Google has appeared in an Australian court to fight charges of "misleading and deceptive conduct" regarding its sponsored links.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) argued in court that Google does not do enough to differentiate sponsored links and regular search results. This, in turn, hinders the ability for a company to gain an upper hand due to a sponsored search result featuring a competitor's advertisement.
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"Google represents to the world that its search engine is so good that it can rank, out of the multitudinous entries of the worldwide web, these entries in order of relevance of the user's query," ACCC barrister Christine Adamson told the court, according to AFP. "Part of that (reputation is) that it's not influenced by money, it's influenced by relevance."
ACCC claimed that in 2005, an Australian car dealership called the "Trading Post" purchased sponsored links from Google with the names of two competing dealerships, Kloster Ford and Charlestown Toyota. The ACCC argues that the Trading Post violated sections 52 and 53(d) of the Trade Practices Act of 1974 and is blaming Google for allowing it to happen.
The ACCC is asking for an injunction that would ban Google from displaying sponsored links that run in direct competition to the search results, along with more clearly defined sponsored link results, a Google trade practice and compliance program and coverage of all costs.
Google was quick to point out that its sponsored links service is automated and it only points to the fact that its algorithms perform extremely well. Google is asking for nothing in return, other than a dismissal of charges.
Unfortunately for both sides, the court will not make a decision until 4 October.