Why Should Google, Microsoft & Yahoo Have To Pay Fines For Casino Advertising?
from the makes-no-sense dept
The pointless US campaign against online gambling has snared another bunch of innocent victims. A few years back, the DOJ started a new program: rather than trying to stop online gambling directly (since all were operating outside of the US), it would simply go after websites that ran ads from casinos. The problem is that this would appear to be a free speech violation. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped the folks in the Justice Department from applying pressure to companies -- and it looks like the three big search engines have caved. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to pay a combined $31.5 million for running ads from gambling sites in the past (the fines are to be paid as a mixture of cash, donations to charity and public service announcements). The companies aren't admitting guilt -- which seems reasonable because they're not guilty of anything. None of these companies was involved in illegal online gambling. None of these companies even embraced or endorsed illegal online gambling. As platform providers for ads, they simply allowed others to buy ads on their sites for online gambling sites. There shouldn't be any liability directly on those search engines -- but it's tough to fight the US gov't, and since the amounts are relatively small, it's not a huge surprise that the companies settled. It is unfortunate, though. No matter whether you are for or against online gambling, there's simply no reason to go after the search engines. If the ads themselves were illegal, go after those who bought the ads.