Counterfeit goods, identity theft, bogus charities—these are just a few of the online fakes and scams consumers face every day. Not only are these practices dangerous and illegal, they cost legitimate businesses and regular citizens billions of dollars a year, and often target the most vulnerable, like seniors and children.
Online criminals steal personal, business, and creative content and use it to make billions illegally through online advertisements and subscriptions. Illegal content hurts legitimate users in multiple ways. Individuals who use the Internet to create and share images, videos, designs, and blogs and, in many cases, even run small businesses can lose their intellectual property and even their livelihood—even when their material is copyrighted. And consumers may find that “free” content is actually a criminals’ way of planting malware, stealing identities, and even supporting much worse types of criminal activity, like drug trafficking and terrorism.
Accessing illegal prescription drugs and steroids online is a growing epidemic in America, especially among teenagers. Internet companies like Google enable these activities by promoting websites that sell these drugs without a prescription, and in many cases they even profit off the advertising associated with the sites that traffic in these drugs.
A safe Internet is a free Internet. Like any neighborhood or community, it needs thoughtful, moderate, and properly enforced rules that make it possible for good citizens to flourish. We believe individuals and organizations that violate those rules and engage in practices that put other Internet users at risk should be held accountable for their actions online, just as they are offline.