There is one thing you can say about Google – they don’t give a damn. They don’t care about intellectual property rights. They don’t care about privacy of their users. And they don’t appear to care about the law in general.
Google has been fined an incredible $500 million by the Department of Justice for knowingly and illegally assisting Canadian pharmacies illegally importing drugs into the United States.
Google has admitted that as early as 2003 they were made aware that it was illegal for pharmacies to ship controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs into the United States from Canada. But Google facilitated the sales and importation of these drugs by marketing their AdWords program to Canadian pharmacies.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes the position that they cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of foreign prescription drugs. In fact, even though Canada has its own regulations regarding drug safety, Canadian pharmacies that ship prescription drugs to U.S. residents are not subject to Canadian regulatory authority, and many sell drugs obtained from countries other than Canada that lack adequate pharmacy regulations.
“The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. “This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history.”
“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha. “It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S. consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior. It is about holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem.”
What we see with Google are patterns – patterns of bullying small companies, violating privacy of its users and ignoring proper business practices and in this case, ignoring the law. No wonder the Federal Trade Commission and Congress have some questions for them. It’ll be interesting to find out what other laws they are routinely breaking.