[T]he judicial treatment of Google as a fully protected First Amendment speaker is dangerous precedent. Google is an advertising machine, and as a publicly traded company its directors are obligated to increase the value of the organization by utilizing every tool at its disposal to get consumers’ eyes on ads. In this respect, Google does not express an opinion in the traditional context of the First Amendment. Rather, by achieving a symbiotic balance between its clients and its users, Google is able to garner massive profits. Google’s corporate interests need to be weighed against societal interests such as informational reliability and informational autonomy. Further, the traditional free-market checks disintegrate in light of Google’s rather un-savvy users. The most visceral danger would be to allow Google, with its ability to tactfully and discretely manipulate consumers, unfettered power to subjectively control access to an important speech market. Finally, this Comment proposes that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would be able to regulate Google’s sponsored search results under the commercial speech doctrine.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Google as misleading advertiser?
Alex W. Cannon, Regulating Adwords: Consumer Protection in a Market Where the Commodity Is Speech, 39 Seton Hall Law Review 291 (2009). Excerpt (footnotes omitted):