Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Google Feeling Down Under

Melbourne Federal Court Building. Taken from F...Melbourne Federal Court Building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Internet search monster Google was taken to the woodshed yesterday by the Australian Federal Court, which sided with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ("ACCC") position that Google deceived consumers by interspersing paid advertisements in search results.

According to a Reuters story, between March 2006, and July 2007, Google users who queried Honda Australia received responses that included paid ads from Honda rival CarSales that purportedly indicated a link between Honda Australia and CarSales. Publishing the paid ads was "misleading and deceptive," said  the Court's three-judge panel, chastising Google.

The Court assessed court costs against Google and ordered the company to institute a compliance program to guard against paid advertisements misleading users. It's unclear what Google's next step will be following the adverse ruling by the Australian court, which wouldn't happen in the U.S. where 47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 shields ISPs such as Google from liability for content from other Internet service providers.
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