London, Sep 17, 2008 / 08:07 pm (CNA).- The internet search engine company Google has settled a lawsuit filed by the UK-based Christian Institute out of court after the company refused its draft advertisement concerning abortion law. The amicable settlement includes a policy change to permit religious groups to purchase Google advertisements for factual campaigns against abortion.http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/catholicnewsagency/dailynews/~4/395731359
Don’t get me wrong. I am prolife. But doesn’t this decision go against the whole notion of free speech? Is this not pushing the fairness doctrine which so many have been opposed to? What’s next? Will liberal radio stations be required to carry prolife ads? You see this unfair balance can be played from either side. No company should be required todo anything it doesn’t want to do.
But if it is factually accurate information, why should one company be prevented from advertising their information simply because they are Christian, whereas other companies are permitted to advertise the exact same information as long as they are secular?
I think there are circumstances when it is entirely reasonable to compel companies to do things which they don’t want to do, if it promotes the well-being for society. For example, corporations have taken pollution-control measures because they were compelled to do so. The same applies to workplace safety and the efficacy testing of medicines, etc.
As for the Fairness Doctrine, this case was in the UK, so I don’t think it will affect the FD. Granted, Google may change its policies worldwide, but it will be doing so voluntarily in most of the world, including the US.
As for free speech, yes, I am not at ease about the lawsuit. However, I am glad that an amicable agreement was reached. Given Google’s enormous footprint, their decision actually promotes free speech since the company will no longer restrict it unnecessarily. I think they are doing the right thing.
But it would be the same as telling a Christian internet site they must advertise for planned parenthood. It stinks of government control. Google and any other internet search engine should be allowed to turn away any advertising it wants. I’ll repeat myself, the next logical step after this is making it mandatory that liberal stations carry conservative ads. Well if that happens we would have to make the opposite mandatory as well. Otherwise the government is pushing one agenda over another. Let the free markets determine advertising and other things. Keep the government and the courts out of the picture.
It’s not the same. Google’s advertising service is not just another website. The analogy here is closer to telling a newspaper it can’t apply different standards to paid advertising based on the religious affiliation of whoever’s paying for it.
The Christian Institute wasn’t putting a religious slant on it in the ad. Sure, it’s pretty obvious what a Christian group has to say about abortion if it has anything to say about it, but content-wise there’s nothing wrong with the ad blurb: the only ‘mix’ of abortion and religion is in the name and site of the organization, and who advertises anonymously?
While it really is religious discrimination, I have no reason to suspect it was intentional on Google’s part. I would guess it was an honest attempt to avoid controversy and keep as many people content as possible – they just didn’t think it through too well, and it backfired. Google is usually pretty good about letting people talk: the more talk, the more there is to index and archive!
It stinks of government control.
Not at all, this was settled privately and out of court.
Let the free markets determine advertising and other things.
One of the cornerstones of the free market is the availability of information from all interested sources. This agreement enhances that availability by ending a double standard on who gets to put out information on the largest ad server in the world. A considerable body of interested people and organizations were being denied access to the free market by that policy; how free is that?
PS: yes, I am still a frothing liberal!