This almost seems too strange to be true, though no one is denying it (or, fixing it). After rifling through the laundry list of major corporations found advertising on illegal music download and cyberlocker sites, the Wall Street Journal stumbled upon an interesting name: the US Forestry Service.
That is, the taxpayer-funded agency that overseas US forests and grasslands, and a division of the US Department of Agriculture. Welcome to the intricately-complex web of online advertising, which is suddenly shifting a portion of American tax dollars towards pirate sites, cyberlockers, and illegally-uploaded content.
“NBC’s special [anti-piracy] unit said it recently discovered advertisements for Blockbuster and the U.S. Forest Service on cyberlockers that had trafficked in its content without permission. The ads had been supplied through Google’s AdSense, which places ads related to keywords. The Ad Council, which handles ads for the Forest Service, said any time its ads ran on questionable sites, it requested that they be taken down immediately.”
Wall Street Journal, March 3rd.
The US Forest Service received a budget of roughly $4.85 billion in 2012. We’re awaiting response from the government agency.