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Top Google Executives Approved Illegal Drug Ads 287

Hugh Pickens writes "PC Magazine reports that the U.S. government used convicted con artist David Whitaker, owner of an online business selling steroids and human growth hormone to U.S. consumers, to help federal agents in a sting operation against Google when he began advertising with Google with advertisements that included the statement 'no prescription needed,' clearly violating U.S. laws. Google's settlement with the U.S. government for $500 million blamed AdWords sales by Canadian pharmacies, who allegedly were selling drugs to U.S. consumers. 'We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago,' Google said then. 'However, it's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.' Peter Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island who led the multiagency federal task force that conducted the sting, claims that chief executive Larry Page had personal knowledge of the operation, as did Sheryl Sandberg, a Google executive who now is the chief operating officer for Facebook. In 2009 Google started requiring online pharmacy advertisers to be certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites program and hired an outside company to detect pharmacy advertisers exploiting flaws in the Google's screening systems."
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Top Google Executives Approved Illegal Drug Ads

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  • Oh noes the evil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @01:21PM (#38830465)
    Ya because Americans being able to get decently priced drugs, is such a crime. My father buys drugs from a company like the ones they mention in the ads. He can't afford drugs here in the USA even though the ones he gets from Canada are exactly the same, yet cost one tenth the price.
  • Re:500 million?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @01:24PM (#38830505)

    Sounds like a good cash grab for the government.

    500 million is petty chump change for the US federal government. You could define the Planck time in terms of how long 500 million dollars would keep the US government in operation.

    The whole thing is stupid anyway. Good drug dealers don't deliver ads to your browser. They use networks of trust.

    Like all such restrictions on what consenting adults do, these laws are a sort of IQ test -- the dumb ones get caught. The smart ones? Unless you participate you never even know they are there. This overuse of police power and regulatory authority breeds smarter dealers who are harder to catch just like what overuse of antibiotics does to staph.

    Seriously some of you really think all this regulation of some things and straight up prohibition of other things is changing anything? Every day you get in your car and drive to work I guarantee you, other drivers around you are high on something, carrying something, transporting something, about to sell something. This foolishness just makes them hide it, that's all.

  • Re:500 million?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @01:52PM (#38830869) Journal

    Agreed, no fees for drivers licenses and plates and marriage licenses. No tolls or other charges. All this crap is just a way to avoid using the tax system to pay for government services.

    Its made to SOUND fair, the people using the service pay the fee, but if you are pulling in a few billion a year its far more preferable to pay a $50 fee for your license plate* than to pay your fair share of the cost to provide everyone with plates under the progressive tax system. Who pays the difference between your million dollar fair share of that cost and the $50 you paid instead? The single mother of four whose kids went hungry last night, she works in a factory owned by the billionaire.

    Because nobody's time is worth billions. Those billions represent the labor of millions of fellow citizens and those citizens needed millions of license plates in order to produce those billions. The guy who ends up with the billions should pay for the license plates it represents, not the fellow citizens who did the work.

    *Analogy is slightly flawed since license plates exist primarily for the purpose of systematically charging fees and really should be gotten rid of.

  • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @02:00PM (#38831001) Homepage
    Not everyone can afford the alternative.
  • Re:500 million?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @02:36PM (#38831471)

    Sounds like a good cash grab for the government.

    500 million is petty chump change for the US federal government. You could define the Planck time in terms of how long 500 million dollars would keep the US government in operation.

    500 million is a huge windfall for the small agency that conducted the sting. Unfortunately it gives them the resources to setup and entrap other large companies. This happens all the time. Another example is the Michigan State agency that figured out how to go after people buying cigarettes over the internet and not paying state taxes - they got enough cash from the first round of lawsuits to triple the number of people working in that dept.

    If you read the article, it details just how much effort the govt put into convincing and tricking Google execs into accepting the ads. It's important to note that Google initially refused the ads entirely until they changed the website so that you had to contact the company directly (which makes the website an advertisement for services and not a store, btw). Then the feds had to keep nagging and begging to get the ads released in the US. This is a classic case of entrapment.

    I think Google just paid the $500 million because it's chump change to them and they want this to quietly go away as a long trial could have cost more in lawyers fees and damage to their reputation..

    Is the next target going to be eBay because they knowingly allow counterfeit items to be sold? They've already tried zinging them for this before.

  • Re:500 million?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @04:19PM (#38832841) Journal

    Actually if you look at our history the times of the highest growth was when the top tax rate was 70% or above which makes perfect sense if you think about it. you see when you have a tax rate that high for the uber rich if they sit on the money then they don't sit on the money, they invest it instead since there was all these provisions that lowered their tax rates if they used the money to increase productivity. Now they simply set it overseas thanks to being able to electronically send it anywhere in a nanosecond or just dodge the taxes all together like the double dutch and Irish tax scams. For a good read on the subject i'd suggest this article [] where the author lays it out clearly and concisely and puts that 'job creators need lower taxes' myth to bed. to see what the lowest taxes on the top 1% in the history of our country has done for us follow it up with this article [] which again lays out the facts and shows if lower taxes on the wealthy were to actually create jobs they sure as fuck aren't being created here.

    in the end its not about fair or letting some fifth generation superrich continue the dynasty, its about a government doing what its supposed to do which is promote the welfare of the entire country and not just a specific class. As Buffet so accurately put it "We have had class warfare for years and we're winning" which all you have to do is look out a window at the boarded up homes and closed factories across this once great nation to know this is true.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN