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Group says Google shopping ads fuel ivory trade

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March 4, 2013 11:01 PM EST | AP

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BANGKOK — A conservation group claims that Google has something in common with illicit ivory traders in China and Thailand: It says the Internet search giant is helping to fuel a dramatic surge in ivory demand.

The Environmental Investigation Agency, a conservation advocacy group, says there are some 10,000 ads on Google Japan's shopping site that promote the sale of ivory.

About 80 percent of the ads are for "hanko," small wooden stamps widely used in Japan to affix signature seals to official documents. The stamps are legal and typically inlaid with ivory lettering.

Google prohibits the promotion of ivory sales on its shopping sites.

A spokesperson for Google Japan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.