Google Search Results Anger California Accountant; Suit Filed

Have you "Googled" yourself? You might be surprised by what you find attached to your name. A California accountant was so dismayed by what he called "alarming, false, misleading and injurious results," he sued Google, AOL, Time Warner and Yahoo! last week claiming libel.

Mark Maughan, a certified public accountant with the firm of Brown & Maughan, was told by friends in March 2003 that he should be concerned with what came up when his name was typed into a Google search.

"Specifically, the search results falsely represent that plaintiffs Maughan and/or Brown & Maughan have been disciplined for gross negligence, for failing to timely submit a client's claim for refund of overpayment of taxes, and for practicing as a CPA without a permit," according to the proposed class action filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and reported by the Associated Press.

A representative for Mountain View-based Google Technology did not immediately comment on the lawsuit, the AP reported. Google is feeling the heat, with Yahoo! dropping it as its default search engine last month.

When Maughan contacted Google about his concerns, he was told the California State Board of Accountancy was responsible for the information that came up on the search engine.

The suit claims that Google’s PageRank system "reformats information obtained from accurate sources, resulting in changing of the context in which information is presented."

The suit seeks a court order to bar Google from using PageRank as well as monetary damages, the AP reported.

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