Google ‘is putting internet shoppers at risk by refusing to remove links to scam websites from their searches’
- Fake goods in top three results in more than 25 per cent of cases, study found
- Scammers sell counterfeit items in order to secure users’ card details for theft
- Google confirmed it doesn’t remove URLs on trademark grounds upon request
Google has been accused of putting shoppers at risk by refusing to remove links to scam websites from its searches.
The internet giant includes first-page results featuring counterfeit sellers when people use the search engine.
Up to 60 per cent of links that appeared on the first page of results offered potentially dangerous goods as well as fakes, a study says.
Researchers found counterfeit items appearing in the top three results in more than 25 per cent of cases.
The search engine giant has been accused of putting its shoppers at risk because it does not removed scam website links from its results
The study involved millions of searches in the sale areas of children’s products, pharmaceuticals, car parts, white goods and safety equipment.
It found six in 10 of Google’s first-page results after searches for the cystitis drug Bactrim were for sites ‘very likely’ to be acting outside the law.
One third of the results for children’s products turned up a brand of baby teething toy with potentially harmful products.
The report – published today by fake goods monitoring site Incoprom – says Google routinely rejects requests to remove links on the basis of trademark infringement.
Scammers use counterfeit goods to secure card details from online shoppers and steal their cash (file photo)
It says: ‘When our lawyers asked Google to clarify its position on de-indexing websites where trademarks are infringed, it confirmed that it did not “at this time de-index URLs or websites from its web search index on trademark grounds upon request”.’
Google enjoys an 87.5 per cent market share in Britain and the study says says sites are pushing fake goods to secure shoppers’ card details.
The web giant says that it acts on guidance from administrative agencies to remove harmful pages.
A spokesperson told The Times: ‘Search is an index of the web, and the sites in our results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not by Google. When people come to search, we aim to help them find relevant and reliable information.
‘We are continuously improving our algorithms to protect people from deceitful sites. We comply with court orders to remove pages from our index, and we will also act on guidance from administrative agencies to remove pages seeking to unlawfully distribute goods that can cause physical harm.’