Search engines putting babies’ health at risk by providing links to sites selling fake and potentially harmful products | Illicit Trade
Search engines such as Google are putting consumers’ health and safety at risk by returning links to web pages that offer counterfeit products aimed at children and fake white goods, a new report from brand protection company Incopro has revealed.
The study found that up to 60% of product results returned by search engines are for websites and other online locations that offer counterfeit products or items that in some way infringe intellectual property rights.
Most worryingly, Incopro found that a third of results returned during searches for “Comotomo teether” toys for babies contained products that could be potentially harmful.
Elsewhere, the investigation revealed that 60% of Google’s first-page results for antibiotic Bactrim linked to websites that are likely to be operating outside of the law, and that searches for white goods and accessories such as refrigerator filters often direct consumers to websites offering bogus products.
According to the report, 47.3% of traffic to websites that offer counterfeit products for sale comes from internet searches for a specific brand or particular product.
Incopro alleges that Google routinely refuses to take action when it is informed that its search results are providing links to websites that sell counterfeit goods, noting that the search giant does not de-index specific pages, URLs or websites under such circumstances.
Incopro is calling for search engines to take greater action when they are informed of websites offering fake products appearing in their inquiry results, suggesting that new legislation to force them to do so might be required if they refuse to comply.
The company notes that a loophole in the law in some countries means search engines are not required to take action against counterfeiters in the same way that other tech giants including Amazon and Facebook must.
Simon Baggs, co-founder, and CEO at Incopro, commented:
“Consumers are at risk of buying counterfeit and possibly harmful products, as a result of clicking through results generated by search engines they trust.
“At best, these products will be poor quality or below-standard; at worst, they put consumers at risk of harm, particularly when buying pharmaceuticals or safety goods.
“It is high time search engines played their part in putting a stop to the fakers, rather than encouraging them to proliferate through inaction.”
Read the article in Illicit Trade here
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