Google Inc may have set a precedent with its landmark case win against the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). After six-long years of legal proceedings, Australia’s High Court ruled that Google had not participated in misleading behavior with its sponsored links, and that the company cannot be held responsible for specific messages transmitted by paid advertisers.
Although the ruling is only good in the land down under, this win will go a long ways in helping other search engines prove that they also are not publishers, but merely information carriers who are not responsible for what messages paid advertisers convey.
"Others will definitely be looking at this ruling. Google is a worldwide business. This is something of a first, and it does add some clarity for the industry," said Peter Lee, the head of Australia's Internet Industry Association, in an interview with Reuters.
The ACCC had been arguing that Google misled consumers when a search for the automaker Honda Australia, showed a paid advertisement for one of Hondas biggest rivals, CarSales. The ACCC claimed that it appeared as if CarSales and Honda were in some way or another linked, and that Google had been disingenuous.
"Ordinary and reasonable users of the Google search engine would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers, and would not have concluded that Google adopted or endorsed the representations," the court said in a statement.
All five of the judges on Australia’s High Court ruled in favor of Google and overturned the previous Federal Court ruling claiming, “Google did not create the sponsored links and the company was not responsible for messages in the links.”
Google has already changed the way it displays sponsored links in Australia, and with this latest ruling, the company continues to stay in the headlines. Just a few days ago it announced its Google Glass Project would include bone conduction headphones that will leave the users ears unblocked, but won’t cancel out ambient noises.
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