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Law Prof Volokh Argues Google Has a Free Speech Right to Determine Search Results

Posted May 14, 2012 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Search engines have the same First Amendment rights to determine their results as newspapers do to choose news stories, according to a white paper co-authored by UCLA law professor and First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh.

The paper (PDF), commissioned by Google, is likely aimed at preventing the government from regulating search results on antitrust grounds, reports PaidContent.org. The white paper asserts that antitrust law is limited by the First Amendment “and may not be used to control what speakers say or how they say it.” That protection extends to decisions to exclude advertising based on content, Volokh writes.

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating whether Google is abusing its dominance to promote its own products, such as YouTube and Google Maps, according to the Hill’s technology blog Hillicon Valley.

The white paper, posted at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, lists Mayer Brown partner Donald Falk as co-author.

Hat tip to Poynter.

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