John Bruning upset as Google profits from ‘criminal activity’

LINCOLN — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning expressed concern Tuesday that Internet giant Google has become a financial “partner” with those promoting illegal activity via YouTube videos.

Bruning, in a letter Tuesday to Google, questioned the corporation’s selling of advertising that accompanies YouTube videos that, among other things, instructed people on how to forge driver’s licenses and passports.

The revenue from the ads, the attorney general said, is split between the company and the video producers, putting Google in a “financial partnership” with those seeking to promote “criminal activity.”

“Google stands to make money from ads running in conjunction with instructional videos on everything from illegally purchasing prescription drugs and making fraudulent passports to promoting human trafficking and terrorist propaganda,” Bruning said.

A Google spokesperson, when asked to respond, issued a statement that the corporation takes “user safety seriously” and has a review team that seeks to remove content that promotes dangerous, illegal activities.

“We also have stringent advertising guidelines, and work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate,” said the spokeswoman, Abbi Tatton.

The YouTube issue was raised last week during the summer meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in Boston. The letter sent Tuesday by Bruning was also signed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

This spring, after concerns were raised by several attorneys general, Google pledged to better police videos that promoted counterfeiting and obtaining drugs without a prescription.



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