AGCOM fines Google for failing on its ‘Decree duties’

AGCOM, Italy’s federal communications and media agency, has fined ‘Google Ireland Limited’ €100,000 for violating the advertising conditions and responsibilities of Italy’s ‘Dignity Decree’.

The agency’s fine follows an inquiry launched last month which looked into Google Ads’ services promoting gambling-related adverts through its Italian search engine and display advertising network.

In its notice, AGCOM stated that Google had been penalised for not verifying ad-content within which it had received pre-payments of campaigns featuring clear links of gambling-related ads such as sublime-casino.com– a text link redirecting traffic to a holding page promoting unlicensed gambling operators.

Google had previously appealed to AGCOM, stating that its search engine and ad network should be recognised as ‘hosting services’ rather than advertising platforms, in which the responsibility of content fell on individual advertisers as expressed by the firm’s advertiser terms and conditions.   

AGCOM denied Google’s appeal, clarifying that its search engine could not be treated as a ‘specific case’ as all Italian licensed media owners had been forced to uphold the conditions of Article 9 of the Dignity Decree which bans the promotion of gambling adverts across all mediums.   

In its judgement, AGCOM refuted that Google Ads functioned as a ‘hosting service’, underlining that the description was ‘too simplistic’ as its search engine and display network had a reach and engagement capacity that could match any traditional medium. 

The judgement will likely see AGCOM update the Dignity Decree’s terms and policies for digital advertisers abiding by laws prohibiting all forms of gambling advertising.

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