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Spitzer Sues Intermix Media for Bundling Spyware 272

CousinLarry writes "Attorney General and corporate watchdog Eliot Spitzer has filed suit against Intermix Software, alleging that the company deviously and deceptively bundles spyware with its 'free' screensaver and game products. 'Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance,' Spitzer said. 'These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.'"
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Spitzer Sues Intermix Media for Bundling Spyware

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  • At last... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:54PM (#12379574)
    We really need these kinds of guys in our government. They honestly go after company deviousness, and are willing to prosecute them (and without being paid off).
    • Re:At last... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nevo ( 690791 )
      While in this case, I'm all for Spitzer, he has at times seemed a little overzealous in his prosecutions.

      I wonder if we'll see him seeking higher office in the near future.
    • Re:At last... (Score:5, Informative)

      by deglr6328 ( 150198 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:39PM (#12379830)
      Seriously [cnn.com]. Almost every [cnn.com] time I see [thestreet.com] Mr. Spitzer's name [nydailynews.com] in the media I like what I see. He is what I view as the embodiment of what it means to be a TRUE American. A genuine good-guy who isn't afraid to stand up for what's right and fuck everyone who doesn't like it. It's pretty sad, but I've never voted for someone who I really wanted to see in some particular office, just mostly against the person who I wanted to prevent from attaining that office. If Spitzer runs for Gov. of NY it would be the first time I would be voting for someone who I really thought completely deserved to win.
      • Re:At last... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Agree. Some people say that guys like Spitzer (market timing in mutual funds, Dick Grasso's golden parachute) and McCain (steroids in MLB) are grandstanding, but these are issues that ordinary citizens care about.

        Unfortunately our issue, patent reform, doesn't really have a villain that politicians like to knock around in front of the cameras. Companies like Forgent, Eolas and the Myrvhold outfit are just taking advantage of the creaky system currently in place.

      • Re:At last... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Darkman, Walkin Dude ( 707389 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:37PM (#12380127) Homepage

        what it means to be a TRUE American.

        Surely you mean, a true human being...

    • 1x(Mark Spitzer) = 100x(John Ashcroft)

      Spitzer will likely run for NY governer next, but as far as I am concerned, he could run for the US Presidency. I know I would vote for him. And as president, it might not take too terribly long before the "current regime in power" would be sitting in the ICC docket at the Hague. (One can dream, right?)
      • 1x(Mark Spitzer)

        I know I would vote for him.

        So if you vote for Mark Spitzer, that will reduce Elliot Spitzer's chances of winning anything, won't it?

    • by EtherAlchemist ( 789180 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:45PM (#12380180)

      I seriously hope this is the first in a long series of lawsuits against companies that pull this kind of shit. FunWebProducts should be the next on the list, I've heard more complaints against their crapware than nearly anything else.

      <inflamatory sentence> FunWebProducts, if you don't know, are the makers of those Smiley Central things you see ads for plastered on every site using bottom feeder ad-sales services.</inflamatory sentence>

      Aside from being spyware and hard for the average user to remove, their apps also pollute the hell out of my [company's] logs and their toolbar plugin makes corrupt requests to pages we don't even have. The best we can figure is that some mechanism is "guessing" what URLs would be the best for the user. That or it's trying to spider our site following the user's trails.

      I admit I have a personal bias in case you couldn't figure that out ;) but products like these are bad for the user, bad for sites the user visits, and bad for the software (especially freeware, remember that word?) industry as a whole. They make it hard for anyone to really trust the software they want to download and use is free of spy and adware.
  • by Nimrangul ( 599578 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:55PM (#12379583) Journal
    On byhalf of all geeks with coworkers or family members: Excellent.

    I hate having to spend hours a week cleaning people's dying machines of these damned things, they can completely make a system useless in less than a month with some of the less intelligent users out there.

    • On behalf of all geeks who earn an excellent living cleaning spyware/adware: Keep 'em coming!
    • by Indras ( 515472 ) on Friday April 29, 2005 @06:21AM (#12381694)
      I hate having to spend hours a week cleaning people's dying machines of these damned things, they can completely make a system useless in less than a month with some of the less intelligent users out there.

      Surely you meant less experienced or less knowledgeable computer users. One of my clients owns a law firm, makes big bucks, and can easily hold his end of a complicated philosophical debate at the dinner table. But, he somehow can't seem to keep spy/ad/malware off his machine. But you assume he is less intelligent than you or I.

      Now that's elitism.
      • It's not elitism if you've explained to a person what they do wrong and how to avoid further issues, yet they call you back a month later because they can no longer use Windows cause, "it's all messed up," it's calling it as it is.

        If you explain to someone how to properly use Windows Update (as in not just ignoring that little icon on the bottom right) and yet they still do not do it, it shows signs of lacking intellect, or at the least comprehension skills.

        If you explain that downloading flash animation

  • Amazingly.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theJerk242 ( 778433 )
    'Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance,' Spitzer said. 'These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.'"

    There are still people who have power in this country that are still sane.
  • Decisions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:56PM (#12379594) Journal
    Now this is the government I want.
  • by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:57PM (#12379599)
    If Spitzer puts spyware companies out of business, people won't switch to Apple anymore. This is all a conspiracy by Spitzer to drive down the price of my AAPL stock.

    Mark my words Spitzer: I will bury you!

  • Spyware is hell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlackEyedSceva ( 798150 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:59PM (#12379609)
    I do agree with this one. I find it completely unfair that I have to run Adaware Pro, Microsoft Antispyware, and Spybot just to get around the internet. We as the consumer should be treated with more respect. Buying a program with spyware in it is almost as bad as if one were to go to buy a sandwich and it had the cold virus in it. I am sure the government would have a problem with that. Why not take more initiative with this too?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:01PM (#12379627)
      I do agree with this one. I find it completely unfair that I have to run Adaware Pro, Microsoft Antispyware, and Spybot just to browse hardcore-porn and warez sites.

      Fixed that for you. It's funny cuz it's true.
      • Re:Spyware is hell (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BlackEyedSceva ( 798150 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:09PM (#12379679)
        While those are a major source of spyware and adware, it is hard to avoid problems when you are using public computers at a school. High School kids seem to find emoticon programs, search bars, and mouse pointer software amazing. It's to bad those like to bring along there freinds Alexia, Gator, and Bonzai Buddy.
        • by Mycroft_VIII ( 572950 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:35PM (#12380116) Journal
          Believe me it's not all porn sites and such that dish out the spyware.
          I've cleaned it off machines that got infected because a 12year old Wrastling fan VISITED some 'fan' site.
          I watched the re-infection try to happen, his mom had heard the same story it was all from porn sites and figured her son had hit 'that age' (peuberty to ten minutes after death for most of us :) ).
          To prove to his mom that's not what he was doing he showed us each of the sites he went to. When he hit this fan site the blocker I was using at the time went nuts with about 8 attempts to infect, two of them would have worked without any further action than simply viewing the site in pre-sp2 xp.
          These days it's more often the aforementioned smilies and cursors and some simular crap.

          Mycroft
      • Re:Spyware is hell (Score:3, Informative)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )
        >browse hardcore-porn and warez sites.

        I dont know why porn sites get a bad rap. The one's I'm familiar with usually want my cash, not my browsing history. Its fairly common in the web porn industry to have some kind of monthly "adult pass" option payable by credit card.

        The worst offenders I've seen are:

        1. Download.com : probably the biggest spyware vector out there. Yes, I heard they are now zero-tolerance, but thats about 2 years too late.

        2. P2P apps. Bearshare, limewire, Kazaa, etc.

        3. Free crapp
    • Re:Spyware is hell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:11PM (#12379690)
      I find it completely unfair that I have to run Adaware Pro, Microsoft Antispyware, and Spybot just to get around the internet.
      You don't -- you can choose to run Mac OS or another *nix instead.
    • by eobanb ( 823187 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:19PM (#12379742) Homepage
      Idiocy leads to Microsoft. Microsoft leads to spyware. Spyware leads to low bandwidth. Low bandwidth leads to buffering. I sense much idiocy in you.
  • Finally (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:59PM (#12379612)
    the goverment accually does something to protect our rights online

    us 3
    them 834
  • I hope (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:59PM (#12379614) Journal
    I hope that they prosecute them for fraudulent business practices... nothing else really.

    If they are prosecuted for frustrating users, and causing machines to perform poorly, woe be unto the poor programmers of the world...

    hey.. wait a min, if they did that, then Gill Bates if phuqued!!!
    • >...then Gill Bates if phuqued!!!

      I hope next he prosecutes you for the frustration you caused me by your spelling.
  • Verdict? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boobavon ( 857902 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @09:59PM (#12379615)
    The real question is whether or not they get convicted. Yay for spitzer having the cojones, but there's still the whole legal portion to get through. Notwithstanding i hope they go bankrupt, i'm tired of running adaware on my parents computer...
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:01PM (#12379621)
    'These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.'

    As a matter of fact, I once had a run-in with exactly one of those spyware programs that frustrate your efforts to remove it from your computer. Mind you, this wasn't on any of my computers, which are Linux, FreeBSD, or Mac boxes. It was a secretary's computer at work, running Windows XP. Unfortunately, they still haven't listened to me about migrating away from that.

    Turns out, this secretary went to some website using Internet Explorer, which we constantly tell people not to use. The site automatically installed some software without her knowledge. The complaint was that her computer was lagging and running significantly slower than normal. I checked the Registry, which should be called the Madnesstry, and found under various Startup locations that there were some ten similar programs running. I deleted all of the associated keys. Turns out, the software installs a daemon that watches the registry and reinstalls the key the instant you remove it. Trying to shut down that daemon or delete the actual EXE files from the computer is a futile effort. The damn thing monitors its own existance in every way that you can imagine.

    Finally, I blew everything off the computer, installed Windows from CD, and personally locked down that box as far as you can say that Windows can be locked down, which isn't very far. Internet Explorer is hidden everywhere, and I actually put Internet Explorer icons that simply launch a window that says this computer is not authorized to launch internet explorer. Instead, there is Firefox and Opera to choose from. I also went ahead and created a blacklist of sites from here to Timbuktu. That solved most of the problems.

    • Two words (Score:4, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:09PM (#12379677)
      Safe Mode.

      Nuking the site from orbit is not the only option.

      • Re:Two words (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bradleyland ( 798918 )
        winlogon.exe

        Getting rid of the latest variants of the VX2 type spyware is a non-trivial process. These variants attach themselves to processes that run even in safe mode.

        From a time efficiency standpoint, nukes from orbit look awefully attractive.
      • Re:Two words (Score:3, Interesting)

        I'm beginning to think that VMware ACE or VMware Workstation or something like that would be a good idea. This is the scheme I thought of for the office:

        All files are already stored on a server, which makes the files available to Windows users via Samba. This server runs FreeBSD and never crashes. :-) All user-generated files are supposed to be placed here, and we discourage saving on individual desktops because it's too time consuming to back them up. So they're imaged from the day the OS and the apps are

      • Three words ! (Score:3, Informative)

        And don't forget Sysinternals [sysinternals.com] (many thanks to the Slashdotter who originally clued me up on them)

        Their Process Explorer is what the Windows Task Manager should have been. Not only does it show you ALL the running processes but you can kill ANY of them (none of this crap where Windows says "Sorry that's a system process you can't kill it" WTF ? I'm logged in as adminstrator I'll kill what I bloody well want to thankyou very much)

        So if you're gutting spyware out of a box then I'd first use this to kill
    • by drsmack1 ( 698392 ) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:10PM (#12379687)
      You wiped a computer because of spyware? What would you say if someone wiped their Linux box because Mozilla would not start.

      Just about the same thing. I have not found any spyware that could not be removed. Maybe you actually have to look something up on the internet; but I guess it is a better story if "it was so bad that I had to wipe the box!".

      Check out:

      http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/files/killbox.php [bleepingcomputer.com]

      and ...

      http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_description/ 0,fid,23258,00.asp [pcworld.com]

      And read a bit:

      http://www.pchell.com/support/spyware.shtml [pchell.com]

      Not so hard if you really *want* to be able to do it.
      • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:27PM (#12379771)
        There have been several instances where I have "wiped" a company computer over spyware. Sometimes it is faster to nuke it (especially if you have an image backup) than it is to fix the problem. We do regular backups of all files neccessary to conduct business. I can completely redo a machine and have that employee ready to work at full capacity in about 30 minutes. If it looks like investigating and removing the spyware will take longer than that, the user gets a reinstall. Their work material will be completetly unaffected. A better idea would be to lock down these boxen a bit more but company politics prohibit such a move.
        • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:56PM (#12379916) Homepage
          It's not even just the time, it's whose time it is. Slip a DVD in, start the restore and walk away. Come back 30 minutes later and find the computer fully restored. This doesn't require much of human involvement, and even that is a SOP - and even then you know beforehand how long it will take and how well it will be done.

          Now compare that dumb restore to a manual repair. You have to be very well versed in spyware removal and must know where all the latest tripwires are installed (like the grandparent says.) I have more important things to do than to learn about malicious software, about every release of it. Also when you start you have no idea how long it will take and whether you will succeed, completely or partially. Also if there are many different spyware programs the repair time also grows - and finally how do you know that at some point no spyware is left? Only because you can't find any?

          If you are at home and have nothing else to do - sure, read about the spyware until your eyes start falling out, and then try to remove the thing - and once you fail, try and try again. But if you are in a business setting, just reimage the box in half an hour and be done with it.

          • Not to mention that once it's infected, you don't ever really "trust" that computer again. If you've got confidential information on it, it's often easier and safer to wipe the thing and reinstall from scratch.
          • "But if you are in a business setting, just reimage the box in half an hour and be done with it."

            Get the bl00dy data of the thing first though... ie hunt down and suck out the .pst files and other stuff the user will scream about. And don't forget the baby pictures and their wallpapers as well...

      • In this case a company computer was known to have been compromised. Though I doubt it's the case here in some situations security means a complete re-format and re-install to make shure company secretes (or customer data, nuke launch codes, whatever) are properly secured.
        Also if he's IT taking such drastic action might be a ploy to emphasize to the boss how BAD running IE can be in the corporate situation ("see, you just lost data and had to pay me for hours of work because a known security risk was al
      • Standard practice when a box has been compromized is to wipe it all, since you never know what else is hiding. Removal tools only remove what's in their database.

        I've tried to wipe spyware in safe mode, using MS AntiSpyware, Ad-Aware and Spybot and still couldn't remove some parts. That took me over an hour and it was still a waste.

        Some forms of spyware now attack the kernel, which means that safe mode is no longer a reliable method to remove spyware.

        My current cleanup strategy is one sweep using a Bart'
    • Don't get laid much do you?
    • Deny access to "Everyone".

      This is usually much better than removing stuff,
      because the app won't get reinstalled later.
  • by philovivero ( 321158 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:03PM (#12379641) Homepage Journal
    He's the only politician that makes headlines that I've liked in more than a decade.
  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:04PM (#12379642) Homepage
    While I think Splitzer can be a bit overzealous and grandstanding (plus laying groundwork for his run for political office), I can't think of a better group of companies to go after than *&^%$#@! spyware companies. For those interested in some great detailed info about these cockroaches, take a look at Ben Edelman's web site [benedelman.org] ... where he also indentifies the folks who finance 'em.
  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:04PM (#12379647)
    Some repair shops blame spyware for more than half the trouble they're seeing.

    Uh, isn't that the point of their business? They're a REPAIR shop. Next thing you know they're going to complain about "lost business" resulting from the suit.

    • Isn't the goal of the Police Department to rid the city of crime, at the risk of putting itself out of work?
      • Isn't the goal of the Police Department to rid the city of crime, at the risk of putting itself out of work?

        In my neck of the woods (SF bay area), the goal seems to be writing up parking violations.

        While fighting crime is worthy of mention, it generates no income for anybody. On the contrary. It ends up costing money.

  • by fugas ( 619989 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:06PM (#12379658) Homepage
    Seems like Intermix's stock took a hard hit [yahoo.com] due to this news today.
  • New York Only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roofus ( 15591 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:09PM (#12379672) Homepage
    I'm surprised nowhere in the writeup does it mention that Spitzer works for the New York State government, not the US Federal Government. There is a difference.

    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/ [state.ny.us]

    The Attorney General of the US would never stand up for citizens.
  • by katana ( 122232 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:10PM (#12379685) Homepage
    'These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.'

    Great. There goes Minesweeper.

  • by NoGuffCheck ( 746638 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:11PM (#12379689)
    its high time we had a hangin!

    seriously though, Perhaps it's fate that today, Arpil the Twenty ninth, we will once again fight for our freedom. Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression. But from assholes that bundle spyware with free screensavers. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. From this day on, the twenty ninth day of April will no longer be remembered as an American holiday (not that it ever has) but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We will live on. We will survive.

    /rant
    • by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:57PM (#12379922)
      seriously though, Perhaps it's fate that today, Arpil the Twenty ninth, we will once again fight for our freedom. Not from tyranny, persecution or oppression. But from assholes that bundle spyware with free screensavers. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. From this day on, the twenty ninth day of April will no longer be remembered as an American holiday (not that it ever has) but as the day that all of mankind declared we will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We will live on. We will survive.

      Is it bad that I instantly had a vision of Eliot Spitzer uploading a virus from his Powerbook to the Intermix Corporate Headquarters, which he accessed with a stolen Intermix scout ship piloted by a fast-talking African-American costar?
  • Thank you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by showardkid ( 823639 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:11PM (#12379693) Journal
    Seriously, people: let's take a look at how perspectives are these days:

    Whenever a hacker (or cracker, distinction here http://searchwindowssecurity.techtarget.com/tip/1, 289483,sid45_gci998037,00.html [techtarget.com].) breaks into corporate networks, he's a CRIMINAL, and his purpose is evil. Even if he does not do anything that damages productivity, purported "loss of funds" can get him imprisoned.

    Contrarily, when a corporation with no morals or respect for users releases a spyware program for research/marketing with illegal methods, Advertisement, Data mining, etc., no one tends to lift a finger. I salute Spitzer, and hope that this sets some sort of precedent to protect consumers and businesses from these sorts of programs that waste productivity and generally piss people off.

  • by Tezkah ( 771144 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:16PM (#12379719)
    It's worth noting that Intermix also runs the popular "networking" website MySpace [myspace.com]. This site is used by lots of people, and many bands have pages set up on there. Billy Corgan [myspace.com] of Smashing Pumpkins fame even has a profile on there.

    Makes you wonder what they're doing with the information people put on there.
    • They're mapping a Big Brother database cataloguing the movements, activities, and social networks of trendy scenester teeny-boppers across international boundaries, working tirelessly to slow the influx of shoegazer music and needlessly-spiky hair past American borders.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:17PM (#12379728)

    First off, I'm as happy as everyone else someone is finally going after these scumbags.

    But at the risk of casting a dark cloud over the whole affair, Mr. Spitzer is sueing Intermix, not arresting them.

    So...anyone know exactly what they're exactly being sued for? "Secretly installing software" is a little vague for a legal charge.

    Another question. Why sue? He's the Attorney General. Why not prosecute instead?

    So can anyone with some legal insight shed a little light here, so we know how happy to be?

    • Whoops (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:31PM (#12379785)

      Poor practice to respond to one's own post, but there are a few more details further into the article.

      Spitzer's civil suit accuses Intermix of violating state General Business Law provisions against false advertising and deceptive business practices. He also accuses them of trespass under New York common law.

      Ok, that's better but could still use a little clarification. Trespass? Is that the closest approximation NY law has to hacking into someone's computer? Usually it's some sort of wiretapping law that gets called into play.

      Still would like to know why he's not prosecuting instead of arresting. We're always howling about how vague the DCMA and laws like it are...how vague they are and how they can nail anyone because they're so broad.

      So...can't we use these rotten open-ended anti hacking ??AA laws to nail some actual criminals, rather than teenagers with big MP3 collections?

      It'd be a great way to at least use these lousy laws to our advantage a bit before they go away. And they will too, once it gets demonstrated that they can be used to bust businessmen as well as teenagers.

      • Frankly, "free" means "free". If I gave away a non-computer product, say a t-shirt, if I advertise it as "free", you'd expect it to be actually "free".

        If it worked you would not expect that "free" means, buried 6 ft deep in the EULA, that I can come to your house, listen to your phone conversations, shout ads under your windows, switch your TV channels and read your mail. That's just not what "free" means. And if any company tried to pull that stunt, they'd have a fraudulent advertising lawsuit on their ha
    • IANAL, but Spitzer has roughly similar powers to the Attorney general of the U.S. (can bring both civil and criminal cases to court), and I think most other state attorney generals don't have that power granted to them.

      He has the authority to sue under N.Y. antitrust, civil, and criminal lawsuits. By bringing a civil suit, he can avoid the pitfall that Giulani's (the previous Attorney General) successes kind of missed -- In a criminal case, the companies could appeal, drag it out, and you allow an illegal
    • Simple:

      It has to be made apparent that you're going to lose money as opposed to gain it in a pursuit that entails intruding on one's digital rites.

      Legal injunction doesn't mean anything anymore. It's something that actually affects the bottom line that's going to make for change, if any.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:32PM (#12379788)
    In a very revealing article, it has been found that at least three educational retirement funds are invested with Intermix:

    http://castlecops.com/article-5943-nested-0-0.html [castlecops.com]

    TIAA-CREF

    CALIFORNIA STATE TEACHERS RET SYS

    NEW YORK ST TCHR RTRMT

  • by the_enigma_1983 ( 742079 ) <enigma@ s t r u d e l - h o und.com> on Thursday April 28, 2005 @10:49PM (#12379879) Homepage
    Can't we do something about the people who advertise through spyware? If no one pays the spyware companies, the whole thing falls through. Plus the advertisers might have a reputation to maintain, unlike spyware companies who no one knows about.
  • First schools don't disclose students' info to the RIAA, and now the spyware companies get sued.

    What a glorious day :)
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:41PM (#12380158)
    If the companies clean up their act, they wont get labeled "Spyware" anymore.

    Steps to take:
    1.Make it possible to remove the program 100% without leaving any traces on the system
    2.Dont mess with system files (e.g. winsock settings like new.net does)
    3.Dont deliberatly hide or obfusicate the processes, dlls and files that belong to the spyware program
    4.Be open about what the program does and what it sends back.
    and 5.Dont try and get your program installed on a users machine without their permission (installing alongside other software is fine if its clear that installing x program installs y adware too)
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Thursday April 28, 2005 @11:47PM (#12380191) Homepage
    Intermix Media changed names from eUniverse last summer.

    That name is more familiar from a lot of spam, as they operate the flowgo.com / smilepop.com spam networks.

    Once scum, always scum, I guess.
  • by RPoet ( 20693 ) on Friday April 29, 2005 @01:55AM (#12380705) Journal
    'Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance,' Spitzer said. 'These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.'

    Why do I so often see spyware being framed like this? I've read many articles in the popular press about spyware. They always say that you should remove spyware because such software can make your computer slower.

    Hello? It's called spyware. It's sitting there spying on you, for God's sake, and your only worry is supposed to be that your computer is slower than it should be? Are people really that indifferent to their personal privacy these days? Why aren't people outraged that some program has sneaked itself into their system and is now sniffing all of their network traffic?
  • by OceanDiver ( 879956 ) on Friday April 29, 2005 @03:50AM (#12381229) Homepage
    Ever wondered why you see so many banners for screensavers wherever you go on the Internet?

    These people pour in several hundreds thousand dollars per month into advertisement for "free" screensavers! Even though the cost of acquisition may be up to $2-3 per installation, they can still make a couple of million a month from selling the souls and registration data of the poor gullible old ladies installing these things. Not to mention giving them a healthy does of adware/spyware for additional profit.

    Unfortunately, Intermix is not even the worst, there are bigger players on the market. This kind of heavy marketing makes it quite tough for us honest small developers to compete, and it even hurts us by scaring away people who got their fingers burnt already.

    Go on Spitzer!
  • by maxconfus ( 522536 ) on Friday April 29, 2005 @07:57AM (#12382239)
    If I was Intermix, I would be nervous. Spitzer the NY AG is able to go after this California company using what is called the Martin Act.
    The push of the Martin Act is to arm the New York attorney general to combat financial fraud. It empowers him to subpoena any document he wants from anyone doing business in the state; to keep an investigation totally secret or to make it totally public; and to choose between filing civil or criminal charges whenever he wants. People called in for questioning during Martin Act investigations do not have a right to counsel or a right against self-incrimination. Combined, the act's powers exceed those given any regulator in any other state. Now for the scary part: To win a case, the AG doesn't have to prove that the defendant intended to defraud anyone, that a transaction took place, or that anyone actually was defrauded. Plus, when the prosecution is over, trial lawyers can gain access to the hoards of documents that the act has churned up and use them as the basis for civil suits. "It's the legal equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction," said a lawyer at a major New York firm who represents defendants in Martin Act cases (and who didn't want his name used because he feared retribution by Spitzer). "The damage that can be done under the statute is unlimited."
    I agree with the lawsuit against intermix. Sneak software installs and that very annoying FlowGo email newsletter suck. If fraud can be established then whether it occurred on the Internet or over the phone or in the cash register at the local grocery store then it should be put down. On the other hand, I am not sure how much better I feel knowing what the martin act can do. Although, I doubt Spitzer would have been able to stop Wall Street dead in its tracks without the Martin.
  • Trespass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by samldanach ( 823455 ) on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:21AM (#12382502)
    One of the things that caught my attention was that Spitzer was charging them with trespass, under the common law definition. This has two interesting ramifications. First, that programs running on your computer are considered to be on your property. The precedent that this sets is non-trivial. Does it mean that damage to data on your computer can be covered by your homeowner's insurance? Is it still considered to be trespass when it's on a laptop, connected at a hotspot outside your home? And, what ramifications does that have for your online presence? If the spyware is trespassing on my property, am I considered to be on a business' property when I'm visiting their site? Can I sue the business for giving me the spyware, in the same way you can sue someone for inadequate physical safety precautions? Also, the application of common law to spyware is interesting. Essentially, that's saying, "This is obviously against the spirit of the law, even though it isn't covered by a specific law to date." (Yes, the concept of common law is significantly more complex, but I'm a geek, not a lawyer.) Given that online threats are evolving far faster than any legislature can keep up with, this might be an interesting precedent for still prosecuting, or at least suing, those who perpetrate such threats.

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