Conservative non-profit group PragerU has filed a second lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of censoring conservative viewpoints by “engaging in unlawful, misleading, and unfair businesses practices.”
Fox News reports that the conservative non-profit group PragerU – founded by radio host Dennis Prager and which produces short informative videos on conservative topics — has filed another lawsuit against Google, accusing the search engine and its video hosting subsidiary YouTube of censorship of conservative viewpoints. A lawsuit was filed against the firm in the Superior Court in the State of California last Tuesday.
The suit claims: “This lawsuit is ‘round two’ of the parties’ dispute over whether Google/YouTube are above the law when it comes to regulating free speech and expression on YouTube solely because Defendants are private entities who own and operate YouTube for their own profit and commercial gain.”
The suit alleges that both Google and YouTube are violating California law in four ways, including unlawfully restraining free speech in violation of the state’s constitution and discriminating against the conservative non-profit based on political, religious, “or other discriminatory animus” in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. PragerU also alleges that YouTube has violated their own terms of service and that Google and YouTube are “engaging in unlawful, misleading, and unfair businesses practices,” violating California’s Business and Professions Code.
The suit takes particular issues with YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” which forces users to sign in or confirm their age in order to view certain videos. PragerU alleges that this mode is being used to censor their videos from certain viewers stating in the suit that: “Google/YouTube use these filtering mechanisms as a pretext to justify restricting and censoring PragerU’s videos.”
This latest lawsuit now means that PragerU is running what is called a “two-track litigation” against Google at both state and federal court levels. PragerU began their legal battle against Google in 2017, filing two federal claims against the tech firm one of which was filed under the First Amendment and the other was filed under the Lanham acts for unfair competition and advertising.
Lead PragerU attorney Peter Obstler said in a statement to Fox News:
We’ve taken an appeal to the Ninth Circuit on the merits of the two federal law claims, and the state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. In other words, the court made very clear that the state law claims were dismissed out of deference to state law courts, that the state courts should decide issues of their own law – not the federal court. Today we’ve come full circle by filing a state law action, as the judge requested we do, in a state court to litigate those issues there. So we’re now going to have a two track litigation.
PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said in a statement:
We’re very optimistic we will win our federal suit based upon our case’s First Amendment merits. But there is reason to believe certain claims are even stronger in California. Specifically claims relating to YouTube’s breach of contract and consumer fraud. They claim to be a public forum for free expression, but they behave instead as a publisher with editorial controls. You cannot have it both ways.
YouTube has denied any wrongdoing in the matter, with a spokesperson stating:
Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a small subset of users to filter out videos that may include sensitive or mature content. Giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship. In fact, this is exactly the type of tool that Congress has encouraged online services to provide for parents and others interested in a more family-friendly experience online
PragerU’s videos weren’t excluded from Restricted Mode because of politics or ideology. A federal court has already held that PragerU’s allegations are meritless, and we believe the state court will reach the same conclusion.
Breitbart News will be following this case closely and keeping readers updated on further developments.