Last Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it reached a settlement with Google. The search engine giant has been accused of displaying advertisements to illegal online pharmacies in Canada. The size of the settlement? A whopping $500 million.
You read that correctly. Google settled with the Justice Department for half a billion dollars. This is a landmark case.
Three years ago, Google was one of several defendants charged with facilitating online gambling. Along with Microsoft and Yahoo, Google was required to settle in a lawsuit for $31.5 million. Google was only required to pay $3 million in that case.
Apparently, he fine Google had to pay in that case didn’t deter them from promoting other illegal sites. The Justice Department seems to be taking out the big guns and setting an example of Google.
The investigation has already been extremely expensive for Google. From start to finish, the investigation has cost Google $1.8 billion. This represents over a fifth of their profits for the year.
No More Excuses
Google has tried laying down the crocodile tears. They tried telling Justice that they didn’t know what was going on. They argued conspiracy theories that online pharmacies always seem to find clever ways to sneak their ads onto Google. It’s obviously not their fault, right? The Justice Department has grown weary of these excuses.
Justice says companies need to be held liable for any advertisements displayed on their pages. If an illegal advertisement is displayed, they must find a way to take down. Anyone who doesn’t comply will be held accountable.
What Can Google Do?
Many may be inclined to share the U.S. government’s view. They feel that Google has not been doing enough to stomp out illegal companies that are promoting themselves on their website.
Google has taken steps to fight illegal companies promoting products before. Google has filed lawsuits against these companies in the past. In 2009, Google brought a number of companies including Pacific Webworks to court for promoting scams through their Ads. Google’s actions clearly demonstrate their willingness to stop companies from promoting illegal products or services on their website.
These lawsuits may have stopped a few companies, but new ones always come up. What options does that leave Google with? Can they really do anything else to stop illegal pharmacies from promoting themselves in Googcoiule’s ads? Or are they simply not doing enough?
Does Google’s Quest for Profits Cloud their Judgment?
Google is clearly under pressure to increase its ad revenue. They sell ads to the highest bidder based on keyword popularity. Has this influenced their willingness to resolve these issues?
Ads for certain medications charge high PPC fees. If Google brings in significant revenues from online pharmacies, they may not be as alert when if comes to shutting down their ads.
This is clearly a rising concern for Google. They have already been placed under scrutiny for promoting online gambling sites and scams. The Justice Department is putting its foot down, which will force Google to reevaluate its business model. Deputy James Cole says: “This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history.”
Will the new settlement encourage Google to finally find a way to stop companies from running illegal ads? Or will Google face more fines in the future? We will probably have answers to those questions in the coming months.