Breeanne Howe writing in Redstate (“Google Profits From Sex Trafficking“) reported on the story and added some highly relevant additional facts:
In response [to a formal letter from Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Carolyn Maloney about Google-supported sex trafficking ads], Google pointed to it’s ban that explicitly prohibits “the promotion of escort services, prostitution, or other adult sexual services.” A spokeswoman also stated:
We have invested millions of dollars in monitoring and enforcing this ban — using the latest technology as well as manual review by teams who are specially trained to get bad ads, and bad advertisers, off Google,” the spokeswoman said. “We also work closely with law enforcement and other government authorities. But it’s a constant battle against these bad actors so we are always looking at ways to improve our systems and practices — including by working with leading anti-trafficking organizations.”
However, Google’s actions do not come close to matching their words.
Notice–like every public statement by Google, you have to read it very carefully. They conduct “manual review by teams who are specially trained to get bad ads, and bad advertisers, off Google.” Utoopi isn’t “on” Google. It’s on 50,000 or so Android phones by the look of it. (“No registration needed!” I bet.) And of course, what would be interesting to know is if Google serves in-app mobile advertising to Utoopi and which ads they serve if they do.
Ms. Howe continues with another highly relevant fact:
Despite having almost 50% of the smartphone market and over 15 billion app downloads, Google has no app approval process. Based on their political contributions, it would appear Google spends more time and money on achieving power with politicians than they do helping to fight sex-trafficking.
By comparison, when you search for Utoopi in the Apple App Store, it’s not there. Apple also has a rigorous app approval process, to the point that when you search for Utoopi in the App Store, you get a question from Siri:
Did you mean “stoopid”?
And then, of course, there’s the “Android Booty Call Hookup.” The problem is much bigger than just Utoopi, it’s the same problem that allowed Grooveshark to get posted in Android Market–twice.
It’s the same reason Google points to a massive amount of infringing content that earns them a million DMCA notices a week that they have acknowledged are 97% accurate. It’s the same reason they paid a $500 million fine to get out of a drug indictment, the same reason their board is fighting to keep from being deposed by Google stockholders.
The problem is that nothing says “Internet Freedom” like getting away with it. But the smartest guys in the room sure look dumb when they’re caught, whether they’re caught selling illegal drugs ads, hardwiring their products in search, snooping in your WiFi or taking pictures of your house. Or when these mack daddies help out pimps and traffickers with a handy Android app to join the sex club while obfuscating with Members of Congress.
Siri nailed the t-shirt for Google’s board: “I’m With Stoopid”
PS Maybe Google could conduct the same kind of manual review of advertising they sell on sites with illegal intellectual property? Now that we know they can do it, how about doing more of it? It’s got to be cheaper than handling over 50 million DMCA notices a year. And that’s what their advertisers all say they are entitled to, so even if Google doesn’t think that underage girls should be protected, they might protect their advertiser clients.