Australia Doesn’t Like The Google

I’m not quite sure what it is, but those Aussies don’t seem to be as big as a fan of Google as we are here in the States. Too many kangaroo kicks to the head or something. Okay, okay, I’m kidding, I don’t want Des and Jeremy from Bruce Clay Australia to come kick me in the head!

But in all seriousness, it seems like every couple of months we hear about another international squabble between Google and Australia, and it’s about that time again.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed a federal suit against Google Inc., Google Ireland Limited, and Google Australia on July 12th accusing them of partaking in "misleading and deceptive conduct".

What’d they do now?

Well, the ACCC alleges that Google breached section 52 of the Trade Practices Act when the engine failed to distinguish between sponsored links and organic search results for the query [Newcastle car dealers], consequently hurting two local car dealers.

Below is an excerpt from the filing:

"The ACCC is alleging that Trading Post contravened sections 52 and 53(d) of the Trade Practices Act 1974 in 2005 when the business names "Kloster Ford" and "Charlestown Toyota" appeared in the title of Google sponsored links to Trading Post’s website. Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota are Newcastle car dealerships who compete against Trading Post in automotive sales."

Google has issued its boilerplate response saying they believe these claims to be without merit, blah, blah blah, and they will defend against them vigorously. You know the drill.

The first hearing in the case is scheduled for August 21 and it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out for a couple of reasons. First, this time it’s not a small little Chihuahua going up against Google; it’s the Australian government. That’s like…a herd of Chihuahua’s or maybe a handful of Newfoundlands. [Maybe they’re dingoes?–Susan] Also, the Australian government isn’t going after Google for trademark infringement like everyone else in the world, instead they’re looking at is as a trade practices problem.

Ars Technica reported that not only is the ACCC asking Google to adequately distinguish between organic and paid listings to prevent confusion, they’re also asking advertisers to stop sponsoring links that could even suggest "an association, sponsorship or affiliation with another business". If an advertiser does create such an ad, the ACCC is asking Google not to publish it. If Google has to start monitoring and denying ads that could cut into both their resources and their profits from ad selling. And if Australia is successful, I’m not sure it’s not too long before Belgium decides to cry trade practices as well.

What? You know how those Belgians are!

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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