A SAN FRANCISCO COURT has ruled that Google's search results should be considered as free speech and protected by the same conventions.
The case came about after an outfit called Coast News complained that Google was pushing its site way down in search results.
The page has high rankings on other search engines such as Bing, according to Coast News, and the company believes that Google is ignoring it for anticompetitive reasons.
The Gigaom website said that Google responded to the claims with something called an anti-Slapp motion, a quick fire way to pack off free speech-challenging lawsuits.
Judge Ernest Goldsmith sided with Google, saying that the claims raised by Coast News relate to "constitutionally protected activity".
The court documents, shared through Gigaom, cite previous evidence in support of Google, including a decision from the US Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC has already investigated Google over antitrust allegations and ultimately decided that the web firm was doing nothing particularly competition-stifling.
Google welcomed the apparent seal of confidence from the regulator. "The conclusion is clear: Google's services are good for users and good for competition," it said.
However, the FTC added: "Undoubtedly, Google took aggressive actions to gain advantage over rival search providers."
We have asked Google to comment on the decision.
Google's lot is not so clear in Europe, where a succession of competition ministers have wrestled with complaints from the competition, and what, if any, response to make to them. µ
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