Google, online search and consumer confusion in Australia

Scardamaglia, Amanda and Daly, Angela (2016) Google, online search and consumer confusion in Australia. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 24 (3). pp. 203-228. ISSN 0967-0769 (

[thumbnail of Scardamaglia-Daly-IJLIT-2016-Google-online-search-and-consumer-confusion-in-Australia]
Text. Filename: Scardamaglia_Daly_IJLIT_2016_Google_online_search_and_consumer_confusion_in_Australia.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (917kB)| Preview


The legality of the operation of Google's search engine, and its liability as an Internet intermediary, has been tested in various jurisdictions on various grounds. In Australia, there was an ultimately unsuccessful case against Google under the 'Australian Consumer Law' relating to how it presents results from its search engine. Despite this failed claim, several complex issues were not adequately addressed in the case including whether Google sufficiently distinguishes between the different parts of its search results page, so as not to mislead or deceive consumers. This article seeks to address this question of consumer confusion by drawing on empirical survey evidence of Australian consumers' understanding of Google's search results layout. This evidence, the first of its kind in Australia, indicates some level of consumer confusion. The implications for future legal proceedings against Google in Australia and in other jurisdictions are discussed.


Scardamaglia, Amanda and Daly, Angela ORCID logoORCID:;