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Published:May 5th, 2006 08:26 EST

Google This: Lawsuit

By Maria Grella

A member of the Nassau County Legislature has brought a lawsuit against a major internet search engine.  Jeffrey Toback brings the suit against Google, claiming the company is making its earnings from pornography.  Toback filed the 16-page complaint with the state Supreme Court in Mineola, NY, “individually and on behalf of concerned citizens throughout the country.”  The complaint states the reasoning behind the legal action.  “This case is about a multi-billion dollar company that promotes and profits from child pornography,” Toback explains.  He claims that Google has paid links to websites that contain the objectionable material.  Rather than seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit is being pursued to stop the Mountain View, California-based company from “advertising relating to Web sites that display, market or otherwise provide illegal access to pornography.”

Before filing suit, Toback did not contact Google regarding their policies and practices.  Steve Langdon, a spokesman for Google, has denied the allegations, saying the company takes numerous steps in preventing access to child porn.  “When we find or are made aware of any child pornography, we remove it from our products, including our search engine.  We also report it to the appropriate law enforcement officials and fully cooperate with the law enforcement community to combat child pornography.”  He also added that Google offers SafeSearch, a filtering service that edits out adult content.

Toback, a self proclaimed ‘quality of life guy’, has put his support behind legislation that improves society’s standard of living.  He has sponsored local legislation that raised the age of teens buying cigarettes from 18 to 19, helped introduce legislation that limits teenagers’ access to tanning salons and has now set his sights on the search engine as a safety measure for our youth.  “This is a proactive step to keep children safe.  We had to go the judicial route,” says the married father of three.

The suit mentions actions Google has taken before relating to filtering certain terms.  The Chinese government demanded that words like ‘democracy’ and ‘Tibet’ be blocked from its search engine in China, to which Google complied.  “When it comes to the protection and well being of our nation’s innocent children, (Google) refuses to spend a dime’s worth of resources to block child pornography from reaching children or to filter out search terms such as ‘child pornography’ or ‘kiddie porn’ or the content to which such terms lead,” the complaint further stated.

An attorney representing Toback, Jeffrey Carton, says the case is not about revoking the First Amendment.  “The action is being brought by concerned community members seeking to prevent illegal content from being searched and accessed.”