Australia's consumer watchdog launched legal action accusing Google of misleading web users Thursday in a case that analysts said would "send a shudder" through the global IT industry.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
alleged Google has misled users by misidentifying sponsored
links that appear on its results page, a major source of
income for online search engine providers.
The ACCC also demanded Google stop publishing search results
that failed to distinguish between paid advertisements and
It said the case arose in 2005 when Google's search engine
listed two car dealerships from the New South Wales city of
Newcastle as sponsored links, which are paid for by
companies to attract Internet users.
The ACCC will seek declarations from the Federal Court that
Google and Trading Post breached trade practices
legislation, as well as injunctions preventing Google from
publishing results that did not distinguish adverts.
Google Australia said it would fight the action.
The case is listed for an initial hearing in the Federal
Court on August 21.