By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
LONDON, September 17, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Internet giant Google has settled out of court with The Christian Institute and will now allow religious groups to place factual and campaigning ads on the subject of abortion.
The Christian Institute, a pro-life and pro-family Christian lobbying and education organization, took legal action against Google after it rejected an ad in March with its search-related advertising system, AdWords, which read: “UK abortion law: Key views and news on abortion law from The Christian Institute. http://www.christian.org.uk.”
Google rejected the ad because its former policy disallowed the advertising of sites that mixed “abortion and religion-related content.”
The Christian Institute took Google to court in April, saying the refusal constituted discrimination on the grounds of religious belief, a violation of Britain’s anti-discrimination laws, the Equality Act 2006.
A spokesman for the Institute said in April, “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.” (See “Google to be Sued for Anti-Christian Discrimination for Refusing Advertising”: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08040806.html)
Today it was announced that an out-of-court settlement has been reached, and that Google will immediately review its AdWords policy to enable the Christian Institute and other religious organizations to place ads on the subject of abortion.
A spokesman for Google said, “The issue of abortion is an emotive subject and Google does not take a particular side. Over the last few months we have been reviewing our abortion ads policy in order to make sure it was fair, up to date and consistent with local customs and practices,” according to a UK Telegraph report.
“Following the review we have decided to amend our policy, creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way.”
In a press release today the Christian Institute said, “We are delighted to confirm that our legal proceedings against Google for blocking our abortion ad have been settled on amicable terms.
“As a result of the court action and other representations made to Google in recent months, Google has reviewed its AdWords policy to enable The Christian Institute and other religious associations to place ads on the subject of abortion in a factual and campaigning way.
“The new policy will apply world-wide with immediate effect. This is an important issue of free speech and religious liberty and we are pleased with Google’s constructive response to this matter.”