The Australian Sex Party has lodged a complaint against Google with both the US Department of Justice and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Sydney Morning Herald’s Asher Moses reports.
The complaint involves accusations that Google refused to run the Australian Sex Party’s advertisements during the state by-election for the seat of Melbourne, despite making allowances for other parties who were in breach of the same policy.
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If you’re anything like one SMH commenter, who evidently never got past the schoolyard giggles and assumed it was because of the party’s rather tame name, it’s not what you’re thinking.
Google says it rejected the AdWords ads because they solicited donations when the website did not display a tax exempt status. The Sex Party, whose Google ads were rejected during the federal election in 2010 as well, says it is a pattern of unlawful interference with corrupt intent.
Whether or not corrupt intent was really at play, it is certainly a form of political interference. The fact that the party’s name includes the proper term for that thing that humans never, ever do should be irrelevant — it’s a longstanding party that, among many Australians, attracts less contempt than the suspiciously motivated Family First Party.
Though the complaint is aimed at Google, Facebook have behaved similarly, rejecting the ads because they supposedly promoted adult products or services.
But unless Google and Facebook know something about what the party really wants to do if it gets a rep elected, it is willingly providing a political advantage to one party over others including the Labor Party, the Greens, and the Family First Party, who both failed to comply with policies around the online display of each organization’s tax exempt status.
After doing what the other parties would not and rectifying the issue, placing the appropriate notices on the party site, the organization was still not able to have Google overturn the ruling — until it was reported that the party was considering suing Google.
Fiona Patten, the president of the Australian Sex Party, assumes the favoritism comes from the political situation where the support of the Green Party is the only thing keeping the Labor Party in place as the federal government during a hung parliament. The government is considering legislation that could have an impact on Google’s business, and favorable treatment towards both parties could be helpful to the company, she says.
The SMH’s Moses reports that Google is now investigating the situation and says that violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act were prohibited under Google’s code of conduct. Never mind that they are prohibited by, you know, the law.