]


Google Says European Law Does Not Support Mosley Lawsuit To Censor Search Results

Google Europe Yesterday, Google posted a plea on their Google Europe blog asking European courts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former Formula One president Max Mosley. The lawsuit requests that Google build a filter to identify and block what Mosley claims is unlawful content. A report on Bloomberg.com claims Mosley's lawyers filed a suit in a French Court, asking Google to create filters that could identify and remove content referencing "Nazi-themed" sex parties in association with Mosley.  A lawsuit has also been filed in Hamburg, Germany. In response to the lawsuit, Google's associate general cou [...]


Mississippi Attorney General To Subpoena Google For Illegal Sale Of Prescription Drugs

google-legal-law-featured Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music. "Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk," says Hood, "This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation." The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead. According to a [...]


State AGs: Google Still Allows & Profits From Illegal Drug Ads

Google legal The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is accusing Google of continuing to give consumers access to illegal and counterfeit goods -- including drugs -- in its search results, and is allowing sites that deal in such goods to advertise with Google. NAAG has asked Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page to discuss its concerns at a national meeting of state attorneys general that's happening June 17-19 in Boston. There's no formal statement that I can find on the NAAG website, but both USA Today and the Mississippi Business Journal are quoting that state's AG, Jim Hood, co-chair [...]


Google Refuses Hollywood Studio Requests To De-List File Storage Site Mega

dmca-google In recent weeks, Hollywood studios NBC Universal and Warner Bros both submitted DMCA takedown requests asking Google to de-list the file storage website Mega from its search index. According to a report on TorrentFreak, NBC Universal claimed Mega's homepage  linked to the NBC-owned film Mama, while Warner Bros alleged Mega made pirated copies of its film Gangster Squad available from its website. Since Mega's homepage doesn't link to any files, Google did not remove the website from its search index. Launched in January of this year, Mega is the successor site of Megaupload, a fil [...]


Hollywood Asks Google To Stop Listing Piracy Documentary, Claiming It’s Piracy Too

dmca-google The recently released TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay - Away from Keyboard, a documentary that sympathizes with the founders of the infamous file sharing website The Pirate Bay, has become the target of fraudulent link takedown requests from major Hollywood Studios, including Viacom, Paramount, Fox and Lionsgate. After its February release on The Pirate Bay website under a Creative Commons license making it free to download, Google has received multiple DMCA takedown requests asking that links to the film be removed from search results. The requests came through anti-piracy firms representing th [...]


Governments Across The Globe Are Making More Requests To Remove Content From Google Services

google-transparency-report According to a new Transparency Report released today, Google received 4,096 government requests to remove 42,249 pieces of content during 2012. The purpose of Google's Transparency Reports is to record the number of worldwide government requests to censor content on Google services, and offer insight into the amount of censorship happening across the globe. The latest report demonstrates an uptick in the number of requests to remove political content, as well as the number of areas where the requests originate. According to Google's announcement, "In this particular time period, we [...]


Privacy Vs Censorship: Google, Spanish Government Face Off In European Courts

google-eu-featured In a test case that could have significant implications for Google throughout Europe the company faced off against the Spanish data protection authority in the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. One could frame the case as "privacy vs. censorship." From the Spanish government's point of view its data protection authority is simply vindicating the recently articulated right (of individuals) "to be forgotten" -- to have content or data about them removed from the search index upon request. From Google's perspective, if the court agrees with Spain, the outcome would be tanta [...]


Google Transparency Report Now Showing False Takedown Requests

dmca-google TorrentFreak reports that Google updated their transparency report to now show the number and specific details on the false takedown requests attempted. You can see this level of detail by going to a specific takedown request. For example, looking at takedown request ID 266534 shows that of the 886 URLs reported for DMCA violations, 3% of them, or 24 URLs, Google decided not to take down. It is listed in the "no action taken" section. If you scroll down a bit, you can sort by that column and then click on the details to see specifically which URLs no action was taken against. Here [...]


Google Fined $208,000 In Australian Defamation Case, May Appeal

google-australia-200px Google has been told to pay the equivalent of $208,000 (USD) after recently losing a defamation case in Australia involving how it showed a 62-year-old man's name in search results. Google is examining the original jury verdict and may file an appeal. A judge in the supreme court of the Australian state Victoria issued the fine today and, according to Phys.org, compared Google's search results to that of an online publisher: Google Inc is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article," Beach said in his judgement. "While there might be no specific intention to [...]


China Blocks Google Search, Gmail, Google+, Maps & More

google-china-featured TheNextWeb reports China has decided to block Google services. Currently, Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Analytics, Google Drive, and other Google products are currently not working when trying to access them within China. TheNextWeb received confirmation from Google that China is indeed blocking their services. This is happening during the 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China. It is unclear if the block is temporary for the 18th Party Congress or if this is something that is more long term. GreatFire.org has more details on the block, show [...]


Google Loses Australian Defamation Case, Awaiting Decision On Damages

google-australia-200px Google is awaiting a judge's decision on damages before it decides what to do after losing a defamation case over its search results in Australia. A jury in the supreme court of the Australian state Victoria, ruled Tuesday that Google is liable for defamation because its search results connected the plaintiff, 62-year-old Milorad Trkulja, to phrases such as "Melbourne crime" and showed his photo near images of suspected members of Melbourne's organized crime scene. It's a complicated and strange case that the BBC details well. In short, my summary would go like this: the plaintiff wa [...]


Google Faces Autocomplete Lawsuit From Former First Lady Of Germany

bettina-wulff Google may be in trouble again over the automated suggestions that its Autocomplete feature provides to searchers. According to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (and also reported by TechCrunch), Bettina Wulff -- wife of the country's former president, Christian Wulff -- is suing Google because Autocomplete suggests prostitution-related terms when a searcher types her name into Google's search box. (The couple are shown in the photo above.) Indeed, searches this afternoon on both Google.de and Google.com reference terms like "escort" and "prostitute" in the Autocomplete suggesti [...]


Google Bans Weapon-Related Listings From Google Shopping

google-weapons-ban-featured Google has begun notifying merchants that it won't allow them to continue to listing weapons-related items for sale in Google Shopping. Searches in Google Shopping for things like "pistol grip shotgun" (above), "gun scopes," "shotgun shells" and many other terms are leading to a results page that says the term "did not match any shopping results." Outdoor Hub broke the news late last week, and linked to an online petition that includes a copy of the letter that Google has sent to affected merchants. The letter says that Google will "begin to enforce a set of new policies for Goog [...]


Google To Chinese Searchers: Your Search Interruptions Are Not Our Fault

Google announced on their blog that they have noticed an increase in complaints from searchers in mainland China. The issues they are reporting is that Google.com and searchers are not coming up, as if Google.com is down. So Google investigated their servers and operations and noticed no issues with anything on Google's side. So they ran some tests and were able to confirm that many queries lead to Google acting as if Google is unreachable. They produced a video showing this in action, where one query would work but then another query would lead to a response of either "This webpage [...]


Under Threat Of Being Blocked Google, Facebook Comply With India’s New Internet Censorship Rules

After China and the US, India is the third largest internet market in the world. But India has philosophically aligned itself more with China in pursuing a policy of censorship toward publication of content deemed "offensive" or "objectionable" by individuals, groups or the government. A recently enacted law seeks to remove all such content from the internet in India. Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were sued under the law and had been arguing in Indian court that it was all but impossible for them to comply as a practical matter. The law makes online publishers potentially liable for [...]


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