Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood will subpoena Google records and emails to determine if Google facilitated the sale of drugs without a prescription and other illegal products, including counterfeit copies of movies, games and music.
“Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk,” says Hood, “This is of grave concern to the chief law enforcement officers of this nation.” The attorney general heads an intellectual property section of the National Association of Attorneys General and is urging other attorney generals to follow his lead.
Search results reflect the web and what’s online – the good and the bad. Filtering a website from search results won’t remove it from the web, or block other websites that link to that website. It’s not Google’s place to determine what content should be censored – that responsibility belongs with the courts and the lawmakers.
Google did agree that “rogue pharmacies” are a matter of public concern, and that they will abide by any court ruling that determines web content to be illegal. “We have always removed from our search results any page found by a legitimate court to be unlawful, whether an online pharmacy or otherwise,” wrote legal director Adam Barea.
Hood was also concerned about Google’s autocomplete feature because it offered the words “no prescription” when a user searched for “buy oxycodone online.”
Google responded to the autocomplete concerns as well, stating, “Because the feature is algorithmic, some autocomplete entries may include phrases that potentially relate to rogue pharmacies. We’re evaluating how best to address this issue, have already started running tests on the subject, and always welcome feedback.”
Today, the same search did not result in “no prescription” as an autocomplete option, even though the first two search results included offers to buy the drug without a prescription.
According to Google’s Public Policy blog, the search giant worked with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies to take action against more than 4,100 Internet pharmacies worldwide during Operation Pangea last October. Also, Google claims it has blocked or removed more than 3 million ads by suspected rogue pharmacies during the last two years.