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Consumer Group Asks FTC To Sue Spyware Company

A pair of consumer groups today filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau urging the agencies to consider filing civil lawsuits against Integrated Search Technologies (IST), easily one of the most egregious spyware companies in terms of its aggressive and unethical installation practices.

The complaints were filed by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a Washington, D.C., consumer technology group, and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic. The complaint centers on IST and several of its affiliates -- specifically, ContextPlus, Meridian Business Ventures, Surf Accuracy and Internet Optimizer; CDT said the entities "used deceptive techniques to dupe Internet users into downloading software they did not ask to receive in exchange for little or no benefit."

You don't have to look far to find evidence of IST's online footprint, as it has managed to install its various toolbars on thousands of computers worldwide.  The toolbars either hijack a user's browser and/or Internet search functionality, and/or bombard the user with a barrage of pop-up ads for porn sites. has an apt description of how IST's software normally gets on computers: "An 'aggressive' downloader is usually used: if you refuse the download, a JavaScript alert complains that it won't take no for an answer and opens the download window again."

The last time CDT raised a stink about IST, adware maker 180Solutions decided it was a smart move to terminate its business relationship with the company. In an interview with 180 a couple of weeks ago,  180 executives told me that move alone would slash IST's revenues by at least one-third. 180 maintains, however, that installs of its software that were bundled with IST's numerous slimy porn pop-up and search engine-hijacking toolbars accounted for less than 10 percent of 180's installs.

By Brian Krebs  |  November 3, 2005; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Fraud  
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Next: Critical Windows Patch Coming Next Week


Good! I hope they get sued right into receivership!! It's this type of Nazi marketing that is poisoning the WWW & turning it from something wonderful, with unlimited potential, into just another sleazy ad medium destined to be ignored as much as possible.

Posted by: Eric B. | November 4, 2005 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Again it's not mentioned that only Microsoft's browser Internet Explorer is affected by hikacking and stuff,Mozilla, Opera etc. have no problem with that.

Posted by: Ankman | November 5, 2005 1:15 AM | Report abuse

What about Sony's DRM spyware. Why doesn't the FTC prosecute Sony. It has been shown that Sony DRM not only calls home with what you are doing with their music but also collects information about programs, pc configuration and settings. When combined with Sony's stealth software and the big security hole they create on the computers of people who play their DRM protected CDs, you get the impression that Sony has just taken control of a lot of PCs. How are we to know what our computers are really doing? Are they being coerced ( by periodic downloads and updates ) by Sony to do more than Digital Rights Management?

Posted by: DaveL | November 15, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

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