by Clint Boulton
Aug 28, 2011
Google CEO Larry Page knew the company was allowing Canadian pharmacies to advertise their prescription drugs in the U.S. on the AdWords platform, said the DOJ.
Google CEO Larry Page for years knew about the ads his company served on behalf of Canadian online pharmacies illegally targeting U.S. consumers, according to a U.S. attorney who led the probe against the search giant.
The company Aug. 24 agreed to pay an unprecedented $500 million fine to the U.S. Justice Department to settle the allegations. Shipping prescription drugs to U.S. customers from outside the country is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and perhaps even the Controlled Substances Act.
Google admitted doing this from 2003 to 2009, after which it banned the practice. "It's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place," Google told eWEEK. The company declined to comment further on the matter.
The DOJ said in statement the fine equals both the sales Google made from the placement of those ads through its AdWords platform, as well as the sales the pharmacies earned from U.S. customers.
Now the lead investigator in this probe has come forward to say that it learned Page was aware of the ads.
"Larry Page knew what was going on," Peter Neronha, the Rhode Island U.S. Attorney who led the probe, told The Wall Street Journal. "We know it from the investigation. We simply know it from the documents we reviewed, witnesses that we interviewed, that Larry Page knew what was going on."
Neronha, who said he would not prosecute the company further, helped pore over 4 million-plus documents and discovered emails and other information that indicate Page knew of the illegal ads.
He concluded that it was not a matter of a few rogue customer service workers enabling the ads, but a corporate decision to allow them. This documentation will be sealed as a result of the settlement between Google and the DOJ.
Google declined to comment on whether Page and other top executives knew of the illicit ad sales, which Google sought to combat by filing a federal lawsuit to block individuals running illegitimate pharmacies from advertising on its search engine.
The accusation is something of a small powder keg for Google, which has worn its "Don't Be Evil" mantle proudly for several years. Google watchers, journalists and pundits suggest the credo is aimed at doing the right thing only for Google's consumers.
The company has been unabashedly cutthroat toward the likes of Apple, Microsoft and smaller rivals that play where Google wants to command business online. Now the definition of "evil" may well find itself stretched to include enabling businesses to use its search engine to profit by breaking U.S. laws.
The fact that Page knew about this practice, which leveraged the search ad platform responsible for some 97 percent of the company's sales, and looked the other way, suggests a brazen arrogance in the face of the U.S. government.
This finding is certainly something the Federal Trade Commission may pay close attention to as it scrutinizes the company for antitrust issues regarding its search ad business. In fact, the FTC may use it as an excuse to investigate the company more aggressively going forward.
Learn more about Search Engine Optimization, the most effective form of online advertising.
Search Engine Marketing is the fastest growing advertising medium in the world, projected to become 10x more powerful and influential than traditional media outlets such as: network television, cable television, local television, network radio, local radio, satellite radio, national newspapers, local newspapers, magazines, billboards, direct mail, telemarketing and more.
Discover the most powerful and effective form of advertising, Search Engine Optimization.
An aside for consideration are the segments of Search Engine Optimization. Clarification is required in terms of paid search marketing, sponsored search advertising, pay per click, email marketing (spam), and the foundation of strategic internet marketing: Organic Search Engine Optimization - Organic SEO in some circles also referred to as Natural Search Engine Optimization - Natural SEO.
Key Organic Search Engine Optimization Facts:
- Keyword search is the 2nd most popular online activity, rapidly approaching the popularity of email retrieval.
- 90% of all new website visitors are delivered by a major search engine and/or directory.
- 98% of all keyword search activity results are powered by the big 4 search engines: Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL.
- Keyword search results on Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL are all determined by a search engine spider and/or robot crawler.
- Recent internet marketing studies confirm that keyword searchers prefer the organic results at a 6 to 1 ratio vs. pay-per-click sponsored search advertising listings.
Is your corporate website being found early and often on the keywords and keyword phrases that best describe your products, services and industry?
Harness the power that our proven organic search engine optimization technologies can provide...
Contact the Peak Positions Organic SEO consulting specialists today.
Learn more about our client roster, one of the strongest in the SEO industry, and more importantly discover why our client-focused Organic Search Engine Optimization company maintains the highest client retention rate in the SEO industry.
"Our year over year order anniversary flowers revenues are climbing rapidly in a timid economy. If you are looking for an excellent SEO Company, we suggest Peak Positions" ...
SEO Case Study