Friday, October 03, 2014

America Income Life Ins Co v Google NDAL :: Dismissed Per Sec. 230(c) :: Case Summary


Facts Plaintiffs American Income Life Insurance Company and Scott Sonnenberg (collectively "plaintiffs") filed this action in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Bessemer Division, against Google and "X and Y, fictitious parties operating websites Google, Inc., chooses to reward with prominent placement in all its search engine results, known only to Plaintiff[s] as operators of `' and `'" Specifically, plaintiffs allege: The Fictitious Defendants' banners and content, broadcast via Defendant Google, Inc.'s search engine throughout Alabama, via hundreds of thousands of computer terminals, violates the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act by falsely asserting that "American Income Life is a Scam."

Cause of Action: The substance of plaintiffs' Complaint is that certain business practices by defendants violate the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Defendant moves to dismiss pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 230(c), The Good Samaritan Provision of the Communications Decency Act.

Rule: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1).

Analysis "Google cannot be held liable for search results that yield content created by a third party."

[T]he only allegations in the Complaint about actions taken by Google in support of the conclusory allegation that Google "intentionally disparaged the goods, services, or business of Plaintiff by false and/or misleading representations of fact" are that Google "offer[s] dozens of product and services, including various forms of advertising and web applications," "determine[s] which [web pages] offer `content of value,'" "assess[es] the importance of every web page," "touts its patented `Page Rank' algorithm," "analyze[s] which sites are the `best sources of information across the web' for its seller-assisted marketing plan," "afford[s] prominent placement in its search engine broadcasting to the Fictitious Defendants," and "broadcast[s]" the "fictitious defendants' banners and content." After careful review of the Complaint, the court finds that plaintiffs clearly allege that Google is an interactive computer service, but not an information content provider because there are no allegations that Google originated, developed, or modified the disputed content. Instead, the face of the Complaint alleges that Google assesses the value of content across the internet and "broadcasts" the content provided by and via its search engine. Without allegations that Google creates the disputed information, specifically the alleged false and misleading representations, plaintiffs' efforts to treat Google as the publisher of those representations fail under § 230. See [47 U.S.C.] § 230(f)(3).

The Complaint contains no allegation that Google created any content that represented American Income Life as a scam. Although the gripe sites's content was broadcast and/or returned as a result of keyword searches of "American Income Life" on Google's website, the Complaint does not allege that Google created or otherwise developed any content stating that American Income Life is a scam.
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