Why do Google keep returning confiscated websites?

Usually when the police confiscate something of yours – it usually isn’t available for you or the general public to see, touch, use or access, right? So why does Google continue to return websites that has been seized by US immigration and Customs Enforcement?

From an ethical perspective, only the most naive of searcher would presume that Google would only return legitimate results for whatever they search for. For example, would a search for “free music downloads” only return websites that allow you to access unsigned bands that are happy to get their sound out there in the hope of picking up a record deal? Of course not – this has always been the way, whether you agree with the morality of it, however piracy is a massive problem online – so should Google be taking a stronger approach towards these illegal services?

I’ve come across four websites in recent weeks that are still being returned on page one for a number of search terms that display the following image on the homepage:

US Immigration and Customs

Now, we always hear Matt Cutts and co banging on about the ‘searchers journey’ and how Google are dedicated to improving their results even though the sector I am monitoring is rife with websites that have been seized by US immigration and customs (after serving up illegal content for years). So do these websites offer anything to searchers? Now, of course nothing – five weeks ago they served up illegal material that allowed the searcher to download straight to their home computer. It is hard to argue, but that is great link bait – but then again doing something illegal usually gets a little more attention!

So what is your take on it :

  • Do Google need to act on this?
  • Or does the responsibility lie elsewhere?
  • Is piracy that big an issue online?