Accused by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) of promoting online sales of elephant and whale products, Google says that it moves quickly to remove material advertising ivory and products that contain it, despite what the EIA has claimed.
Google said it does not have any policies that allow the selling or advertising of products obtained from endangered animals and acts to remove them as soon as it becomes aware of them.
"Ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google," said a Google spokesperson. "As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them."
The EIA said that it wrote to Google CEO Larry Page on February 22 and asked him to remove 1,400 ads that promote whale products and 10,000 ads that promote elephant ivory products on Google Japan's Shopping website. It said that the firm had not responded.
"Google has laudable policies that prohibit the promotion of endangered wildlife products including whale, dolphin and elephant ivory, but sadly these are not being enforced and that's devastating for whales and elephants," said EIA president Allan Thornton. "While elephants are being mass slaughtered across Africa to produce ivory trinkets, it is shocking to discover that Google, with the massive resources it has at its disposal, is failing to enforce its own policies designed to help protect endangered elephants and whales."
Google's various policies, covering endangered species, restricted products and advertising, are clear on what is involved, and the firm offers a number of strikes policy that can see offending merchants and advertisers being kicked off its services. But the EIA wants more.
"Google Japan Shopping is promoting the sale of a huge variety of products from threatened and endangered whale species," said Clare Perry, head of EIA's Cetaceans Campaign. "These range from endangered fin whales killed in Iceland to products taken from animals killed off Taij. Google must immediately eliminate all such trade."