NEW YORK - A Long Island politician who describes himself as a "quality of life guy'' on his Web site filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming the Google search engine company is profiting from child pornography.
"This case is about a multi-billion dollar company that promotes and profits from child pornography,'' said a 16-page complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola by Jeffrey Toback, a member of the Nassau County Legislature.
"They have paid links'' to Web sites containing child pornography, Toback told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ``They take money from these sites.''
A Google spokesman denied the allegations in a statement and said the company takes numerous steps to prevent access to child pornography.
"When we find or are made aware of any child pornography, we remove it from our products, including our search engine,'' spokesman Steve Langdon said. ``We also report it to the appropriate law enforcement officials and fully cooperate with the law enforcement community to combat child pornography.''
He also said Google offers a service called SafeSearch for its search engine "that works to filter out adult content.''
Toback, who has sponsored local legislation raising the age that teenagers can legally buy cigarettes to 19 and limiting teen access to tanning salons, said he filed the lawsuit because oversight over Google was far beyond the purview of county legislators.
"This is a proactive step to keep children safe,'' Toback said. ``We had to go the judicial route.''
The married father of three children said he had no discussions with the Mountain View, Calif.-based company about its policies before filing the lawsuit, which the complaint said was filed by Toback ``individually and on behalf of concerned citizens throughout the country.''
The suit noted that Google acceded to the demands of the Chinese government to block certain search terms there such as ``democracy'' and ``Tibet.''
"When it comes to the protection and well-being of our nation's innocent children, (Google) refuses to spend a dime's worth of resources to block child pornography from reaching children or to filter out search terms such as 'child pornography' or 'kiddie porn' or the content to which such terms lead,'' the complaint said.
"This case is not about denying First Amendment speech,'' Jeffrey Carton, an attorney representing Toback, said in a statement. ``The action is being brought by concerned community members seeking to prevent illegal content from being searched and accessed.''
The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages, but wants the company to prohibit ``advertising relating to Web sites that display, market or otherwise provide illegal access to pornography.''