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Friday, September 21, 2012

Google Interfered in Aussie Election

Google seems to have troubles for allegedly choosing which political parties deserved attention in an Aussie election. The local press confirms that the Australian Sex Party has filed a complaint against the search giant with both the American Department of Justice and the Australian competition watchdog.

The complaint says that the company was corrupt and blames Google for illegally interfering with the conduct of the latest Victorian by-election. Google allegedly refused to run the party’s adverts in the lead-up to the July 12 election. And it wasn’t the first time that this has happened – the search giant also refused to run their advertisements during the last federal election.

In the meantime, Facebook also rejected Sex Party advertisements during the recent elections, claiming that the party promoted adult products and services. However, when this is carried out by a company, it equals to election fraud. The Sex Party leader Fiona Patten said that it means illegal interference in the conduct of a state election with a corrupt intent. Indeed, by treating this party differently to others Google broke the law and gave the Sex Party a disadvantage to the others.

Fiona Patten said it was corruption which enabled the search engine to earn more money. The matter is that the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate, while the federal government was considering laws and policies which affect the company’s business operations. That’s why it’s to the benefit of the search giant to treat the Greens favorably.

The search engine rejected the party's adverts for AdWords – sponsored search results – claiming that the party breached the program’s rules that prevent solicitation of donations by a site which didn’t show tax exempt status.

However, the Sex Party pointed out that all other parties also had donations buttons on their official websites without providing tax deductibility data. Still, the company didn’t accept the advertisements even after the party amended its website to state that donations under $1500 to political parties were tax-deductible. Moreover, the company simply ignored the party's letters. Finally, their adverts were only reinstated on election eve, after the media reported that they were about to sue Google.

In response, Google confirms that it’s taking the accusations very seriously, since the violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are of course prohibited under its "code of conduct"

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