TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Major Advertisers Caught in Spyware Net

Major Advertisers Caught in Spyware Net

Monty Solomon (
Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:59:53 -0400

By MICHAEL GORMLEY Associated Press Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Unwanted software slithered into Patti McMann's
home computer over the Internet and unleashed an annoying barrage of
pop-up ads that sometimes flashed on her screen faster than she could
close them.

Annoying, for sure. But the last straw came a year ago when the
pop-ups began plugging such household names as J.C. Penney Co. and
Capital One Financial Corp., companies McMann expected to know better.

Didn't they realize that trying to reach people through spyware and
its ad-delivering subset, called adware, would only alienate them?

"It irritated the heck out of me," said McMann, a 45-year-old former
corporate executive from Klamath Falls, Ore. "It took a week to take
off every little piece of crap that was put on my computer. Every time
I rebooted, it started to come up again."

Pop-up ads carried by spyware and adware aren't just employed by
fringe companies hawking dubious wares _ such as those tricky messages
that tell you your computer has been corrupted.

You can count some big tech companies among its users, including
broadband phone provider Vonage Holdings Corp., online employment
agency Monster Worldwide Inc. and online travel agencies Expedia Inc., Inc. and Orbitz LLC.

These companies acknowledge they've used adware to reach potential
customers, though they say they shun any programs that monitor online
surfing or extract personal information.


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