Hijacking Search Engines Through ISPs

MoneyReese Richman LLP, a law firm based in New York City, brought about a lawsuit that accuses several Internet service providers of affiliate fraud. The claim is that these well-known Internet service providers hijacked consumer search results to get information on affiliate traffic and income.

Reese Richman himself brought about the lawsuit, which gives much more detailed information about the case. For the layman, an unfavored company by the name of Pax Fire patented and developed a shameful technology that allows Internet service providers to fully control what consumers see when they type in simple Internet searches. In the end, the related sites presented to web searchers turned out to actually be affiliate links with small amounts of money being kicked back up to several Internet service providers.

Lawsuit Details

Though the scheme was meticulously planned, the lawsuit’s Internet service providers eventually attracted too much attention to themselves. The lawsuit claimed that placing affiliate links in search results violates what web users’ expect of the Internet. Within this is the idea that once a consumer has certain expectations, their misleading constitutes fraud and conspiracy. The lawsuit also mentions that Pax Fire’s program violates several legal statutes.

For search providers, however, it seems that the Internet service provider redirecting isn’t that big of a deal. Google, for example, has come up with a brilliant and simple way to deter this sort of fraud:They speak to the Internet service providers directly, tell them to stop, and threaten them with a legal tango. However, Yahoo and Bing haven’t done much to prevent this type of fraud. Both are still susceptible to this misdirection.

What Does This Mean for SEO?

Nothing much has changed, except for those that were making use of Pax Fire’s illicit program. Though search engines may beef up their security with regards to page rankings, the SEO community has experienced it before. However, those involved in SEO should be wary of the amount of affiliate links on their website – too many could set off warning flags from search engines and cause them to be blacklisted.

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