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Lawsuit challenges Google search ranking

[JURIST] Kinderstart.com [corporate backgrounder], a directory and search engine focused on children zero to seven, filed suit against Google [corporate backgrounder] Friday in federal court in San Jose, accusing the high-profile search engine of unexpectedly dropping the site's search rank, leading to a 70 percent fall in page views and an 80 percent fall in ad revenue for Kinderstart. In its suit, Kinderstart requested the court certify a class of plaintiffs who have been allegedly "blacklisted" by Google's search engine. The suit seeks unspecified economic damages against Google, as well as a court order requiring Google to explain its tightly-guarded PageRank technology [official backgrounder], which ranks a website based in part on how many other websites link to that site.

The suit reflects growing concern in segments of the business, media and academic communities about the economic, social and civic dominance of Google, especially as most Web users come to accept the engine's returns and rankings as definitive, and Google refuses to increase the transparency of its processes while remaining generally unaccountable. Google maintains that the "voting" model of its PageRank technology ensures that its search results are both democratic and as objective as possible. The San Jose Mercury News has local coverage; AP has more.

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