Mississippi Attorney General To Subpoena Google For Illegal Sale Of Prescription Drugs

google-legal-law-featuredMississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music.

“Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk,” says Hood, “This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation.” The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead.

According to a report on Reuters, Hood was frustrated with Google’s refusal to block sites that sell illegal products. Google posted a response on their Public Policy blog, stating:

Search results reflect the web and what’s online – the good and the bad. Filtering a website from search results won’t remove it from the web, or block other websites that link to that website. It’s not Google’s place to determine what content should be censored – that responsibility belongs with the courts and the lawmakers.

Google did agree that “rogue pharmacies” are a matter of public concern, and that they will abide by any court ruling that determines web content to be illegal. “We have always removed from our search results any page found by a legitimate court to be unlawful, whether an online pharmacy or otherwise,” wrote legal director Adam Barea.

Hood was also concerned about Google’s autocomplete feature because it offered the words “no prescription” when a user searched for “buy oxycodone online.”

Google responded to the autocomplete concerns as well, stating, “Because the feature is algorithmic, some autocomplete entries may include phrases that potentially relate to rogue pharmacies. We’re evaluating how best to address this issue, have already started running tests on the subject, and always welcome feedback.”

Today, the same search did not result in “no prescription” as an autocomplete option, even though the first two search results included offers to buy the drug without a prescription.

illegal search auto complete

According to Google’s Public Policy blog, the search giant worked with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies to take action against more than 4,100 Internet pharmacies worldwide during Operation Pangea last October. Also, Google claims it has blocked or removed more than 3 million ads by suspected rogue pharmacies during the last two years.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google | Google: Legal | Google: Suggest | Google: Web Search | Legal | Legal: Censorship | Legal: Regulation | Search & Society | Top News

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About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • http://www.kyleeggleston.com/ Kyle Eggleston

    Online pharmaceuticals will always be a problem for Google. Personally, I feel like Google should blacklist these keywords altogether and MANUALLY rank these search results (tedious, I know), but it will close the Spam door. Best of all, no one will be able to gain access to illegal drugs via Google.

    Google’s privacy policy still acts as an umbrella between offenders and the US government. Until this veil is breached, no one will be deterred from trying to game Google’s SERPs for pharmaceutical keywords.

  • Illogicalthinker

    I think this AG should be fired. Google is a search engine. Google provides information defined by user queries. I suppose they should be flamed for teaching idiots how to snort coke and cook meth as well.
    No one in their right mind should be purchasing “Viagra” from Bob Sanchos in Czech. If someone thinks that is a good idea, maybe they should have to deal with the consequences.
    If anything should be targeted for faulty pharmaceuticals it should be the FDA for instilling false confidence in drugs.

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