According to the Wall St. Journal (11/25/12), Google was caught in a criminal sting operation that the company recently settled for $500 million. Question: Was the punishment enough when top Google executives were knowingly involved?
Larry Page, Google’s Chief Executive admitted in a U.S. Attorney investigation, that he knew the pharmaceutical ads on Google websites were illegal. Those websites were not licensed pharmacies, but were selling such narcotics as oxycodone and hydrocodone. it was also discovered that a Google sales office in China was selling Prozac and Valium to U.S. customers without a prescription.
Further, it was found in an investigation by Consumer Watchdog that a large number of companies selling loan modification schemes on Google were fraudulent. In November 2011, the Troubled Asset Relief Program said it had shut down 85 alleged online modification schemes that defrauded homeowners through Google ads.
In light of the above facts, was the Google punishment adequate? I would vote “no.” A half billion dollars is a large forfeiture, but Google presently holds cash of $45 billion. Secondly, purchasers of illegal drugs could cause serious harm to the health of sick online customers. Third, I doubt the punishment will deter other online sellers who will probably continue pushing illicit drugs.