Court clears Google over 'misleading' advertisements

ONLINE advertisers could face charges of misleading or deceptive conduct, after a High Court decision cleared Google of any responsibility for ads placed on the international search engine.

On Wednesday the High Court released its decision on an appeal by Google against action brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

In the decision, the full bench found the online giant was not responsible, opening the door for further cases to be pursued against the companies creating the ads.

The ads in question were the "sponsored links" that come when users search similar terms, links displayed alongside the normal, organic results of a search.

Those links were created by advertisers to drive users to their products or websites, with the court finding that although the ads were misleading, "those representations were not made by Google".

A spokesman for Google said the company welcomed the decision.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said the commission would review the broader ramifications of the case, to consider any effects it might have on Australian consumer law.

He said the case was originally started to clarify the law relating to advertising practices in the internet age.