By Hilary White
LONDON, April 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A pro-life and pro-family Christian lobbying and education organisation is taking the internet giant Google to court over the latter’s refusal to allow advertisements about abortion that contain religious content. When the Christian Institute, a UK registered charity, asked Google for site-targeted advertising, the company refused citing the proposed ad for “inappropriate content”. The Institute is suing, saying the refusal constituted discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, a violation of Britain’s anti-discrimination laws.
A spokesman for the Institute said, “For many people, Google is the doorway to the internet. It is an influential gatekeeper to the marketplace of debate. If there is to be a free exchange of ideas then Google cannot give special free speech rights to secular groups whilst censoring religious views.”
The company told the Institute, “Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain ‘abortion and religion-related content’”.
The Christian Institute had asked for an AdWords ad, one that offers pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The refused ad would have read, “UK abortion law: news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk“. Had the company accepted the ad, internet users putting the word “abortion” into the search engine would have seen an ad for the Christian Institute on the right side of the search page.
The company, however, has no such qualms when it comes to ads for abortionists such as Marie Stopes International, who have an AdWord ad that appears now when the word “abortion” is typed into the search engine. Google is the world’s largest and most successful internet search engine company, with over 80 million users a month.
The UK’s Equality Act 2006 prohibits discrimination based on religious belief in the provision of goods and services. The Christian Institute pointed out that Google handles an enormous volume of pornographic materials, and cited the company for hypocrisy.
This is not the first time that Google has come under criticism for a liberal bias in life and family issues. In 2005 the company turned down requests for ad space by RightMarch.com, a conservative web site that lobbies on a variety of US political issues.
Again in 2007, the company temporarily blocked the weblog of a Brazilian Christian activist and writer who was using their affiliated Blogger service. The site’s contents were removed and replaced with a statement that read, “This blog is being reviewed for possible violations of the Blogger Terms of Service, and can only be opened by the authors.” The blog’s author, Julio Severo, said that Google did not inform him of the reasons for blocking the site, but the removal occurred after a bitter campaign against him by homosexual activists on Google’s partner service, Orkut.com.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said, “Google promotes itself as a company committed to the ideals of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. It is against this standard that Google’s anti-religious policy is so unjust.”
“To describe abortion and religion-related content as ‘unacceptable content’, while at the same time advertising pornography, is ridiculous.”