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Australia takes Google to court

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Thursday July 12, 2007 )

In what’s said to be the first case of its kind in the world, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (which enforces consumer protection and fair trading laws in the country) is taking Google to court.

The ACCC is alleging misleading and deceptive conduct on the part of Google in relation to sponsored links. The allegations stem from instances *2 years ago* of a couple of car dealership names appearing in sponsored links which led to a popular Australian classifieds site; the Trading Post – who had no association with the dealerships.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also alleges Google has continued to fail to adequately distinguish sponsored links from organic search results.

Amongst other things, the ACCC is seeking injunctions restraining Google from publishing sponsored links of advertisers where an association is made with an entity that they aren’t actually associated with. They are also demanding that Google refrain from publishing search results that don’t expressly distinguish paid ads from organic results and that Google implement trade practices compliance programs; publicly admit to their evil ways, pay costs etc. etc. etc.

If I wake up tomorrow morning, go to Google and see “service temporarily unavailable because of your stinking government”.. I won’t be happy.

Should be an interesting court case… paid for courtesy of the taxpayer’s dime should they lose. I can understand the ACCC coming down heavy on the Trading Post, but I’m still scratching my head as to why they have Google in their sights too. But then again, a lot of things that go on in Australia these days puzzle me :).

Read the ACCC press release


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