According to a recent BBC report, Google is displaying illegal ads promoting unofficial London 2012 ticket resellers. The unofficial sale of Olympic tickets is prohibited to protect consumers and is a serious offense that carries a maximum fine of £20,000 ($30,900). These ads, which are in addition to ads promoting fake ID card sellers, fake UK passports, and cannabis, remained on the search engine for over a week after the Scotland Yard’s Metropolitan Police asked Google to remove them.
Although Google has now removed the illegal ads and is fully cooperating with police, Google employees told live Investigates that they will keep the advertising revenue that the illegal advertisements generated prior to removal. Reg Walker, a professional online security adviser, encourages people using Google to research companies rather than blindly trusting all of the sites that appear on Google:
“Just because it appears to have the weight of Google behind the advertisement, it doesn’t mean it’s legitimate – it can be quite the opposite.”
When a family that may have lost £750 on illegal Olympic tickets contacted the search giant, Google responded:
“While Google AdWords provides a platform for companies to advertise their services, we are not responsible for, nor are we able to monitor the actions of each company.”
In the past, a federal investigation determined that Google had been aware of Canadian pharmacies selling Oxycontin and Ritalin to people without prescriptions. Even though Google was aware of this illegal activity, the company continued to accept millions in advertising revenues and drive traffic to the illegal sites. Although Google eventually took significant steps to prevent illegal pharmacies from displaying ads on the search engine, the U.S. government required a payment of $500 million to settle the matter.
While Google is sure to maintain that they are not responsible for the illegal ads that generated the sale of the illegal Olympic tickets, their advertisement system is undoubtedly delivering site visitors to illegal “businesses” and collecting the advertising revenues.
[Sources Include: BBC News]