Friday, April 19, 2002

that pesky first amendment
Deutsche Bahn announced earlier this week that they would be filing a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday because the search engine provides: "links to a Web site that offers instructions on how to sabotage railway systems." Similar suits might also be filed against Yahoo, and Altavista.
Deutsche Bahn recently sent letters to all three U.S. search engine operators asking them to remove the hyperlinks to the online copies of two articles from the German-language, left-wing extremist publication Radikal, which has been outlawed in Germany. The articles detail how to cut power on parts of the railway system.
The suits would proceed against the companies' German based subsidiaries rather than in the US, because of that gosh-darned first amendment:
Deutsche Bahn will file suit in Germany, where all three search engine companies have subsidiaries, because it feels it wouldn't stand a chance in a U.S. court because of the freedom of speech allowed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"There is no chance to sue them in the U.S. You are really allowed to put anything on the Internet there," Schreyer said.
Deutsche Bahn successfully sued Radikal's ISP in Amsterdam District Court to block access to those documents on a server there. The links on the search engines still exist, however, and that is why they announced suits against Google, Yahoo, and Altavista.

Are the search engines pointing to someone yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre? Maybe Deusche Bahn should be spending their money fixing the weaknesses in their rail system rather than pursuing these lawsuits. Regardless of whether they cover the problem up, it will still exist.

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