Today, TechFreedom filed an amicus brief urging an Ohio state trial court to hold that Google’s search engine is not a common carrier under Ohio law.

“A search engine flunks any conceivable common carriage test,” said Corbin K. Barthold, Director of Appellate Litigation at TechFreedom. “Throughout its history, common carrier law has involved the state requiring non-discrimination in the transportation of commodity material or information. Yet the whole point of a search engine is to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant content. A search engine could not ‘rank’ content indifferently if it tried; it would no longer be a search engine.”

“Simply ‘declaring’ a search engine to be a common carrier would violate the First Amendment,” Barthold continued. “When it sorts and ranks content, a search engine engages in the exercise of editorial judgment—just as a newspaper or a parade does. Search engines therefore enjoy full First Amendment protection. Ohio cannot magically remove that protection simply by using the label ‘common carrier.’”

“This lawsuit is, at root, a political stunt,” Barthold concluded. “Ohio’s attorney general might think it sounds good to claim he’s ‘sticking it to Big Tech.’ But if this lawsuit succeeded, he’d be the dog that caught the car. He’d be responsible for breaking his constituents’ preferred search engine.”

The case is Ohio ex rel. Yost v. Google LLC, No. 21 CV H 06 0274 (Delaware County, Ohio).


Find this brief and release on our website, and share it on Twitter, Bluesky, Mastodon, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We can be reached for comment at Read our related work, including:

About TechFreedom:

TechFreedom is a nonprofit, nonpartisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.