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Spyware Vendor Sued Over 'Invasive' Software

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New York State has gone on the attack against spyware and adware by filing a lawsuit against a Los Angeles-based marketing company that allegedly installed "invasive" software onto consumers' computers without proper notice as part of free software downloads.

In an announcement today, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he had filed the lawsuit against Intermix Media, a 6-year-old Internet marketing company.

The lawsuit (a downloadable PDF version is available) alleges that New York consumers received about 3.7 million downloads of free software from the company's Web sites, which offer screen savers, games, cursors, and other small programs. It also alleges that consumers were not adequately notified that the software contained invasive spyware and adware applications that would create pop-up windows, redirect Web browsers to other Web sites, and obstruct the users' online experiences.

"Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance," Spitzer said in the statement. "These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity, and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers. These issues can serve to be a hindrance to the growth of e-commerce."

An Intermix spokesperson could not be reached for comment today, but the company issued a statement saying spyware and adware distributions were in its past.

"Intermix does not promote or condone spyware, and remains committed to putting this legacy issue behind it as soon as practicable," Christopher Lipp, senior vice president and general counsel at Intermix, said in the statement. "Many of the practices being challenged were instituted under prior leadership, and Intermix has been voluntarily and proactively improving these applications and related consumer disclosure and functionality for some time. In an abundance of caution, we voluntarily ceased distribution of the applications at issue earlier this month."
Lipp said Intermix "has always been committed to protecting consumer privacy."

"We expect to continue our discussions with the New York Attorney General's Office and are still hopeful of reaching an appropriate and amicable resolution," he said. continued>>

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