- A Programmer writes a web browser Extension to download ads but not display them.
- The effect is that Sites accessed through this extension get to charge Advertisers for the ad being served, even though it will not be seen.
- The Sites don't know whether the extension is being used.
- The Extension User may not know that the Extension is resulting in the Advertiser being charged for undisplayed ads.
Who, if anyone, is committing fraud?
I asked this question in the webmasters stack exchange. But perhaps I was premature in asking "can I?" before asking "should I?" as I got negative feedback.
Basic question: Is it fraudulent to download ads but hide them before the user can see them, and still allow the content-creator to receive money from the ad server?
My research on an existing extension called AdBlock suggests it is legal basically because nobody controls how you view files you've downloaded onto your computer. In addition, there is no contract between content-creators and users that to access the content you must also consume ads.
It is legal for you to watch TV, and when an ad comes on, you leave to go get a snack. The TV channel still receives ad revenue, and they can't coerce you to audibly/visibly experience the ad. Your TV set still receives it from your cable company or whatever, but you don't have to watch it.
From observation #2: Since advertisers cannot control how you consume their ads, and there is no contract binding content and ads, blocking ads and passing them off as read or downloaded should be legal.
I'm not a lawyer, but I've read that just because someone is losing money does not mean a law is being broken.
Advertising impressions are not technically made, therefore content-creators are unfairly receiving money.
Users of such an extension are stepping out of AdBlock's safety zone since sending back a read-receipt is like multiple clicking on ads to increase your own impression rate.
I'm primarily asking for the US, but interested in other jurisdictions.