The Edmond Sun

July 3, 2013

Attorney General outlines concern over Google videos

Oklahoma AG seeks Google info on ‘dangerous’ videos

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is seeking information from Google related to earning revenue on potentially dangerous videos through YouTube.

Pruitt and Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning co-signed a letter to Google dated July 3 outlining their states’ concerns regarding business practices related to the videos.

YouTube is a website known to be particularly popular among children and teens, the AGs stated. Children are able to buy drugs without a prescription through Google, according to a separate letter dated April 1, 2013, sent by Mississippi AG Jim Hood to the company.

Pruitt and Bruning cited topics discussed during last week’s National Association of Attorneys General meeting, which included intellectual property crimes in the global online marketplace. YouTube video screen shots depicted images regarding buying potentially dangerous drugs such as the pain relievers Oxycontin and Percocet without a prescription, downloading pirated content and sex club promotions.  

The AGs cited how-to guides that could be used to commit crimes ranging from under-age drinking to acts of terrorism. They also cited videos produced by foreign “pharmacies” that promote the sale of drugs without a prescription and videos providing how-to guides for creating a forged driver’s license and passports.

They cited a revenue-sharing practice called monetizing, which involves producers posting videos on YouTube that promote illegal activity. Both Google and the producers split revenue from advertising that appears when the videos are displayed, the AGs stated.

“These videos promote illegal conduct and can lead to other crimes from prescription drug abuse to terrorism,” Pruitt said. “The fact that Google may be profiting off of these videos that are peddled to kids and teenagers is unconscionable.”

Bruning said he intends to get answers on behalf of Nebraskans. Google declined an invitation to attend the AG’s meeting, according to Bruning.

Pruitt and Bruning seek information about the number of videos removed from January 2011-June 2013 for violating YouTube policies that prohibit the posting of illegal and objectionable content; how many of them had been monetized by Google and associated revenue; measures Google has taken to avoid hosting paid advertising on videos containing illegal or objectionable content and measures taken to remove paid advertising from videos containing such material; and measures used to remove a large number of videos containing potentially objectionable content along with an explanation of why they were removed during the week following a June 7 article in USA Today detailing these issues.

Pruitt and Bruning stated information from Google has failed to adequately address their concerns. They stated they are ready to take appropriate action to safeguard their citizens.

They stated they understand YouTube is an open platform and that not all content can or should be policed. They don’t have an issue with the practice of monetizing, but were disappointed to learn that many monetized videos on YouTube depict or promote dangerous illegal activities.

Their letter, addressed to Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker, set a 30-day deadline for a response.

In April, Google’s Washington, D.C., office replied to an inquiry by Hood, Virginian Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli and Hawaiian Attorney General David Louie.

In the 7-page response, Google public policy executive John Burchett stated the company is committed to developing effective policies and technology tools to combat infringing activities. Google has committed tens of millions of dollars in engineering and other resources to address these issues, Burchett stated.

Burchett stated that Google successes include: Processing more notices than any other search engine; developing sophisticated automated systems based on advanced risk that rely on thousands of data signs to detect fraudulent activity by advertisers including counterfeit; creating the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies; and removing ads from sites that engage in copyright infringement. | 341-2121, ext. 108