Two Democratic senators asked the Federal Trade Commission to pursue enforcement action against Google Tuesday saying the company is continuing to allow ads for the sale of facemasks amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said that despite Google announcing a ban on ads for protective facemasks last week, their staff were easily able to find Google ads for facemasks over the past week.
The senators said the ads contribute to the shortage of products essential to heath care workers on the frontlines of the United States’ coronavirus response.
The senators told the FTC, “our staffs were consistently served dozens of ads for protective masks and hand sanitizer,” often when browsing news stories about the coronavirus.
“These ads, from a range of different advertisers, were served by Google on websites for outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, CNBC, The Irish Times, and myriad local broadcasting affiliates,” the senators told the FTC.
“Google has made repeated representations to consumers that its policies prohibit ads for products such as protective masks. Yet the company appears not to be taking even rudimentary steps to enforce that policy,” they added.
Asked for comment on the letter, a Google spokesperson issued this statement to CNN: “We’re committed to protecting users and surfacing helpful, authoritative information as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve. Since January, we have blocked millions of ads that attempted to capitalize on coronavirus and have implemented a temporary ban on all medical face mask ads. We continue to take action to protect users and prevent these ads from serving.”
This story has been updated with comment from Google.