Google, the ACCC and the High Court.


I do sometimes wonder if media commentators read Court judgements. The High Court has determined that Google, by providing its AdWords program is a ‘conduit’ for advertising but does not endorse that advertising. So if misleading and deceptive advertisements come up through a Google search then the advertisers are in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act. But Google is not.

Essentially Google is a ‘publisher’ on the internet with the same rights and obligations as bricks-and-mortar publishers. This is a good outcome. The Full Federal Court decision created a regulatory mess and the High Court has fixed it up. I discuss this in more detail at the Conversation.

So is this a loss for the ACCC. No! The law was unclear and the ACCC carried out one of its key functions – it brought a case that clarifies the law. This is a costly process, but it is the best one we have.

And for those calling for the law to be changed. Please take a ‘chill pill’ and have a good lie down. The High Court decision means that the law works and the online and physical worlds face the same rules for misleading and deceptive behaviour. This is a good outcome.

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