According to a new US court ruling, Google can list its search results in whatever order it pleases — and it has the First Amendment behind it too. That's according to a hearing that saw a site called CoastNews file a lawsuit against Google, saying that it was knowingly lowering its rankings in search results. It argued that it appeared at the top of results created by Bing and Yahoo, and was being actively relegated by Google.
But Judge Ernest Goldsmith has said that Google was merely undertaking a "constitutionally protected activity". In other words, it was exercising its right to free speech.
It's a small but important victory for Google, which often comes under fire for the way it presents search results. Google has always argued that search results should be treated as free speech, and now they have become less and less neutral, legal approval is a Good Thing. Until this new ruling, the last case supporting Google in such a stance dated back to 2007.
The ruling may not carry muster around the rest of the world, but it's sure to hearten Google. [GigaOm]