KinderStart Sues Google Over PageRank
KinderStart filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court in San Jose alleging that Google improperly “blacklisted” its website. We have not yet obtained a copy of the legal filing but news reports confusingly use the term “blacklisted”. An AP wire story states that KinderStart claims Google blacklisted its website which would mean the site would not be found in Google. However, KinderStart.com has over 43,000 pages in Google.
The legal issue probably centers on PageRank because all 43,000 KinderStart.com pages have a rank of zero. Google famously uses PageRank to help determine results for web searches. A rank of zero would likely mean KinderStart would rarely show up in the top ten results for any search.
The civil complaint asks the court to be certified as a class action “representing the owners of all Web sites blacklisted by Google since January 2001”.
From AP reports:
“The world is becoming increasingly ‘Googlized,”‘ said Gregory Yu, a lawyer for KinderStart. “For most people, that has been a good thing, but not for everyone.”
A Google spokesman said the company hadn’t seen the suit and had no immediate comment.
KinderStart alleges Google has engaged in anticompetitive behavior and misled the public by positioning its search engine as an objective source for finding Internet content. The suit seeks unspecified financial damages and a court order that would require Google to change its ways.
… KinderStart’s lawsuit alleges Google’s policing efforts have penalized Web sites that have done nothing wrong. To make matters worse, the suit alleges the banished sites can’t determine how they can restore their standings because the company doesn’t explain its actions.
The argument KinderStart is making is based on antitrust principles that Google has grown so big and powerful that it must abide by fairness standards not normally required of business. These new standards might include publishing specific rules for websites to follow in order not to be blacklisted or have PageRank removed. Google could also be required to notify websites with reasons for blacklisting. They may also have to offer specific ways to remedy blacklisting.
Interestingly, the KinderStart.com website features Google Adwords.