RealTime IT News

Google Sued Over Click Fraud, Again

$90 million isn't enough.

Not for lead plaintiff Joseph Kinney and the other Internet advertisers who this week had their lawyers sue to block the $90 million settlement Google reached in a click fraud   case in March.

The suit isn't about the money, said Kinney, proprietor of the informational Web site SafeSpaces.com.

"The issue is not merely one of economics to me," Kinney told internetnews.com, "I just think that companies like Google need to be accountable to the people that pay them and to the public. This [current] settlement is not going to achieve those goals."

In February 2005, Lane's Gifts and Collectibles and Caulfield Investigations filed a suit in Arkansas against Google, Yahoo, Time Warner and its America Online and its Netscape divisions.

In March, Google settled with the advertisers, agreeing to offer credits for all invalid clicks. Those credits could then be used to purchase new advertising with Google.

When Kinney's lawyer called to see if he was amenable to the proposed settlement, Kinney said no.

"I just told him that I was totally opposed to the settlement as it was tendered to me and I’d rather get nothing than participate in something that was an absolute travesty and joke," Kinney said.

In a statement responding to attempt to block the settlement Google said, "We have reached a fair settlement which has preliminary approval from the court."

But Kinney thinks that Arkansas court and its judge was part of the problem.

"The other thing that bothered me was the fact that they were trying to settle this in an Arkansas courtroom," Kinney said

"That place would be least likely and least reasonable for a settlement of this scope and magnitude," Kinney said, "I'm sure this judge doesn't have the experience or the intellectual resources necessary to evaluate what's going on here."

"I'm not bad mouthing the judge mind you, but Arkansas is just not the place to do this."

When Google reached its settlement in March, Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan said on his blog that a $90 million settlement was "cheap" for Google.

"But I want to be real clear," Kinney said, "The issue to me is not money. The issue to me is the bigger issue of how the Internet and firms like Google are going to be dealt with."

Google needs dealing with not just because of click fraud issues, Kinney said.

He explained his animus.

"At Google they dislike people that pay them so much," he said. "They're too busy counting their money and cashing in on their stock options and all the rest of the stuff."

Kinney said he lost money because of click fraud behavior generally perpetrated by competitors seeking to deplete a business's advertising budget. But he admits Safespaces is not a business site.

"Our site is primarily an information site. It's not a business site. It didn't have anything to do with the way I make my living," he said.

Still, Kinney hopes Google gets taught a lesson.

"I am a person has been a long time user of the Internet," Kinney said, "I see the Internet essentially as a public utility. I totally hope that Google and other similar entities get reigned in."

"That's what this is really about."