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June 30th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Google braces for huge fine from rogue drug ads

New York (CNN) - Internet search giant Google is bracing for a fine that could top $500 million, after a federal probe of illegal online pharmacy ads placed on the website over the past three years, CNN has confirmed.

Law enforcement sources tell CNN that federal prosecutors in Rhode Island, along with undercover agents from the Food and Drug Administration, are heading up a massive investigation aimed at showing Google knowingly took advertising money from websites selling highly addictive drugs without a legitimate prescription.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Providence told CNN he could "neither confirm nor deny" reports of the probe, and Google declined comment "since this is a legal matter."

But in early May, Google filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying it was setting aside $500 million to potentially resolve a case with the Department of Justice. In its filing, Google stated only that the matter involved "the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers."

If a fine of $500 million or higher is in fact imposed on Google, legal experts say it would be the largest such penalty in U.S. history.

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soundoff (One Response)
  1. Lori Lowe

    Google is a tool .... an "on-line pointer system" ... that is all. No one is "forcing" anyone to buy a product from a Google advertiser. The "consumer" is responsible for his / her own actions. Read the constitution .... freedom of speech.

    June 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm |