Adware nuisance zapped


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001
Always great to hear about a pop-up merchant being hung out to dry!


$3 million "settlement" should persuade the company to ask in future

Computer users infuriated by uninvited advertising (known generically as adware) appearing on their screens will be pleased to hear that yet another purveyor of this daily irritant has been stopped in its tracks by US government action.

The Federal Trade Commission led an investigation into the adware activities of US-based Zango, an online advertising company that is to pay $3 million to the US government in a settlement for "unfairly and deceptively" downloading its software onto people's computers without their permission.

The firm also agreed going forward to seek consent before installing software and to make removing it easier.

US-based Zango, the FTC said, installed adware more than 70 million times, causing 6.9 billion of the hated and ubiquitous pop-up ads.

Zango's CEO Keith Smith said he "deeply regretted" any negative impact. He added: "As we've acknowledged, we relied too heavily on our affiliates to enforce our consumer notice and consent policies. Unfortunately, this allowed deceptive third parties to exploit our system to the detriment of consumers, our advertisers and our publishing partners. We deeply regret and apologize for the resulting negative impact."

Lydia Parnes of the FTC probably spoke for all users when she said that consumers' computers belong to them, and they shouldn't have to accept any content they don't want. "If consumers choose to receive pop-up ads, so be it. But it violates federal law to secretly install software that forces consumers to get pop-ups that disrupt their computer use."

Zango, previously called 180 Solutions, is based in Washington and was described by the FTC as one of the world's largest distributors of adware - programs that, once installed, can bombard people's computers with adverts.

The FTC alleged the company used third parties to install its adware onto consumer's computers, hiding the programs in games, screensavers or browser updates being offered for free.

Once installed, the programs monitored internet use and offered pop-up ads based on the sites that had previously been visited.

The FTC claimed Zango deliberately made it difficult to identify, locate and remove the adware once it was installed.

The result, the FTC added, was that millions of consumers were receiving adverts without knowing why, and were being watched without their knowledge or consent without a means of stopping it.

In a statement, Zango said third-party affiliates were to blame for the problems and stated it had been working in accordance with the FTC's standards since January 2006.