The search engine giant is being pressurized by a number of state attorneys to make it difficult for its users to find illegal drugs and counterfeit prescription medicine online. This marks the second time in the last three years that Google has come under the scrutiny of the government for its policies regarding the rogue pharmacies on the internet. 24 top prosecutors signed the letter that conveyed their complaints and it had given rise to private meetings with executives of the company earlier this year in Washington and Denver, which led to contentious exchanges regarding the policies of the company. The response of the company about these concerns has pleased some of the attorneys general, but others want Google to go even further.
Likewise, the ire of shareholders has also been raised because of the past practices of the tech giant as they have alleged in two lawsuits that the lax stance of the company towards prescription drug advertisement put it in financial and legal jeopardy until 2010. The company tried to persuade a California judge to drop these lawsuits, but was unable to accomplish its goal. Therefore, last month, Google had chosen to conduct settlement talks after emails had been obtained by the attorneys of the shareholders, which showed that around a decade ago top executives had warned the co-founder Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, then chief executive, about the risk of accepting such advertisements.
No comment was made by the company regarding the shareholder suits, but Google did mention that it was dedicating all its resources into putting a stop to the rogue pharmacies online and had disabled about 4.6 million health supplement and pharmaceutical ads last year as they were not up to its standards. Also, they had toughened their advertising policy from 2010 onwards, which had led to a 99.9% reduction in ads from unlicensed pharmacies. This renewed pressure concerning illegal pharmaceuticals has revived a thorny issue for the company.
$500 million had been forfeited by the search engine giant in 2011 and it had also changed its advertising practices for avoiding federal criminal charges because of the role it had played in aiding internet pharmacies to market drugs to consumers in the US. Due to this action, attention has also been drawn to the companyâs ties with the White House. Ethical and legal experts had considered this move unusual, but the Obama administration had given Google permission to participate in an event on this topic in the White House even though the company was under federal investigation.
Eric Schultz, the spokesman of the White House said that the event had been about efforts of different companies in curbing rogue online pharmacies and not just Google. Moreover, the Justice Departmentâs case against the company had not been affected by the event in any way. During its talks with the attorney general, the tech giant said that it had hired about 120 people for helping it in flagging rogue videos and advertisements. It also said that 1200 search phrases had also been eliminated to prevent the same.
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