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Australian High Court rescues Google, says it isn't responsible for the content of ads

Sharif Sakr

No one can doubt the stamina of Australia's consumer watchdog, the ACCC. For six long years it hauled Google from hearing to hearing, court to court, in the belief that the internet giant should be held responsible for any "misleading" advertisements displayed as search results. But now the ACCC must accept defeat. Five judges of Australia's High Court have unanimously overturned an earlier ruling from a lower court that would have required Google to set up a compliance program to vet ads. The upshot is that Mountain View can't be blamed if one of those ads turns out to be deceptive. The specific example that triggered the lawsuit -- that if someone had searched Google in 2006 for the words "Honda Australia," they'd have been shown a sponsored link from one of Honda's rivals -- may already seem like an outdated objection. As a result of this final ruling, that's exactly what it is.

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