The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) said Thursday that Google continues to allow ads for illegal online pharmacies that sell counterfeit or illegal drugs.
In 2011, Google agreed to pay $500 million to avoid being prosecuted for aiding illegal online pharmaceutical sales. In the settlement, the company acknowledged it had improperly and knowingly assisted online pharmacy advertisers, allegedly based in Canada, to run ads for illegal pharmacy sales that targeted American customers.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, Co-Chair of NAAG’s Intellectual Property Committee, said Thursday that at the top of Google’s keyword search results, websites are displayed that are known to sell counterfeit goods, USA Today reports. NAAG says some of these sites advertise with Google, and post videos on the company’s YouTube service.
“On every check we have made, Google’s search engine gave us easy access to illegal goods, including websites which offer dangerous drugs without a prescription, counterfeit goods of every description,” Hood said. “This behavior means that Google is putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from illegal behavior.”
In a statement, Google said, “We take the safety of our users very seriously and we’ve explained to Attorney General Hood how we enforce policies to combat rogue online pharmacies and counterfeit drugs. In the last two years, we’ve removed more than 3 million ads for illegal pharmacies, and we routinely remove videos that are flagged for violating YouTube’s guidelines regarding dangerous or illegal content.”
NAAG has invited Google CEO Larry Page to a national meeting of the attorneys general to discuss the issue. The group said they have not yet received a reply.