Earlier this week, Google revealed in a cryptic filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was setting aside $500 million--equivalent to around one sixth of its revenue in the first quarter of 2011--to resolve a mysterious case with the Department of Justice.
Now, sources say that Google is nearing a settlement with regulators following a criminal investigation into allegations that the search giant profited from selling online ads to illegal pharmacies. These illicit pharmacies may violate U.S. law by peddling expired or counterfeit prescription medication, or selling medicine without a physician's prescription.
The $500 million Google may be required to pay would be unprecedented: According to the Wall Street Journal, "A payment of that size would be among the highest penalties paid by companies in disputes with the U.S. government."
Though Google has attempted to crack down on rogue pharmacies in the past--the company filed a suit against illegal prescription drug sellers last year and now requires pharmacies to receive accreditation before purchasing ads--people "familiar with the matter" said investigators are probing "the extent to which Google knowingly turned a blind eye to the alleged illicit activities of some of its advertisers—and how much executives knew," notes the Journal.
Google and the Department of Justice have declined to comment on the investigation. Google co-founder Sergey Brin dodged a question on the probe during Google's I/O conference.
"Luckily, since we changed roles a few months ago, I don't have to deal with filings, and the DOJ, the SEC or other acronyms," Brin said, according to the Journal.
The investigation could have far-reaching implications for Google's lucrative ad business.
We wonder if a lot of people who find their substance of choice is unavailable will be forced to go off their meds... that could be disastrous if done "cold turkey". But information on how to withdraw from psychotropic meds without doing yourself further harm is on this site. Check out our LINKS in the right-hand column - you will find info on halting antidepressants/SSRI's by Dr. David Healey and the excellent work by Dr. Heather Ashton on getting off Benzos - and other resources.