Democratic Senator Blumenthal Blasts Google Ads

Google has failed to take down scam ads that violate its policies, according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chair of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection.

In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, first reported by The Washington Post on Tuesday, Blumenthal wrote that Google’s policies about deceptive ads “often appear to be dead letter law” because of its lack of enforcement.

“I am deeply concerned that Google appears unwilling to protect consumers and small businesses on Google Ads, and has demonstrated inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse,” he wrote.

Blumenthal’s letter cites a 2021 article from The Markup that found Google ran ads made to look like government websites in violation of its own policies. At the time, a Google spokesperson told the publication it removed the violating ads.

But Blumenthal said his office recently found deceptive ads using the same keywords mentioned in the article. His staff also found ads for misleading health treatments, he added.

Google has in the past added verification processes meant to limit impersonation of government services, like getting a passport.

But Blumenthal charged that the continued existence of deceptive ads burdens small businesses by making it harder and more expensive for their sites to surface in search results, while padding Google’s pockets.

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