This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 18, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MACCALLUM: There are high consequences advertising debate to tell you about tonight. For the first time, pro-life groups will now be able to place ads on Google as long as they are, are quote, "factual." The Internet search giant originally did not allow ads of Web sites that contained, quote, "abortion and religion-related content." But after a British Christian group filed a suit claiming religious discrimination, Google agreed that they would revise some of their policies. Does the company have a right to decide which ads it will air and which ads it will not air?
Joining me now is criminal defense attorney and FOX NEWS legal analyst, Mercedes Colwin. Sure, they have a right to decide whatever ads they want to air, right?
MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I mean, that was what's so unusual about this case. I mean, you look at this and say, "Wait a minute. This is a privately-held company - publicly held, obviously. But it is a private company nonetheless. What are these restrictions on them? They don't get public funding. That's usually (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
COLWIN: Where there are public issues at hand. Now, this is a private company. They don't have, like let's say, the media has an interest in, say, making sure that there is news-worthy issues. We make sure we're informing the public. We're the watchdogs of America. None of that with Google.
MACCALLUM: Why do you think they succumb to this pressure?
MACCALLUM: I really think it's public relations. They thought - they thought themselves, "You know, this could be a publicity nightmare for us if we take this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's already gone public, that's already become an immediate issue, a worldwide issue because obviously, it originated in Europe. It's a U.K. organization that brought the claim. They thought to themselves, "It's just not worth the fight. It's going to cost us millions in legal fees. Let's just buckle down. We'll revise it. Now we'll face factuals. We have to be factual."
MACCALLUM: Well, that in and of itself, is tricky territory when they're, you know, talking about this issues. Let's take a look at what Google's spokesman Ben Novick had to say. He told ABC News, quote, "The ads can refer to government legislation and existing law and the alternatives to abortion. But, they cannot link to Websites which show graphic images that aim to shock people into changing their minds." So, you know, that's how they're sort of setting some parameters.
COLWIN: Yes, and it's interesting because this is a settlement. So now, what you are going to see is like, you know what? Factual - what does this issue really mean?
COLWIN: It's all very convoluted and now, it shows discretion by the company. They're sort of painting themselves - Google is painting themselves into a corner here saying, "We're going to concede. We're going to allow you in, but we're going to have editorial rights."
So now taking on a whole other level of what they're going to have to, you know - parameters that they're going to have to give others and they'd rather not to someone else. Aren't they going to say, "Well, there is already a precedent?"
COLWIN: And that's exactly right, Martha.
COLWIN: That's what's really problematic about this. Google really didn't think ahead about what - this is a watershed moment. You could stop and say, "No, these are rules and politics. We are a private entity. You can't tell us what we can and cannot have on. But now that you've stepped this, I've given you a yard. You're going to have an entire three yards, yardstick and whatnot." So it's going to be a problem for them in the long term.
MACCALLUM: All right. Mercedes, thank you very much.
COLWIN: My pleasure.
MACCALLUM: Mercedes Colwin, joining us tonight.
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