• http://www.onelittledesigner.com Jeremy Hawes

    This article seemed to suggest that Google was not taking blame for their actions and calling it a mistake vs willful. Everything I’ve learned about this case is quite the opposite – it was one of the few times in history when a large corporation admitted fault – Google didn’t say it was a mistake, but that they screwed up and were sorry.

  • http://screenwerk.com Greg Sterling

    I’m giving Google the benefit of the doubt. But re the “admission,” that was compelled as part of the settlement. It’s not out of the goodness of Google’s heart that they do that.

    The question is: did Google know the ads were illegal and continue to willingly accept them because they represented a lot of money? Critics argue “yes,” “guilty.” I’m saying something else: I don’t believe that this is a conspiracy exposed. But it’s not simple negligence either.

  • John Nagle

    In DOJ’s words, “During the ensuing investigation of Google, the government established a number of undercover websites for the purpose of advertising the unlawful sale of controlled and non-controlled substances through Google’s AdWords program”. Google accepted the ads, and AdWords staff actively cooperated in getting the ads up. This did not happen by accident, and it wasn’t just about Google allowing ads for legitimate pharmacies in Canada.

    For the next two years, Google is on probation. If they do anything bad in the drug area, DOJ can proceed with criminal prosecutions based on Google’s past activities. Google has to be very, very careful from now on.

    Schmidt appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 21, and will face some tough questions. Congress can ask for some of the evidence that DOJ would have used at trial, so we may see more information about the details of the sting operation.

    After something like this, executives are usually fired. Who gets the axe? Any rumors yet?

  • TimmyTime

    >>> “However I’m less certain this is a conspiracy revealed. ”

    Yeah, those illegal drug ads escaped google for years, when they ban people for life over tiny mistakes. DOJ has emails where Larry the Fraud knew and approved of them. Bing “Larry Page Canadian pharmacies DOJ WSJ” and see. Larry knew and approved them to make money:
    “”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.””

    >> it was one of the few times in history when a large corporation admitted fault – Google didn’t say it was a mistake, but that they screwed up and were sorry.

    Criminal prosecution of the founder and the shattering of the myth that they aren’t greedy does wonders in admitting ‘mistakes’ and paying a small fee. No wonder they rig organic SERPs, it’s safer and harder to spot than selling illegal drugs.

  • http://searchinfluence.com/blog/ Douglas Thomas

    I can’t really see any lasting effect here. This is over policies Google ended two years ago; they already had money set aside for the settlement as early as May; and Google already has a bit of a anti-government take when it comes to stuff “they” might not agree with, especially if you look at how Google acted in China.

    The case makes for good flamebait (especially for Aaron Wall fans), and certainly might be only the first of a set of revelations coming from the heightened US investigations to explain some policy shifts and the like, but it itself ought to have little effect. Neronha’s take on the case should be as discounted as Page’s — of course the prosecutor would say they had an open-and-shut case, of course the defendant would say he’s innocent. The public in both the US and Europe, has been affected little by investigations, if market share and stock price are used as telling metrics.

    For three takeaways from the original announcement, check out our take on it at http://www.searchinfluence.com/2011/08/500-million-google-pharmacy-ad-probe-settlement/

  • http://advance-web.com dmw

    Lighten up everybody. In case you’ve forgotten, the motto is “Do no evil”, not “Do no illegal”.

  • Ryan Go

    In your first comment you say “I’m saying something else: I don’t believe that this is a conspiracy exposed. But it’s not simple negligence either.”

    There is not much room in between the two, so it’s hard to judge, then, where you stand and what the message is.

    Google ads brings in 96% of their revenues. I have experienced first-hand Google breaking their own policies when it goes to their benefit. When I combine those experiences with this article, it becomes very clear to me that there is a whole lot more going on with Google and their ads. And much of it seems to be illegal.

    For example: advertisers and publishers are not allowed to share how much each has paid or been paid for a particular click. There could be a lot of room in between the two, which possibly amounts to theft.

    @dmw: yes, good point.

  • http://screenwerk.com Greg Sterling


    I don’t have enough information to make a definitive assessment. There may be a “robin hood” element here where Google thought it was doing some sort of service with cheaper Canadian drugs for US residents (provided certification) as well. There’s some suggestion of that.

    I don’t think it’s simply a case of Google saying we’re going to make money by hook or by crook, feds be damned. There’s more going on here than has come out obviously.

    In terms of “degrees of culpability” there are differences legally between negligence and willful illegal behavior. Somebody who intends to kill someone is treated very differently than someone who hits another person with his car and accidentally causes the death of that person. Dead body in both cases; different intent, different punishment.

  • http://europeforvisitors.com Durant Imboden

    It seems to me that Mr. Neronha, the U.S. Attorney, has an awfully big mouth. He says he “knows” that Larry Page knew what was going on. If that’s true, why didn’t he prosecute?

  • http://screenwerk.com Greg Sterling

    Yes, I’m surprised by the “aggressive” comments to the WSJ. Maybe he wanted to prosecute and didn’t get his way and this is an effort to publicize what he thought was criminal wrongdoing.