Google tabbed over sponsored links

SYDNEY - The Australian consumer watchdog is taking global search engine Google to court over ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ in the way it tabulates search results.

By (DPA)

Published: Thu 12 Jul 2007, 5:01 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:19 PM

In what it says is a landmark case, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges that US-based Google Inc breached the Trade Practices Act by failing to adequately distinguish between sponsored links and those that would come up in the normal course of an internet search.

The watchdog also demanded that Google stop publishing search results that didn’t identify which were paid advertisements and which were ‘organic’ results.

‘This is the first action of its type globally,’ the ACCC said in a statement. ‘Whilst Google has faced court action overseas, particularly in the United States, France and Belgium, this generally has been in relation to trademark use.’

The ACCC claims it is the first regulatory body to seek legal redress over alleged trade practices infringements. The case will be heard before the Federal Court in Sydney next month.

Google said in a statement that the claims were without merit and would be defended vigorously.

‘They represent an attack on all search engines and the Australian businesses, large and small, who use them to connect with customers throughout the world,’ Google Australia spokesman Rob Shilkin said.

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