US Government 'ad words with Google, fines them $500 million

25 August 2011

google_logoSelf-service ad systems are ripe to be exploited by crooked and shady operators, and as avid Bitterwallet readers have pointed out, it seems it's becoming increasingly easier to do so. That doesn't mean there won't be complaints or action taken against those profiteering from online adverts considered to be illegal.

And so to news concerning Google, the daddy of the world's largest self-service ad system, AdWords. In a bid to avoid criminal prosecution, Google has agreed to pay a $500 million fine for publishing ads from Canadian pharmacies selling illegal drugs to US customers. The US Justice Department said the figure represents Google's revenues from the ads and the revenues generated from the drug sales.

Why did the US pin such a large fine on Google? Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to US residents aren't subject to Canadian regulatory authority; that means these businesses can ship drugs into the US that were sourced outside Canada. In other words, Canadian suppliers have been using AdWords to pretty much sell anything they can get their hands on to the US, regardless of either country's drug regulations.

Google commented on the fine: "We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the US by Canadian pharmacies some time ago. However, it's obvious with hindsight that we should not have allowed these ads on Google in the first place." Odd that it's only "obvious with hindsight" that suppliers shouldn't have been allowed to sell illegal prescription drugs. You'd have thought that'd be pretty obvious to everyone beforehand.

TOPICS:   Technology   Travel

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