Feeds

Judge rules Baidu political censorship was an editorial right

Search engine results get freedom of speech protection in the US

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Chinese search giant Baidu has evaded a lawsuit launched in the US by a pro-democracy group who claimed that the search engine was illegally suppressing political speech.

The New York residents, who advocate for greater democracy in China, said that Baidu was unlawfully blocking US articles and information about the democracy movement in China and related topics. The claimed that Baidu had implemented algorithms on behalf of the Chinese government to block its users from seeing these political topics.

The plaintiffs were looking for $16m in damages for violations of their civil rights.

But the district court judge ruled that the First Amendment protected search results as free speech and dismissed the case.

"Allowing plaintiffs to sue Baidu for what are in essence editorial judgements about which political ideas to promote would run afoul of the First Amendment," Judge Jesse Furman wrote in his ruling, pointing out that users dissatisfied with Baidu's search results did have the option to search using another engine like Google or Bing.

Furman also said that there was a strong argument to be made that the First Amendment protected any search results from "most, if not all" types of civil liabilities or government regulations.

"The central purpose of a search engine is to retrieve relevant information from the vast universe of data on the Internet and to organise it in a way that would be most helpful to the searcher. In doing so, search engines inevitably make editorial judgments about what information (or kinds of information) to include in the results and how and where to display that information," the judge wrote.

"To allow plaintiffs' suit to proceed, let alone to hold Baidu liable for its editorial judgments, would contravene the principle upon which our political system and cultural life rest: That each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration and adherence."

Stephen Preziosi, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that they planned to appeal the ruling.

"The court has laid out a perfect paradox: That it will allow the suppression of free speech, in the name of free speech," he told Reuters. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?