Feeds

Oz watchdog sticks to its Google-attacking guns

'Down with sponsored links'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has dropped its legal action against two Google subsidiaries, but the protector of the Aussie people vows to continue its fight against the search giant's Mountain View mother ship.

With a federal court action aimed at the world's largest search engine and an online classifieds extravaganza known as The Trading Post, the ACCC claims that Google is misleading the public with its money-making sponsored links.

"Contrary to some media reports today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission case against The Trading Post and Google Inc. continues," reads a statement from the Aussie watchdog.

According to The Australian, the ACCC has even expanded its attack on Google's sponsored links, going after the ads posted on the right side of the site's results page.

In what the organization calls "the first action of its type globally," the ACCC is alleging "misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to sponsored links that appeared on the Google website." According to the commission, such behavior violates Australia's Trade Practices Act.

The watchdog claims that the search engine cum world power fails to distinguish between sponsored links and "organic" search results, and it's peeved that The Trading Post was able to purchase ad links that included the names of two independent car dealerships, Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota.

The New Angle

Originally, ACCC brought legal proceedings against Google Australia and Google Ireland as well as Google Inc. and The Trading Post, but at yesterday's federal court hearing, the commission dropped its case against the two Google subsidiaries.

"The basis for this discontinuance was due to submissions made by Google Inc., the ultimate parent company of Google, that it is responsible for all representations made on www.google.com.au," the commission says. "After confirming this position, the ACCC agreed that it was appropriate that proceedings against Google Ireland and Google Australia only be discontinued as any outcome against Google Inc would necessarily be put into effect in Australia."

The ACCC also used yesterday's hearing to attack a new area of Google's results page. Previously, the commission had objected only to the sponsored links that pop up at the top of the results page, but now its saying that the ad links on the right-hand side of the page are misleading as well. In the words of The Australian, this surprised Google's lawyers.

According to the ACCC, it's the first organization to legally question the line between paid search results and unpaid. The labeling of sponsored links isn't a big issue in the U.S., but close to a dozen companies have sued Google for allowing their competitors to link sponsored links to their trademarks. This includes the world's largest airline.

Google did not responded to our request for comment, but the company previously told us the ACCC's case is unfounded: "From the outset, we have stated this case is wrongly based and we're now making our arguments to the Court," said spokesman Rob Shilkin. "Our focus is on delivering relevant information to Australian users and helping Australian businesses enjoy the benefits of search marketing." The court will revisit the ACCC case on November 16.®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.