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Google, Yahoo Dodge Gambling Lawsuit

By Taylor Pratt

According to a report from MediaPost, a California court has dismissed a lawsuit against Google and Yahoo for displaying gambling ads in their search results. The California Superior Court Judge, Richard Kramer, has granted immunity from liability based on the federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) to search engines.

Section 230 of the CDA says that operators of Internet services (in this case, search engines) are not to be held liable for words of third parties who use their services (i.e. AdWords). What isn’t immediately clear (to me, anyway) is whether or not the sites that advertise on Google and Yahoo can face legal action (assuming they were based in the U.S.).

According to Judge Kramer, because Google and Yahoo had already stopped accepting gambling ads in the U.S., there was no reason to issue an injunction. The lawsuit had dated back to 2004 when Google and Yahoo were sued by two California residents who had reportedly lost $100,000 gambling online. I’m glad to see that even after people turn 16 they still refuse to take responsibility for themselves.

Microsoft, Google and Yahoo paid $31.5 million last year to settle with the Justice Department for their promotion of gambling sites within the U.S. The CDA did not protect them in that case because the law contains an exception for some federal criminal cases (translation—you aren’t protected if it is the government who benefits).

Taylor Pratt is a Search Marketing Specialist for nFusion, a results focused marketing agency.