Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is justifiably upset by a Google bomb that links searches for his name to something too disgusting to repeat here. In demanding that Google take it down, however, Santorum does not seem to understand that all the responsibility—and liability—rests with the webmaster, not the search engine—in a law that passed when he was a member of the Senate. (Anybody out there know how Senator Santorum voted on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?)
Santorum, however, does strike at a point.
“I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it,” he said. In fact, something was ‘up there’ about First Lady Michelle Obama, a truly offensive image. Google did act against one site carrying that image, citing malware concerns, and placed an adexplaining its stance. Technology companies will need to remain utterly consistent in how they apply these rules—and clear to the public how they operate. Politicians need to understand the need to play by the rules they themselves have passed.