Lawyer Lawrence Walters

Lawyer Seeks to Use Google Search Data in Florida Obscenity Case

June 25, 2008 09:38 AM
by Rachel Balik
A defense lawyer seeks to use local residents’ search histories as proof that his client’s Web site doesn’t violate community standards.

30-Second Summary

A defense lawyer plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to defend his client, who operates an adult Web site based in Florida and has been charged with obscenity. Seasoned first amendment lawyer Lawrence Walters is also subpoenaing Google for localized statistics, such as “the number of searches for certain sexual topics done by local residents” of Pensacola.

Walters hopes that the Google data will demonstrate that the community is searching for and viewing content comparable to that offered on his client’s Web site, and therefore the site does not violate “community standards.” Previous efforts to make this argument have relied on ambiguous reports of sales of pornographic magazines and videos. “The prospect of having measurement of Internet traffic brings a more objective component than we’ve ever seen before,” lawyer Jeffrey Douglas said.

But not everyone is convinced that community standards are the best way to define obscenity. The Talk Left blog argues, “If two people in two different communities are watching the same movie or viewing the same website in the privacy of their own homes, why should one be less entitled to First Amendment protection than the other?

It is rare for courts to consider a case regarding adult pornography; the vast majority of the cases over the past 10 years concern child pornography.

Headline Link: ‘What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer’

Opinion and Analysis: Who Cares About Community Standards?

Key Player: Defense Attorney Lawrence Walters

Related Topics: Online child pornography

Reference Links: 1973 Supreme Court ruling on obscenity


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