Is Google breaking the law by making money off certain YouTube videos? Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt think so, and the two have sent a letter to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) demanding the Mountain View, Calif.-based company remove videos on its subsidiary YouTube that depict illegal activities like buying drugs without a prescription and forging passports.
“Not only are the activities depicted or promoted in the above-described videos illegal in and of themselves, but in the case of document forgery, the how-to guide could be instrumental in the commission of other crimes ranging from underage drinking to acts of terrorism,” the two attorneys general wrote in the letter.
The letter acknowledges that Google is an open platform that can’t be censored, but the attorneys general were particularly bothered that Google is turning a profit from these videos. They were also concerned that YouTube is a platform particularly popular with children and teens.
According to Nebraska Watchdog, the issue of Google ads running alongside YouTube videos was discussed at a summer meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General last week in Boston. Google ads were shown running next to videos instructing others how to buy drugs, how to download pirated content and promotional videos for sex clubs.
In the early 2000s, Google's archrival Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) came under fire for hosting chat rooms that allowed sexual predators to prey on children. Yahoo paid a settlement and has worked with authorities since then, according to Bruning.
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Bruning wants Google to remove the content, stop profiting from it, and do more to prevent illicit content from being uploaded in the future. Google has not commented, and lawyers argue that the company is dragging its feet.