Google Lets Click Fraudster Off Scott-Free?

    December 7, 2006

BusinessWeek writes about a case where the U.S. Attorney had a slam-dunk case against a developer of click fraud software, yet they dismissed the charges.

In spite of the fact that they had the guy on tape in the Google offices, threatening to release click fraud software unless Google paid him $150,000, he is a free man. The possible reason: Google didn’t give them enough evidence about how click fraud works, afraid of protecting trade secrets.

    By all appearances, Google faced a difficult dilemma. It could risk divulging information about its approach to click fraud and help make a case against Bradley, who faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, according to a Justice Dept. press release. Or, Google could keep its efforts to detect and quantify click fraud a secret, which could allow Bradley to go unpunished.

    Google appears to have taken the latter path, which may have several consequences. Would-be fraudsters still have to guess at how Google sifts out bogus clicks. But allowing an alleged scheme to brazenly conduct click fraud to go unpunished could embolden other fraudsters. In addition, it could undermine the confidence of advertisers, who foot the bill for fraudulent clicks.

No matter what Google stood to lose (and it should have found ways to protect anything actually sensitive), the image of a click fraud software developer behind bars would have been an incredible deterrent. This was a real mistake.
(via Search Engine Land)



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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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