Google Ireland Fined By AGCOM For ‘Dignity Decree’ Breach

‘Google Ireland Limited’ was fined EUR 100,000 by AGCOM, Italy’s federal communications and media body, for breaching the advertising requirements and obligations of the ‘Dignity Decree’ of Italy.

The agency’s fine follows an investigation launched last month that looked at Google Ads’ offerings through its Italian search engine and display advertising network supporting gambling-related advertisements.

In its notice, AGCOM claimed that Google had been penalised for not checking ad-content within which it had received pre-payments of campaigns containing explicit gambling-related advertisement links such as ‘sublime-casino.com-a text link that redirects traffic to a holding page that promotes unlicensed gambling operators.

Google had previously appealed to AGCOM, arguing that its search engine and ad network should be known as ‘hosting services’ rather than advertisement networks, where as expressed by the terms and conditions of the company’s advertiser, the responsibility for content falls on individual advertisers.

Google’s appeal was rejected by AGCOM, which explained that its search engine could not be viewed as a ‘relevant event’ because all Italian licenced media owners were obliged to comply with the terms of Article 9 of the Dignity Decree banning the promotion of gambling ads in all media.

AGCOM denied in its judgement that Google Ads operated as a ‘hosting service’ and emphasised that the description was ‘too simplistic’ because its search engine and display network had a potential for scope and interaction that could equal any conventional medium.

The judgement will likely see AGCOM amend the terms and policies of the Integrity Decree for digital advertisers who adhere to laws banning all types of advertisement for gambling.