Accusations of abetting piracy have plagued Google for years, whether because of illicit Android apps, search results for "free movie," or ads placed on sites that may distribute copyrighted content without permission. In response, it's done things like downrank pirate sites, but The Telegraph thinks that stricter action is on the way. "Google is in discussions with payment companies including Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal to put illegal download websites out of existence by cutting off their funding," Katherine Rushton reports. "The plans, still in discussion, would also block funding to websites that do not respond to legal challenges, for example because they are offshore."
Partnering with payment companies to block funding would be a direct and aggressive move for Google — but is it actually happening? Sources tell us that Google has no such plans in the works. Instead, it's holding to its current practice of informally urging companies to squeeze funding. In a July 2012 blog post, UK policy manager Theo Bertram suggested that payment processors, credit card companies, and advertisers work together on voluntary frameworks that would cut off payment or ad placement to sites that infringe copyright.
"Governments should construct coalitions with reputable advertising networks, payment processors, and rightsholders."
"Instead of imposing blocks or filters that might damage fundamental freedoms, governments should construct coalitions with reputable advertising networks, payment processors, and rightsholders," he wrote at that time. If governments and companies set up these frameworks, the results could be dramatic — and depending on how they're set up, they could form a repressive politically- or commercially-motivated blockade like the one employed against WikiLeaks in years past. But for the time being, Google at least appears to be steering clear of direct action.