New York Sues Pop-up Ad Company

New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer is on the offensive once again, this time targeting Internet pop-up advertising company Direct Revenue LLC. The firm is being accused of illegally installing spyware on consumers' machines, and then causing the infected computers to show pop-up advertising through the program.

Direct Revenue reportedly bundled adware downloads such as VX2, Aurora and OfferOptimizer with games, browsers and other free software through third party distributors. Spitzer said these "drive-by downloads" were installed simply by visiting a malicious Web site, and enabled the company to monitor a user's Web activity and make pop-up ads appear.

Removing or disabling the software was not possible, Spitzer's investigators found.

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Spitzer has asked a state court to issue an injunction preventing the company from such practices. This is not the first time the attorney general has targeted unscrupulous Internet advertisers. Last June, Sptizer settled with Intermix for $7.5 million after the company installed spyware and adware without the consent of users. Intermix is the parent company of popular social networking site MySpace.

"These applications are deceptive and unfair to consumers, bad for businesses that rely on efficient networks to do their jobs, and bad for online retailers that need consumers to trust and enjoy their online experience," Spitzer said in a statement. "We will continue to side with consumers in their fight for control of their desktops."

Direct Revenue CEO Josh Abram is also specifically named in the lawsuit. Abram reportedly told a partner company in an e-mail that "we have a very stealthy version of our adware product," and "these will not be caught."

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