Google faces court for ban on religious abortion ads
Internet giant, Google, is facing legal action in British courts because it will not allow adverts for websites which contain “abortion and religious-related content”. The well-known search engine blocked a pro-life ad for The Christian Institute’s website, http://www.christian.org.uk, because it is a “religious” website. Lawyers for the Institute say this is unlawful discrimination.
Google is happy to allow adverts for non-religious sites with views on abortion. It also allows adverts for pornographic sites as long as the sex is consensual and does not involve children or animals. But Google banned the Institute’s ad for “inappropriate content”, saying “Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain ‘abortion and religion-related content’.” The Institute’s draft ad was worded: “UK abortion law: Key news and views on abortion law from The Christian Institute. http://www.christian.org.uk.”
The Equality Act 2006 prohibits religious discrimination in the provision of a good, facility or service. The Institute believes it is being treated differently because of its religious beliefs. Last week the Institute’s solicitors wrote to Google asking the company to change its policy or face legal action.
Google’s website states: “Google was founded with a clear vision in mind: To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It is the number one search engine in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Australia, with over 80 million unique users per month.
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. 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. To describe abortion and religion-related content as ‘unacceptable content’, while at the same time advertising pornography, is ridiculous.”
A copy of the Institute’s solicitor’s letter: http://www.christian.org.uk/rel_liberties/google/letter_02apr08.pdf
The Institute’s draft ad: http://www.christian.org.uk/rel_liberties/google/ci_google_ad.jpg
Google’s email to the Institute: http://www.christian.org.uk/rel_liberties/google/email_19mar08.pdf