Google has deleted references to the leading Internet critic of the Church of Scientology, Operation Clambake. It's still there if you search for the words "Operation Clambake" but Google has voluntarily shredded a part of their supposedly impartial searching system to cut the site out of searches for the word "scientology." Does this compromise it as a search engine? You bet it does! The Slashdot report says the Church of Scientology used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to make Google remove the links. DeCSS all over again.
DeCSS was the big proof case for the DMCA. DeCSS is an open source program that breaks the encryption on a DVD, partly developed for a project called LiVid, which gives video and DVD playback under Linux. DeCSS would not have been required if the DVD Consortium had bothered to make a Linux DVD player. How hard can it be, they made Windows and Mac players. Linux users tend to be coders, proficient C programmers, and likely to code something themselves if it doesn't already exist under Linux. Partway through the DeCSS case, an American judge ruled that even linking to a DeCSS site was against DMCA. Thus followed a lot of civil disobedience with people linking to, mirroring and posting DeCSS source code, even putting the source code on t-shirts. Looks like that case is still rumbling on.
It seems DMCA would let anyone shut down a site they don't like, fair use and Constitutional rights or not. This is not free speech. The Church of Scientology has been harassing Operation Clambake and its Internet providers for a while now. They have money, a pack of lawyers, and a grudge, and Google gave them exactly what they wanted.