Google has been found guilty by an Australian court for showing “misleading and deceptive” advertisements with its search results to Australians. The verdict comes right after an earlier ruling following an appeal by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) was overturned.
Google was found guilty of displaying ads for competitors of the company searched for.
Example: a search for Harvey World Travel returned ads for STA Travel – a competitor. The court said that this was likely to mislead customers into believing that there was an association between the two companies. The court then ordered Google to set up a compliance program so that it doesn’t make the same infringement in future.
Examples were all from a few years back but the ruling can potentially lead to a change over how Google returns its results in the future. The company, for its part, tells Bloomberg that it has changed the way it displays search results in recent years and is examining its legal options.
A Google spokesperson told The Next Web that the company is disappointed by the ruling:
We are disappointed by the Federal Court’s decision that Google should be responsible for the content of four particular ads on its platform. Google AdWords is an ads hosting platform, and we believe that advertisers should be responsible for the ads they create on the AdWords platform.
We’re committed to providing an advertising platform that benefits both advertisers and users. We investigate complaints about violations of our policies and terms and conditions, and if we are notified of an ad violating our terms and conditions we will remove it. We are currently reviewing our options in light of the court’s decision.