CNN reports that an Argentine court granted an injunction that blocks Google from using its suggestion algorithm, which leads to certain sites that have been deemed anti-Semitic, and removes the sites from the search engine’s index in that country.
The injunction, which names 76 sites and 13 search terms considered “highly discriminatory”, was filed by DAIA, an organization of Argentina’s Jewish community. It also prohibits Google from advertising on the stated websites.
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Although the ruling indicates that restrictions on freedom of speech and censorship is illegal under the Argentine constitution, it also notes that people are supposed to be protected from discrimination; therefore it is permissible to prevent the diffusion of certain content if they infringe on someone’s personal rights.
In a statement, the organization said that by suggesting these websites, Google is “inducing and directing traffic to sites with offensive and illegal content.”
Google’s policy statement attempts to wash its hands clean, stating:
“If you recently used Google to search for the word ‘Jew,’ you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google.”
“Although Google reserves the right to address such requests individually, Google views the comprehensiveness of our search results as an extremely important priority. Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it.”
Robert Faris, research director for the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard explains that the court actions in Argentina appear to view Google more as a publisher of information than as an intermediary, which reflects a misunderstanding of how the Internet works and how search engines work.