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USA: Google Not Liable for Fraudulent Ads

In the Goddard v. Google case (see Update 57 for details), District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose ruled that the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes Google from liability for allegedly displaying fraudulent ringtone ads created through the AdWords platform. Goddard had claimed that she was billed for a ringtone subscription after entering her cell phone number at a fraudulent web site that she found via an AdWords ad. She sought to hold Google responsible. But the court found that the Federal Communications Act protects Google from any liability for the ads, noting in the written decision, "Providing third parties with neutral tools to create Web content is considered to be squarely within the protections of (the law). Even if a service provider knows that third parties are using such tools to create illegal content, the service's provider's failure to intervene is immunized" so long as it does not encourage or require their users to post actionable information online. Fogel dismissed the case without prejudice, effectively allowing Goddard to file an amended complaint at a later date. Goddard can only win the lawsuit by establishing Google's involvement in creating or developing the AdWords.


Goddard v. Google, Inc., 2008 WL 5245490 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2008).

For more information see Goldman, Eric, Lawsuit Over Google Ads for Mobile Services Dismissed Per 230--Goddard v. Google, Technology & Marketing Law Blog





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