By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is calling on Google to stop posting and profiting from content on its subsidiary, YouTube, depicting dangerous or illegal activities.
Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt have written a letter to Google calling on the company to stop allowing its subsidiary, YouTube, to post videos that show people how to do things such as build a bomb, buy drugs without a prescription, get an underage prostitute, make a fake ID or passport or buy counterfeit merchandise. Google profits from ads sold alongside such videos.
Bruning told KLIN’s “Drive Time Lincoln” on Tuesday that the attorneys general have been monitoring this situation for awhile and may “act in concert” with legal action if Google doesn’t respond.
“But at this point they’ve been extremely arrogant in dealing with the attorneys general,” Bruning said.
The issue was discussed in Boston last week at the summer meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General. At a presentation led by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood regarding online crime, attorneys general from across the country were shown screen shots from YouTube videos running in conjunction with Google Ads. The YouTube video screen shots captured images related to purchasing potentially dangerous drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet without a prescription, downloading pirated content and sex club promotions.
Representatives from Google refused an invitation to attend the NAAG meeting.
Bruning accused Google of having a “lackadaisical attitude toward Internet safety and consumer protection” in a news release.
“If they want to go to legal war with the 50 state attorneys general, that’s their prerogative,” Bruning said on KLIN.
Bruning said Yahoo had a similar attitude when he went after them a decade ago for hosting chat rooms such as “10-year-old girls looking for older men” where sexual predators could prey on children. But after New York joined the effort, the company paid Nebraska a million dollars and has since been “a model citizen.”
Bruning said companies like to “hide behind the First Amendment” —of which he is a “big supporter” — but need to think beyond “just making money.”
He said Google has a “clear option” — remove the content and stop profiting from it. But he says the company is dragging its feet and threatened to use his subpoena power to get them moving.
“They’re trying to play slowball,” he said of Google.
Bruning’s letter notes that while Google has responded in the past by touting its efforts to combat counterfeit and pirated merchandise and illegal prescription drugs, “that commitment is not consistent with Google receiving advertising revenue from content that promotes illegal content.”
Google has not yet responded to a request for comment.
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