Sue Google Over Links You Don't Like?

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Mark Maughan is a certified public accountant with the Brown & Maughan firm in Palos Verdes, California. As per a local NBC story (reported at, Mr. Maughan did a Google search on his own name and found results that he did not like. “Specifically, the search results falsely represent that plaintiffs Maughan and/or Brown & Maughan have been disciplined for gross negligence, for failing to timely submit a client’s claim for refund of overpayment of taxes, and for practicing as a CPA without a permit”. He is not complaining about the accuracy of any of the links, but that Google “reformats information obtained from accurate sources, resulting in changing of the context in which information is presented”, and that PageRank “scans the source, but in doing so, it’s not a literal transmission. A literal transmission would be fine.” He is proposing class action status.
So, what is next? Someone gave one of my books a bad review on, but he did not read the entire book and so his comments were out of context, should I sue And a whole bunch of Blog readers display just parts of RSS feeds and that information is therefore reformatted and out of context, so sue the reader creators? And I am sure I saw a “ColdFusion Sucks” thread somewhere, maybe there is a possible lawsuit against the list managers there too?
Does anyone else think it might be time to regulate the Internet? As in require that users be granted a license to get online, with degrees of access based on their competence, intelligence, and agendas? Hummmm.

7 responses to “Sue Google Over Links You Don't Like?”

  1. Steve Nelson Avatar
    Steve Nelson

    Nah. I don’t think it’s time to regulate the internet. Those cases should just be thrown out for pure stupidity.

  2. John Dowdell Avatar
    John Dowdell

    There’s precedent… the Church of Scientology has influenced Google’s listings, and of course China has just blocked Google wholesale.
    Ben, am I reading correctly that Maughan is objecting to the text extracted on Google’s "Search Results" page? If so, that does seem weak, particularly as he (or his lawyers) go for "class action suit" penalties instead of suggesting an improvement, or describing why he thinks his clients are incapable of clicking on the full-text link right there in front of their faces…. 🙁
    Steve, while I agree with your opinion, our opinions probably matter less than those who tell others what to do. In the US it’s an election year… if some media corporations whip up a publicity campaign then I betcha some senator will propose some type of "protection remedy". What you and I think often doesn’t matter as much as what lots and lots of others are told to think.
    "Does anyone else think it might be time to regulate the Internet? " The internet *is* regulated, and has been from the start… stupid sites don’t get visited as much as useful sites. What you’re asking is whether some people should regulate other people’s use of the internet, to which I’d offer a rather succinct yet admittedly crude response…. 😉

  3. Scott Barnes Avatar
    Scott Barnes

    Hi Ben,
    Heh thats just so sad, its getting so bad now with regards to lawyers just playing too much.
    As for regulate the internet? i think you’d have more of a chance of trying to get a monkey to sing like britney spears before you get peoples intelligence up to an agreed internet based level.
    I mean, if humans can’t even get the concept of an OFFRAMP on a highway right, its a big ask to make them think before they act.

  4. Rick Mason Avatar
    Rick Mason

    I believe we need tort reform, not regulation of the Internet.
    In Britain if I recall correctly if you bring a nonsense lawsuit you automatically pay the other parties legal expenses if you lose. It would put an end to some of this nonsense.

  5. Ben Forta Avatar
    Ben Forta

    Oh, I was being facetious, I was not seriously suggesting any sort of regulation (although there are people who I seriously would like to see regulated in some capacity).
    JD, I am almost inclined to agree with you, but with some of the utterly ridiculous lawsuits that have indeed been won over the past few years … <shudder>
    Rick, tort reform is a must, and the British system does have benefits. But it also have one big downside, little guys there are scared to sue big guys, even for a legitimate case, because if they lose they’ll be bankrupted. It’s a tough one.

  6. Michael Ramirez Avatar
    Michael Ramirez

    Who would ever think that somebody would sue McDonalds for making them fat!

  7. Steve O'Neill Avatar
    Steve O’Neill

    Not regulation, too complicated but maybe Internet version 2 i.e. the network where only registered companies and intelligent people can surf. Just imagine. Desktop 1 has the current version where you can surf porn, get viruses, and waste your time And Desktop 2 has Internet version 2 where you can view professional sites and read stimulating content from intelligent people like me 🙂

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