In what has become a routine occurrence, Google’s reckless business practices have been reined in by law enforcement officials with news of a $500 million settlement over Google allowing illegal ads for online pharmacies, despite knowing that those ads violate the law. This latest incident is part of a pattern for Google of breaking the law and breaking trust with their customers, while apologizing later and promising never to do it again. From illegal copying of copyrighted material in the Google books case to collecting personal information in the Spy-Fi scandal to allowing illegal online ads, the company has shown an utter disregard for privacy, consumer protection and the law. As a result, their business practices have come under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, the DOJ, various state attorneys general (of both parties) and of international agencies.

In its harshly worded statement, the Department of Justice wrote:

“The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable companies who in their bid for profits violate federal law and put at risk the health and safety of American consumers,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. “This settlement ensures that Google will reform its improper advertising practices with regard to these pharmacies while paying one of the largest financial forfeiture penalties in history.”

“This investigation is about the patently unsafe, unlawful, importation of prescription drugs by Canadian on-line pharmacies, with Google’s knowledge and assistance, into the United States, directly to U.S. consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Neronha. “It is about taking a significant step forward in limiting the ability of rogue on-line pharmacies from reaching U.S.consumers, by compelling Google to change its behavior. It is about holding Google responsible for its conduct by imposing a $500 million forfeiture, the kind of forfeiture that will not only get Google’s attention, but the attention of all those who contribute to America’s pill problem.”

The Justice Department is sending a strong message to companies like Google that this type of illegal behavior puts consumers in jeopardy, with potentially unsafe medications will not be tolerated. Companies that continue to flout the law time and time again must learn that this behavior will be stopped through strong enforcement of the law.