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Google has been hit with a class action suit in California over its AdSense system.

Private detective David Almeida accuses the search giant of confusing users of its ad system. The online registration process for AdWords (adverts placed on Google's search engine) also registers advertisers for AdSense (adverts on third party sites), even if the relevant box is left blank .

Almeida wanted to pay for adverts on Google but not on third party sites.

Documents filed by Almeida's lawyers with the Northern District Court of California say: "Because there is no option to opt out of content ads during the AdWords registration process, advertisers reasonably believe that by leaving the content ad CPC [cost per click] input blank they can opt out of having their ads placed on the content network. Google, however, has charged and continues to charge those advertisers who leave the content ad CPC input blank for content ads on third party websites."

The case accuses Google of "redefining the universally understood meaning of an input box left blank".

Google told news wires it had yet to see the complaint. The documents are available here.

Almeida is seeking damages and his legal costs. ®

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