Search engines deserve protection under free speech statutes, according to a US law professor.
A report produced by UCLA professor Eugene Volokh argues that search engines like Google are within their First Amendments rights when they decide what type of search results to display.
The report, which was commissioned by Google, found that when a search engine decides what type of results to display it is exercising editorial judgment much in the same way a newspaper does.
The findings would suggest that critics who criticise search engines like Google of favoring their own products lack a valid argument.
"The notion that the First Amendment applies to businesses isn't anything new," Professor Volokh told V3.
"But search engines haven't been covered by the courts because of their relative newness."
Professor Volokh's findings suggest that search engines have the right to prioritise search results for users, and show that any government regulations that would require companies to edit results would be in violation of the First Amendments right to free speech.
The findings come following recent accusations that Google uses its dominant position in the search market to promote its own products over those of its rivals.
Congress held a hearing last year in an attempt to investigate those concerns.
Volokh's report shows that even if Google used its search engine to prioritise its own products it would be well within its First Amendment rights to do so.
Much in the same way newspapers select columns from outside contributors, search engines have the right to decide what information to show.
Allegations of Google anti-competition behavior date as far back as 2010 when a US Consumer Group urged the company to break up its holdings into different entities.
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