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ACCC v Google

Mark Edwards
16-07-2007

In a case which could have far reaching consequences, if successful, the ACCC is taking action against Trading Post Australia Pty Ltd and Google.
The ACCC alleges that Trading Post contravened the Trade Practices Act 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.
This appears to be deceptive and does warrant action. The question being asked by many people about this case is, does the responsibility rest with the advertiser or with Google as the ad agency?
Further, the ACCC is alleging that Google, by failing to adequately distinguish sponsored links from "organic" search results, has engaged and continues to engage in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of the Act.
On this point, I don't feel that Google has much responsibility. People generally are well aware of what is the paid content and what is organic search results when using Google.
It will be interesting to see how this progresses and what changes, if any, this will bring to online advertising in Australia.

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