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Google Expected to Settle Over Drug Ads, to the Tune of $500M 138

Posted by timothy
from the don't-worry-the-government-is-here dept.
Animats writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that 'Google Inc. is close to settling a US criminal investigation into allegations it made hundreds of millions of dollars by accepting ads from online pharmacies that break US laws.' Google's acceptance of ads from unlicensed 'online pharmacies' is considered profiting from illegal activity. The Washington Post reports 'the inquiry could draw more attention to how vulnerable Google's automated system has been to the machinations of shady operators.'" The expected settlement's magnitude was hinted at in a recent SEC filing, which disclosed that Google has set aside a half-billion dollar fund on which to draw in this case.
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Google Expected to Settle Over Drug Ads, to the Tune of $500M

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  • Go go Google (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816)

    Looks like this is about Google refusing to stop advertising sites in Canada selling prescription meds to people without a prescription. In other words, this is about Big Pharma vs. YOU.

    • Re:Go go Google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@NOspam.gdargaud.net> on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:15AM (#36116710) Homepage
      If a pharmacy sells prescription meds without a prescription, they should have their license revoked and it doesn't matter where they are. If a non-pharmacy sells meds... then the laboratory that sells it to them should have its license revoked !
      • by gTsiros (205624)

        drugs are controlled with prescriptions, because otherwise people would scarf down whatever they wanted. Imagine people eating antibiotics like candy? Where would this lead? or antipsychotics? Oh i think i have $whatever let me get some promadiazepam or whatsitsname

        • by Chrisq (894406)

          drugs are controlled with prescriptions, because otherwise people would scarf down whatever they wanted. Imagine people eating antibiotics like candy? Where would this lead? or antipsychotics? Oh i think i have $whatever let me get some promadiazepam or whatsitsname

          Don't imagine, take a trip to Thailand. Actually it works pretty well.

          • by russotto (537200)

            Don't imagine, take a trip to Thailand. Actually it works pretty well.

            Most people can't imagine a freedom they don't have being anything but disastrous. Not even when presented with an example.

            • I can imagine. It makes me so sad that those who are timid and/or lack imagination work so hard to hold us back. I makes me want to write a song. A song about a world without the three pillars of existing order: the church, the state and private property.

              Maybe it would go like this:

              Imagine there's no countries
              It isn't hard to do
              Nothing to kill or die for
              And no religion, too

              Imagine all the people
              Living life in peace

              You, you may say I'm a dreamer
              But I'm not the only one
              I hope someday you wi
          • by arose (644256)
            Antibiotic-resistant strains are not an in-your-face problem. That doesn't make it any less serious. Show me research, not anecdotes.
        • by GooberToo (74388)

          It wasn't so long ago you could purchase antibiotics. A lot of first aid kits used to supply antibiotics. The problem they found, people did take antibiotics and worse, not a full regiment, which created antibiotic resistant strains of bugs. They started requiring prescriptions by doctor and that largely addressed the issue until doctors started over prescribing once big pharm starting giving rewards for pushing drugs.

          • by timeOday (582209)
            My problem with unlicensed drug sales is there's no quality control. There's HUGE money to be made (billions of dollars) selling diluted or outright fake drugs. It's bad enough with illicit drugs like marijuana where at least people can try it and find out what happens 2 minutes later; now consider a cancer drug, where the lack of efficacy might not be evident until months later... when you're dead.

            Fake drugs were the norm back in the 1900s and before. It still happens [nytimes.com], even with the FDA in place, but

            • by sjames (1099)

              A proper solution is to do away with prescription requirements for most drugs but maintain strict regulations on quality and content.

              Most of the people ordering prescription drugs over the internet would probably prefer to buy well regulated over the counter drugs at the corner drug store if they could.

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "It wasn't so long ago you could purchase antibiotics"

            You can still buy them all day long over the counter. Triple-biotic ointments and more.

          • The point of prescriptions has always been to boost prices and drive business to doctors. As long as you are willing to spend too much money you can legally get any drug you want in any quantity. Resistant bacteria are inevitable, but the enormous suffering caused by greedily withholding medicine is not.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            People will fail to finish the course of antibiotics whether the doctor prescribed them or they bought them themselves.

            If the problem is antibiotics then the law ought to say "antibiotics" and the problem is solved.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Who knows? It might lead to knowledgeable laymen fixing the American health care crisis by cutting out the expensive parts! Perhaps even the rampant use of cheap and effective generics instead of the expensive and no better patented name btrands.

          Antibiotics are already popped like candy by any whiner with insurance, however I would like to see that controlled better. For drugs that don't have such an externality to them, many question if prescriptions should be required at all. If people want to take antips

      • by ziriyab (549710)

        If a pharmacy sells prescription meds without a prescription, they should have their license revoked and it doesn't matter where they are. If a non-pharmacy sells meds... then the laboratory that sells it to them should have its license revoked !

        The online pharmacies aren't licensed by the US (from the article "Google knowingly accepted ads from online pharmacies, based in Canada and elsewhere..."), so the US can't revoke their licenses. The laboratory that sells to these legitimate pharmacies, licensed in their own countries, isn't doing anything illegal. This leaves Google as the only part of this chain that the US can punish.

        • No, the illegal part is shipping prescription drugs into the US. If these are not declared at customs, that's illegal. If they are, then the customs people should be doing their jobs and impounding them.
          • by Moryath (553296)

            So I'm confused though.

            Google is a worldwide company. If they run ads for a business, which is doing nothing wrong by the laws of its own country E.G. Canada (but happens to trip on the laws of the US), then why is Google liable?

            It sounds like the US needs to be talking to Canada about this, rather than harassing Google.

            Of course, that's not what the Big Pharma lobbyists want. They just want to shut the pharmacies down in the US and Canada, and this is one step to hurting them in both places.

            • by Wovel (964431)

              Because Google is running the ads in the US. Most of these campaigns are probably exclusively run in the US..

              • Most of these campaigns are probably exclusively run in the US.

                Sadly no... even living in Germany, I still see these ads for "Canadian Pharmacies" via Google's ads. Utterly pointless since I tend to get meds either for free or incredibly cheap (well below cost) due to the healthcare system here.

          • by cdrguru (88047)

            The US does not block anything being imported unless it is identified as illegal drugs - mostly by dogs sniffing it.

            There is just too much stuff coming in to bother and it would increase prices. It is illegal in the US to sell an unlicensed DVD player. It costs $5 per player for the proper license. So when you go to the store and buy one for $29.99 do actually believe the manufacturer paid $5 for the license? No way - there isn't an extra $5 in the pricing structure.

            Once you understand how this system w

      • Re:Go go Google (Score:4, Informative)

        by bioster (2042418) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:56AM (#36116956)
        Surprisingly, the laws in different countries are different. For example, in Canada there are some drugs which are completely legal to sell without a prescription whereas in the states you would need a prescription.

        FTA:

        The federal investigation has examined whether Google knowingly accepted ads from online pharmacies, based in Canada and elsewhere, that violated U.S. laws, according to the people familiar with the matter.

        So it looks like this is more of a cross-border shopping issue than anything else. People are going online and buying from Canadian companies things that are completely legal to buy and sell in Canada, but happen to be illegal where they are.

        I'm not entirely sure why you didn't get this, since the article itself points it out, AND the comment you responded to points it out.

        • I still seem to be able to go to google.ca to find the online pharmacies. The first shows up at about number four or five on the results list.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        If a pharmacy sells prescription meds without a prescription, they should have their license revoked and it doesn't matter where they are.

        Somehow, people in Europe and elsewhere around the world are able to buy drugs over-the-counter that are prescription-only here in the US. Yet they continue to survive.

        Does that mean Americans are so genetically inferior that we need special protections from ourselves or that all the laws regarding "prescription drugs" are just a giveaway to big pharmaceutical corporatio

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          The problem isn't lost profits but the brand name "Canadian Pharmacy" that has been taken over by folks operating from India and Indonesia.

          This got started by real, actual Canadian mail-order pharmacies selling cross-border which has been going on for 20 years or more. However, recently the "brand" has been taken over such that you are dealing with an operator in Southeast Asia rather than Canada. They do a pretty good job of disguising that fact but they will tell you that your package will be shipped di

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            So how do you stop people from buying fake drugs from supposedly "Canadian Pharmacies"?

            Tell them to make sure they're actually dealing with a Canadian pharmacy before they buy?

            If that's too hard, we should let them buy the drain cleaner marked "Viagra".

        • And that applies especially to the optical industry in America, where you not only need a prescription to buy a pair of glasses, but it has to be a recent prescription. I need glasses and my "prescription" for glasses hasn't changed in nearly twenty years, yet if I want a new pair of glasses and haven't seen an eye-doctor in the past year I have to go pony up just to get a piece of paper. No wonder our health care is more expensive than anywhere in the world.

          Ouch... that does indeed sound ridiculous and not something I was aware of. In most places I've lived (5 countries and counting), getting glasses means going to the appropriate place that sells them, where they'll give you an eye test (usually free), inform you of the prescription and then sell you the glasses.

          I only wear glasses for driving and that means I have a habit of sticking them in my top pocket and subsequently losing them when they fall out. If I had to visit an optometrist and pay for it every

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Well, let's see... a lot of this stuff is now coming from places other than any sort of licensed pharamcy with the pills being made up in the back room. License? They don't need a license, they have the Internet.

        Canada (well, RCMP for one) is trying to find ways to stop the folks advertising as a "Canadian pharmacy" when in reality the entire operation is being run from India or somewhere else in Southeast Asia. They aren't having much luck. I saw a single operator with around 50 different domains. Shu

        • by PPH (736903)

          Canada (well, RCMP for one) is trying to find ways to stop the folks advertising as a "Canadian pharmacy" when in reality the entire operation is being run from India or somewhere else in Southeast Asia.

          This is a valid concern for any regulatory agency. Here in the USA, we are expected to 'trust' our FDA and distrust everyone else. But in reality, I'd feel pretty comfortable about buying drugs under a Canadian or European regulatory regime. The problem becomes one of ensuring that one is actually doing business with the entities one thinks one is. I don't see much reason to prevent US customers from buying Canadian approved drugs ... as long as they know what rules govern their quality. Beyond big pharma'

  • What's the big deal with 500M when GOOG made billions out of these ads. Unless there is more severe punishment to the individuals who run these businesses, this wont stop.
    • Did Google make billions out of these ads? Surely there isn't that much money in just this area?

      What kind of ads were they out of interest? We don't really get many drug adverts in England.
      • Not that much money? I got the impression that illegal drugs was one of the most lucrative businesses in the world..

        • Re:Made Billions (Score:5, Insightful)

          by walshy007 (906710) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:51AM (#36116908)

          You think advertising spending alone for illegal drugs is billions? really? think about it.

          This is kind of like a pharma doing shady things posting an advertisement in the paper, then the government fining the paper for accepting the advertising when the company shown was dodgy.

          Unless google has specific legal obligations as an advertiser, the company that put the ad forward should be held accountable for their actions not google.

          baddies putting ads out makes it easier for cops to catch them, so why punish the advertisers?

          • by delinear (991444)
            Where the analogy falls down is that newspapers have editors who can preview the ads. This was a mostly automated system. Of course that's going to eventually encourage people engaged in shady activity to participate, it's obvious even from the outset, the fact that there were no gateways to prevent this is the issue. I'd expect the newspaper that just published any ad it was sent without reviewing it to be accountable for their wilful negligence, aside from scale I don't see a difference here (of course yo
            • The issue is whether Google profited off of illegal drug sales which they did not since the drugs were sold in Canada where they are perfectly legal. It's not like Google was running ads for a heroine trafficker, it was running ads for online Canadian pharmacies which can sell certain drugs free of prescription for significantly less than their American counterpart are selling them for. The companies themselves violated no laws in their own countries. Why don't you google "California Dispensary" and see
              • by cdrguru (88047)

                We are not talking about sales from real Canadian Pharmacies. We are talking about folks labelling themselves as a "Canadian Pharmacy" which is code for willing to sell without prescriptions and at a (supposedly) huge discount.

                This banner has been taken up by companies in India, Indonesia and other Southeast Asia locations. They advertise as a Canadian Pharmacy because Americans think that they are just getting a good deal from Canada.

                There is nothing legitimate about the pills they are selling. Most are

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 13, 2011 @07:21AM (#36116732) Homepage

    'Google Inc. is close to settling a US criminal investigation into allegations it made hundreds of millions of dollars by accepting ads from online pharmacies that break US laws.' Google's acceptance of ads from unlicensed 'online pharmacies' is considered profiting from illegal activity.

    In the last week I've seen ads for "xforex.com" which are basically foreign exchange scams promising a 500% ROI.

    I've definitely seen ads for 'online pharmacies', and possibly even for 'replica watches' ... I don't think Google cares about who they sell ads to, as long as they sell them.

    • It's an automated system. If it passes the auto-safeguards, it gets sent out. A human never sees them, because they get tens of thousands of ads per day.

      Wonder if Google might institute some sort of DMCA-like reporting system now.

    • by Daetrin (576516)
      I don't think Google cares about who they sell ads to, as long as they sell them.

      This is one of the problems with freedom. Do i want stupid ads for stupid products that take advantage of stupid people to be showing up? (Assuming i don't use an ad-blocker *cough*) Or do i want Google to review every ad submitted to them and pass them through a morality filter based on what _Google_ thinks is appropriate?

      If you want any kind of "freedom" in any arena then you have to accept that it's going to allow a lot
  • Why do ads from all over the world have to now be approved by the usa??
    Why is the ad firm in trouble, for what a person buys from another company?
    Is Google supposed to now police what licenses each company has placing ads?
    Then do each ad must get approved by some usa firm or government, for an ad from another country?

    Why is the buyer not responsible for what they buy?
    Or the company selling the items?

    Or is this the blame game, where they must blame someone or some company reachable, and extract money from th

    • by AGMW (594303)

      Why do ads from all over the world have to now be approved by the usa??

      The USA has a hard time understanding that there are other places in the World with their own sets of rules! It's a similar issue with online gambling - If there's a non-USA gambling website how can it be the website's problem if some bozo in the US-of-A visits the website and gambles! It's illegal for the gambler in the USA to gamble online, it is NOT illegal to offer online gambling! So it shouldn't be up to the website to prevent them (assuming it's not illegal where the website is hosted).

  • Peculiar policies (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lee1 (219161) <lee@leeBLUE-phillips.org minus berry> on Friday May 13, 2011 @08:03AM (#36117002) Homepage
    They still prohibit ads for legal products that they don't like:
    http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/static.py?hl=en&topic=28436&guide=28435&page=guide.cs&answer=176077 [google.com]
    "Google AdWords prohibits the promotion of certain weapons such as firearms, firearm components, ammunition, balisongs (switchblades), butterfly knives, and brass knuckles. This policy applies to the content of your ad and your website.
    (Emphasis added.)
    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      I guess it's because those items are illegal in enough jurisdictions (e.g. most of them are illegal in the one that I live in) that it's not worth their while taking the adverts and doing regional filtering.

      • by lee1 (219161)
        Is your jurisdiction in the US? There is no jurisdiction within the US in which the ownership of any type of firearm is illegal. This was never true even in DC before they lost the recent Supreme Court case. Our constitution does not permit such laws. As I said, they are prohibiting the advertising of legal products.
        • Owning them is legal, but selling or even giving them away is restricted in many states, and that is what they ads are for; selling them.

          Interstate commerce of Switchbades and butterfly knifes is banned by the Federal SWITCHBLADE Act. Brass Knuckles of any material are not legal and therefore cannot be sold to people in the states of: MA,CA,NY,MI,RI and IL. Metallic Knuckles may not be sold to FL. And gun laws are even more varied and confusing.

          I think this should all be legal, but it's not Google's fault t

        • by mckorr (1274964)

          There is no jurisdiction within the US in which the ownership of any type of firearm is illegal. This was never true even in DC before they lost the recent Supreme Court case. Our constitution does not permit such laws.

          Possession of fully automatic weapons is illegal everywhere in the United States, unless the owner has a federally issued Class 3 firearm license. They don't just hand those out to everyone who wants them. In addition, certain jurisdictions limit the the types of firearms you can own. Often these restrictions are completely illogical ("assault weapon" bans, for example, which ban some weapons based on what they look like, not on how they function,) but they do not violate the 2nd Amendment.

          • by lee1 (219161)
            I am guilty of some ambiguous wording. I meant to say that there is no jurisdiction in which the ownership of every type of firearm is illegal. That is to say, at least some type of firearm, if only shotguns and "normal" rifles, is legal to own in every state. In other words, no state bans all firearms, and such a ban would clearly be unconstitutional. Sorry for the sloppy construction. (I do not agree with you that illogical restrictions on weapons somehow do not violate the second amendment.)
    • Weapons aren't legal in most of the civilized world... Illegal possession of firearms gets you at least a year behind bars in my country... An illegal knife (>= 2.7 Inches) gets you a week, and that's the minimum punishment...
      • by Tim C (15259)

        True, but Google is an American company and the issue here is that they've been fined for not banning ads for products that are illegal in America but legal in the country that the advertiser is operating in.

        Thus, if they're banning ads for things that are legal in their jurisdiction, why are they not also banning ads for things that are illegal in their jurisdiction?

        • by Inda (580031)
          It's an international company with many offices around the world.

          The sooner the Yanks realise they're not the centre of the universe, the sooner some progress will be made.
          • by mckorr (1274964)
            It doesn't matter where their offices are, it matters where they are incorporated. Google is incorporated in the US, and hence is expected to follow US law, even if those laws are idiotic, or a half century out of date.
            • It doesn't matter where their offices are, it matters where they are incorporated. Google is incorporated in the US, and hence is expected to follow US law, even if those laws are idiotic, or a half century out of date.

              The thing with many large organisations, including Google, is that they're "incorporated" in many different places. Google Germany is a "GmbH" for example. That means they're a German run company and must follow the laws of Germany. The fact that their parent company happens to be an incorporated entity in the US is totally irrelevant from a legal perspective. In the same way, the company I work for has a Japanese headquarters, but we're a GmbH as well. We follow German laws, rules and regulations and

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        2.7 inches? that's crazy small. Most kitchen knives are easily that big? What about hunting knives? Seriously, a knife is a tool. Has many other users than killing things. Guns, I can see the need for a licence, because improper user can cause death, but knives, you have to actually try to kill someone, or have a freak accident. Even if you cut off your finger, you aren't going to kill yourself.
      • by sessamoid (165542)

        Weapons aren't legal in most of the civilized world... Illegal possession of firearms gets you at least a year behind bars in my country... An illegal knife (>= 2.7 Inches) gets you a week, and that's the minimum punishment...

        My old German professor would be shocked to hear that his hunting rifle is illegal.

    • They still prohibit ads for legal products that they don't like: [Google policy banning adds whose text or web site promotes weapons.]

      They're a private company. They get to prohibit ads for anything they want to (provided they don't illegally discriminate between different sellers of similar products).

      Don't like it? Use another search engine.

      (I don't like their prohibition on weapons ads . But freedom means letting other people do things you don't like.)

  • Federal hypocrisy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531)

    They let Merck off from the full punishment when one of its business units was caught systematically defrauding Medicare because the full punishment, complete blacklisting from Medicare, would have risked bankrupting Merck. This is also the same government that prosecutes some Islamic schmuck who thinks he's giving money to aid Palestinians who are going without (but the "charity" is really a Hamas front), but then gives the "Palestinian Authority" hundreds of millions in funds (much of which is to arm itse

    • by jimicus (737525)

      There is actually some logic to this. A company is more than just the big guns at the top, and bankrupting it would put a lot of people out of work - including people who had nothing to do with the fraud.

      It'd make far more sense to levy a stonking great fine against the company and allow prosecutors to lift the corporate veil in sufficiently large cases to hold directors personally liable.

      • by sjames (1099)

        They could force it to operate on a non-profit basis without firing anyone at all.

        • by jimicus (737525)

          A spot of creative accounting can easily deal with that. I wonder how many companies - on paper at least - already make practically zero profit for tax reasons?

          • by sjames (1099)

            Except that as a 'prisoner' the company would have no privacy. Federal auditors could have direct access to everything..

            • by jimicus (737525)

              I don't see it'd make much difference. The reason is that tax law tends to be quite complicated, and there is no law against moving your assets and debts around in such a way as to minimise your tax liability. As such, these tax dodges tend to be perfectly legal. The only grey areas are where it depends on a specific interpretation of the law where there isn't existing case law, and in such cases it's not at all unknown for the company to go to court to claim that their interpretation is correct and get

              • by sjames (1099)

                We're not talking about standard tax practices here, we're talking about a company found guilty of a crime serving the equivalent of a prison sentence.

                The corporation would be considered a prisoner. Like a person in prison, it goes where the guards say when the guards say. It has no right to privacy at all, everything is watched. If money moves around without permission from the guards, it gets moved right back and a year is added to the sentence. Meanwhile, whoever ordered the transfer is subject to person

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday May 13, 2011 @08:39AM (#36117254) Journal
    On the one hand, if the feds have internal emails or similar to the effect of "Sales minion: 'Hey boss, the new clients are clearly illegal scammers.' Sales Manager: 'Minion, illegal scammers pay good money for ads. You didn't see them. Also, unless I 'don't see' at least 30% more by the end of the fiscal year your ass is out the door..." then there is a good argument to be made that Google ought to be on the hook.

    There are two aspects that worry me, though: Presumably, as with many high-volume electronic services, most of the bulk Adwords sales receive basically no human scrutiny, and would probably have transaction costs too high to be workable if they did. Many online services are like that, many retail services are like that, cheap cellphones, etc, etc. Creating an implied duty to vet all customers for virtually anything that might have criminal use, on pain of major lawsuits/fines should some of the customers turn out to be criminals, seems wildly dangerous. Even the largely draconian DMCA specifically avoided doing that.

    Second, of course, is the concern about making the internet either a highly fragmented geolocated-to-death zone, or an "all entities bound by the union of all sets of laws" one. In this case, for instance, a nontrivial percentage of the US lies pretty close to the Canadian border. It is hardly implausible that canadian businesses might wish to advertise to american audiences certain goods and services that are only legal if they cross the border, nor is doing so obviously criminal(in a similar vein, there isn't anything illegal about running ads for Vegas vacations in states that ban gambling, or prostitution ads in Vegas, despite the fact that you have to leave the county to legally purchase the services offered.)

    Obviously, a nontrivial percentage of discount canadian pharmacies do offer to assist in breaking US law, by mailing you some drugs, often with minimal documentation, and a nontrivial percentage of ads for gambling are for illegal online betting, rather than for visits to establishments in different jurisdictions; but it isn't as though a simple keyword search is necessarily going to distinguish between the two, and a crackdown on something with legitimate applications always has potential to go to unfortunate places...
  • Do other search engines do the same thing? Or similar things? Why is google being singled out for doing something that other search engines were doing before google existed?

    If I get email for a bogus product, is the email carrier responsible? If I use paper to print out ads for a bogus product, is the paper manufacturer responsible?

  • Google should match every dollar in the settlement with a dollar towards getting these anti-competitive laws repealed.

    Scratch that, that just rewards the incumbent scumbags. Google should put the money into backing pro-freedom candidates. Though given Google's political leanings, that's not going to happen.

    • Google should put the money into backing pro-freedom candidates. Though given Google's political leanings, that's not going to happen.

      Yeah... that must be it. Google must hate our freedoms. God knows it's got nothing about around 95% "pro-freedom" candidates being far-right loonies.

  • Curious when eBay is going to be requested to cough up profits from all the sales of counterfeit products over the years.

    I thought "profiting from illegal activity" was part of the 21st century business model. You don't do something illegal, but you allow people doing something illegal pay you for your service. Lawyers have been collecting fees from organized crime for years, but our judicial system allows that to some extent. Other things, not so much, but rarely prosecuted.
    • Curious when eBay is going to be requested to cough up profits from all the sales of counterfeit products over the years.

      Ditto radio stations: I've heard so many viagra (and variants) and "make money at home" ads on radio lately that it's starting to sound like an email inbox with no spam filter.

      • by Relayman (1068986)
        I forgot all the scam ads I've heard and seen. If I put ads on one of my Web sites, I hope to be able to use a service that filters out the scams.

        Again, you want "plausible deniability:" "I didn't know selling crack through mail order was illegal when I ran that ad!"
  • If this is illegal why the hell isn't it illegal for pharmaceuticals to advertise drugs that 95% of the American public don't need? It's not like someone is ever going to see a commercial for one of the countless stupidly named drugs out there and demand them from their doctor. It's insane.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      It's not like someone is ever going to see a commercial for one of the countless stupidly named drugs out there and demand them from their doctor.

      That is exactly what happens. People see the ad and think "Gosh, I bet I have that disease. I better get these pills right away." They then go to the doctor and demand not a a cure for some aliment they may or may not have but demand a brand-name drug. Period.

      In some groups of people this gets very much out of hand. Some doctors end up having to prescribe the drug just to shut the patient up. I believe in some cases they write a prescription that tells the pharmacy to put some sugar pills in a bottle

    • by sjames (1099)

      Apparently, the problem is that NAFTA is supposed to let expensive executives boost profits using cheap labor across the border. They're ticked that consumers are boosting their own financial well being by using cheap executives across the border. Imagione the disaster if supply and demand pushed CEO salary+bonus to under a million a year!

  • > The federal investigation has examined whether Google knowingly accepted ads from online pharmacies, based in Canada and elsewhere, that violated U.S. laws, according to the people familiar with the matter ..

    What specific laws are they violating and who is lobbying on Capitol that Google keeps geting into litigation with the US gov?

    • And why aren't the US gov going after the advertisers ?

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Can't. Nearly all of them are outside the US and protected in their home country. And raking in enough dough that they can afford to keep the locals paid off.

        These days there are no Internet "Canadian Pharmacies" that are actually in Canada. The business of selling fake pills from India has completely taken over the business of selling real pills from Canada.

  • From TFA:

    The federal investigation has examined whether Google knowingly accepted ads from online pharmacies, based in Canada and elsewhere, that violated U.S. laws, according to the people familiar with the matter.

    Google's system, if I understand it correctly, is largely automated. To what degree should Google (or any other site like Craigslist) be expected to make an extra effort to police certain advertisers for compliance with local laws? Law enforcement needs to put the donuts down and do their jobs.

  • So if an illegal online pharmacy wants to buy a billboard ad on route I-95, does the advertising company verify that the pharmacy is breaking no US laws before allowing the ad? If they do not, are they liable because they profited? How about newspapers? Is every advertisement in the classifieds section operating 100% within the law?

    Where is the line drawn here?

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