Goggle has filed a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi. The suit comes in response to that state’s attempts to hold the company responsible for web search results that provide people with information on how to perform illegal acts, such as the downloading of pirated copyrighted information or the illegal acquisition of prescription medications.
Google claims that this is a case of freedom of speech and that Mississippi is violating its rights under the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.
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Google has already been dealt a major blow in Europe where the courts have ruled that the company can be held liable for any libelous information about an individual that comes up on its web searches.
The American Constitutional legal issues involved here are the stuff that make civil liberties lawyers like Alan Dershowitz salivate. They would argue that Google only provides people with information and that all information, even about how to commit a crime, is protected. The American courts have already dealt with these issues in the past ruling that it is not constitutional to ban the dissemination of books and the like which teach people how to make bombs in their garages or how to alter semi-automatic weapons to become fully automatic.
The suit also cites Federal statutes that protect computer service providers from state regulations. It states that third part content is protected under the Federal Communications Decency Act and that Mississippi State subpoenas against Google violate the Fourth Amendment because they affect legal conduct.
Google has sought to quash the subpoenas and a restraining order against the Mississippi Attorney general’s Office to block future subpoenas.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has already cried uncle and issued a statement on the matter in which he asks Google for a “time out.” While he did accuse Google of making money from illegal activities saying, “Google is raking in advertising dollars off of drug dealers, the same crime that the company was on probation for under a plea agreement with the federal government and the Rhode Island Attorney General.”
He also said, “I am calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail.”
“I will reach out to legal counsel Google’s board of directors to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the issues affecting consumers that we attorneys general have pointed out in a series of eight letters to Google.”