Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 188.8.131.52
Here is the notice:
<paraphrase by moderator>
I am writing to inform you that your Google AdSense account has been
suspended. We are unable to accept accounts where the publisher resides in one of the countries on the United States Office Foreign Assets Control sanction list.
As your country of residence appears to be on this list, we have disabled your account and ads will no longer be served. We are required to withhold outstanding payments from you, and will be refunding advertisers for the clicks accrued on your publisher account.
We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause you.
The Google Team
[edited by: Jenstar at 2:10 pm (utc) on July 23, 2004]
[edit reason] Paraphrased email quote [/edit]
Then again my own government says its illegal for me to use any crypto product of any sort even 32 bit even on my own machine unless I first give them a copy of the key and the process ..technically here we are all in breach if we dont give them our logon passwwords to WebmasterWorld aswell ( nope I'm not joking ..go read up ) ..
Where am I in this "haven of liberty"? ...France ...
Welcome to the new U.S. With the Patriot Act, Dept. of Homeland Security rules, etc. there are all kinds of new restrictions on business with "evil" countries.
yowza ... You hit it right on the head. This is the US at its post-9/11 paranoia. International dealings of US businesses are now carefully checked - and everyone must kowtow the line or risk the punishment of Uncle Sam. This is just the reality of the world we are living in right now. It is not about proof of Google turning "evil"; it is about compliance with the law. Pure and simple.
Of course, the reality is that it depends on the company and their level of compliance. I'm sure there are many US companies that are not even aware of the sanction list, and continue to do business with nationals of these countries. Some will do so out of ignorance, until Uncle Sam jolts them to the rules. Ignorance, of course, is not an excuse for breaking the law.
Google, at this point with the forthcoming IPO, needs to make sure that they are "aboveboard and clean" with respect to the laws. They may have initially erred by accepting nationals of countries in the sanction list (or at least the gray areas like Serbia & Montenegro), but their current efforts suggest that they are making amends and would rather err on the safe side of Uncle Sam.
You may not agree with the law
This isn't about agreeing or disagreeing with the law. Read the document - the sanctions are applicable to:
persons who threaten international stabilization efforts in the western Balkans
the sanctions are NOT applicable to Serbia and Montenegro.
What the Washington administration has done is to take a legal document which applies trade penalties to criminals and then proceeded to criminalise the entire population of Serbia and Montenegro by adopting a stance of "guilty until proven innocent".
It then threatens Google with severe penalties if Google refuses to go along with the "guilty until proven innocent" line.
So let's change the statement: "You may not agree with the government position ..."
My statement is directed to those who do not consider the governmental regulations that a company such as Google faces, and simply jumps to the conclusion that Google's stance is a manifestation of their "turning evil." A company does not exist in a vacuum, and their decisions can and may be affected by factors beyond their control -- such as government regulations.
In this case, G is not only assuming people like tebrino and Zola are guilty until proven innocent and refusing to do business with them- they are also withholding money that they earned. Adding injury to insult, if you will.
Not to say G _is_ evil, but in this case their behaviour does not reflect their stated ideals. Perhaps they are quietly working with other companies to make the requirements fairer? Perhaps they will pay as soon as this unfortunate issue can be cleared up?
A lot of what has been said here has been pure speculation, and perhaps with the gag order before their IPO they can't respond to what could be libel(?). Like I said earlier, I'm not too impressed with their behaviour, and would like to see a rationale. Until then I'm keeping an open-mind.
Zola: you won't see that money for a little while, and most probably not until after the IPO or a change of power in Washington. In the meantime, don't merely change your address, but create a new account: if Google is under legal pressure, they can't say they did not know you were Serbian if they simply changed your address.
The fines of "$500,000 per violation for an organization" and $250,000 per violation for an individual", plus civil penalties of "$11,000 per violation" may be too great of a risk for the thousands or less income that G will earn per publisher from those countries. It can simply be a cost benefit decision.
As stated above, G may have decided to err on the safe side -- with the government -- and avoid any complications.
Yes, or it may have nothing to do with Google - Google may have been leant on.
True, the sanction does not specifically state Serbia & Montenegro, but they may have decided that it is easier to close their program to those countries than put in the effort of determining who among the participating publishers are "clean" and "those who threaten international stabilization..."
That's the whole point, though, isn't it? They shouldn't have to investigate. Unless the government can come to them with proof beyond reasonable doubt that certain publishers are guilty of threatening stability, the government has no right to force Google to stop trading or to assume guilt before innocence.
And yet that is exactly what appears to be happening.
And yet that is exactly what appears to be happening.
No ronin, that is not what is happening.
The sanctions are clear. You cannot do business with "dangerous people" in those areas.
Google has chosen not to do business with any people in those areas, presumably because it takes an amount of time and money to investigate people from those areas that is more than they figure to make from companies in those areas.
It is a business decision. There is no conspiracy and no government influence. Can we please put our foil hats away now?
The government has no right to force Google to stop trading or to assume guilt before innocence.
That's the ideal situation. Except we are NOT living in an ideal situation. We are living in the world of the patriot act, homeland defense, post-9/11 scenario etc.
If you are a company about to go public, the last thing you want to do right now is to clash with the Government -- for a handful of publishers that can give you a few thousands in revenue. It is just not worth it.
If the US government say an area is on a list of sanctioned areas (read: evil), through canceling payments and charges all the way through the system, they come out as activly trying to undo their "evil."
While you may not get paid for AdSense money "owed to you", the Advertisers are receiving credits for any ads credited to you. They are trying to "undo" this as much as they can, without profiting off of it.
Are you fairly in an area targeted by this? I don't know. Looking from the other side, I can see how Google can (honestly) view this way of dealing with the problem as doing no evil. I know it seems to you like you got screwed, I don't deny that at all.
I won't place myself on either side of this issue, but can at least see where they are coming from. Seems like a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for them.
Western Balkans = Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. So Serbia and Montenegro are included.
Sanction against criminal elements = how would Google know if Publisher X is defined in the sanction as a "criminal element"?
The point is - Google has made a business decision that it is easier to comply with the sanctions than go through all the trouble to make sure their publisher base does not violate the sanctions.
Looking at the numbers:
- $500,000 per violation for an organization"
- $250,000 per violation for an individual"
- civil penalties of "$11,000 per violation"
Now calculate how much Publisher A can bring to Google:
If $1,000/month x 12 months = $12,000
If you have 100 publishers from those countries = $120,000
LESS: cost of investigating whether the 100 publishers are not covered in the sanction
Just doesn't add up. Costs outweighs the risks
And I think we agree that the way the situation stands Google doesn't have a choice in what it does.
The entire population of a country which does not 'officially' have sanctions on it is effectively criminalised without redress because the government makes it a company responsibility to investigate who is and who isn't a criminal - which is a responsibility which cannot be justified financially.
If it walks like a sanction on Serbia and Montenegro and it smells like a sanction on Serbia and Montenegro, it is a sanction on Serbia and Montenegro.
This link points to the complete list of individuals and companies to whom the sanctions apply
So there is no way that Google has to cancel all accounts of publishers from the Western Balkans area.
The second, probably more important thing, is that the order has been issued in June 2001, and the suspended account has been created in January 2004. So Google knew about the sanctions, and yet accepted me as a publisher. You can still create a publisher account if you are from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia or any country from the Western Balkans area.
At the moment when the account was cancelled, Google was due to pay me earnings of 53 days.
A couple of minor points: The fact that the sanctions list has existed since 2001 isn't relevant--Google may have just decided recently that they are going to stop doing business with anyone from "The Balkans."
I also don't buy the argument that Google is obliged to pay out earnings made up to the point they decided to boot someone. No, they'd be just as liable for doing that as if they continued with the relationship, IF they happened to be working with a sanctioned individual. What they should be doing is refunding those earnings to the advertisers--and for all we know, they are doing that.
New policies are being created that might catch a few of the criminals, but also take away the rights of the majority of law-abiding citizens (ie. guilty until proven innocent).
Unfortunately, Google has to do the best thing for its business. This is not Google's fault. This is not the fault of %99.9 of the population of Serbia and Montenegro. This is the fault of bad U.S. policy. It is bad for business and it is bad for international relations.
[edited by: yowza at 8:43 pm (utc) on July 26, 2004]
If I were in such a situation, I would change domain names and find family or friends that are abroad to register with Google and forward me the money.
Sounds like a tactic straight from the terrprists 101 handbook.
Look, I sympathize witht he topic starter, as anyone who is anticipating a nice check only to have it taken away would be similarly dissappointed.
As fo what Google "Can or Can not" do...let's keep in mind that as a business, they have the right to refuse service to anyone they please (within the law, of course).
I run an affiliate program for a growing web business, and I receive dozen of applications from overseas affiliates everyday. With the exception of a half dozen european countries (and canada), we've stopped accepting applications from most of them. Why? Because 9 out of 10 applications from the coutries now on our "banned" list were fraudulant, or produced attempted fruadulant sales (it still amazes me that a "fraudster" will attempt thousands in sales using stolen credit cards on the last day of the month in hopes that we might somehow "miss" it ;-)
It is unfortunate that there are good people living in "bad" countries...but there you are. In today's business environment, it's sometimes necessary to take the path of least resistance and do what's (and most cost effective) for the company as a whole.
Personally, I think Google should only accept publishers from countries in which they have a language/geographic specific presence.