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Google asked to explain why it sells ads on YouTube videos “promoting illegal acts”


Two Attorneys General have written to Google to ask why it profits from advertising on YouTube videos which “depict or even promote dangerous or illegal activities.”

The letter follows the publication of a report by the Digital Citizens Alliance entitled Google, YouTube and Evildoers: Too Close for Comfort, presented to the National Association of Attorneys General last month. DCA Executive Director Tom Galvin commented then:

Google has allowed thousands of videos to exist on YouTube that offer drugs, prostitution, forged passports, counterfeits and content theft. Worse, they have profited from them by running ads in conjunction with these videos.  Hopefully, the attorneys general will be able to get answers others have failed to get.  Namely why such an important, otherwise great company is putting profit over the safety of Internet users. When Google finally takes steps to ensure these dangerous videos are gone for good from YouTube, the Internet will be a safer place.

Given fierce rivalry between Microsoft and Google, however, it pays to be a little circumspect in giving too much weight to organisations whose sources of funding are not clearly stated. We’ll await Google’s response with interest.

The vast majority of Google’s revenue comes from ad sales, with Google leading the market in the sale of mobile ads in particular.