FC: Google refuses business from gun, knife, bulk food advertisers

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 09:10:39 PST

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    [Google confirmed to me that the facts as laid out below are true. They 
    understand that the Bowman's Brigade business does NOT sell firearms, but 
    they feel that the bulk food, survival gear, and replacement parts (like 
    weapon sights) are close enough to firearm sales to, ah, trigger that 
    prohibition. --Declan]
    Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 16:12:29 -0500
    From: Todd <tmzat_private>
    To: Declan McCullagh <declanat_private>
    Subject: Google Refuses Business from Gun and Knife Advertisers
    Hash: SHA1
    Hi Declan,
    First off, thanks for all the excellent reporting over the years, as well as
    the politech list.  I've enjoyed both immensely.
    Here's an interesting story about a problem that Bowman's Brigade (which
    appears to sell hunting/survival supplies) reports having with Google and
    their adwords program.  Obviously, it's Google's prerogative to allow any
    ads they want, but it's also good to know about these policies when using
    their service.  I have not yet verified this by contacting Google at their
    adwords-supportat_private address, but I plan to do so momentarily.
    I've looked at the "Terms and Conditions" page for any reference to what
    might be prohibited.  All I see is:
         "4. Spam and Other Prohibited Uses. You agree not to use the
         Google Web Site or Partner Sites to impression or click SPAM
         the Advertisements nor to advertise substances, services,
         products or materials that are illegal or violate Google's
         Ad Policy, as it may be revised from time to time. Ads that
         link to websites with substantially similar content may not
         be targeted to same sets of keywords. Further you shall not
         submit Advertisements where you are an affiliate partner to
         the web site targeted in such Advertisement, and you do not
         provide content at such web site that is substantially
         reflective of the Target(s) being used through the AdWords
         Program. Violation of the above policies will have strict
         negative consequences. We will immediately and permanently
         terminate your AdWords Program account. In addition, you may
         be subject to state and federal penalties and other legal
         consequences under applicable law and Google may, at its
         option, assist appropriate authorities in imposing such
         penalties or take legal action against you."
    There's no mention of weapons, guns, knives, or firearms.  They do reference
    "Google's Ad Policy" but there is no link to this document and a quick
    search, on Google, of course, produced nothing relevant.
    The Bowman's Brigade side of the story is at the following URL, part of
    which is included for your convenience.
         On March 7, 2002 Bowman's Brigade placed the following three
         paid ads on the Google search engine.  They are listed in
         exact order with the responses from Google
         March 8, 2002 - Their Response to this ad: We are not able
         to run the following ad(s) in Ad Group #1, of Campaign #1
         you have created using the Google AdWords Select Advertising
         Thank you for advertising on Google. At this time, we are
         not running ads for sites that sell pistol barrels or gun
         parts. We review ads on a case-by-case basis and reserve the
         right to not run certain ads, or certain categories of ads.
         Due to our current ads policy, we are unable to run your ad
         on Google.
         Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and
         therefore offers broad access to content across the web
         without censoring results. At the same time, we reserve the
         right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the
         advertising we accept on our site, as noted in our
         advertising terms and conditions. Please note that the
         decisions we make concerning advertising in no way affect
         the search results we deliver. We will continue to show
         search results for equipment and supplies and related
         products.  Please feel free to email us at
         adwords-supportat_private if you have further questions or
         The Google AdWords Team
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