Zango Still Not Compliant and FTC Shuts ERG Ventures Down

Thought I would do a wrap-up of today?s spyware and adware stories, combine all of these slack jaws in one post of kicking their ass goodness. Ben Edelman posted his findings on Zango today, and surprise, surprise, Zango is still not compliant with the FTC requirements of the settlement. But who really thought they would be, I mean, the business model is eventually going to go away, if merchants who advertise through spyware or adware would actually start to care about their customers, and affiliates who actually force this stuff on users computers would get cut off by Google and other search engines, like normal webmasters do all the time, the money would dry up and they would blow away.

Ben and Eric Howes did all the testing this month, so this is not old stuff, this is stuff they found in about ten hours of work, something any merchant or official could find by just surfing some of these sites. Things like not having proper disclosure, or showing the disclosure after installation, or no disclosure whatsoever, legacy programs without the proper installation or un-installation tools, deceptive practices leading to installs and unlabeled advertising, all of which violate the terms of the settlement with the FTC.

More broadly, we believe intensive ongoing monitoring will be required to assure that Zango actually complies with the settlement. We have spent 3+ years following Zango’s repeated promises of “reform,” and we have first-hand experience with the wide variety of techniques Zango and its partners have used to place software onto users’ PCs. Testing these methods requires more than black-letter contracts and agreements; it requires hands-on testing of actual infected PCs and the scores of diverse infection mechanisms Zango’s partners devise. To assure that Zango actually complies with the agreement, we think the FTC will need to allocate its investigatory resources accordingly. We’ve spent approximately roughly 10 hours on the investigations leading to the results above, and we’ve uncovered these examples as well as various others. With dozens or hundreds of hours, we think we could find many more surviving Zango installations in violation of the proposed settlement’s requirements. We think the FTC ought to find these installations, or require that Zango do so, and then ought to see that the associated files are entirely removed from the web. Source: Ben Edleman

Zango doesn’t care, I believe everything they do is just to delay the inevitable and to soak up more money while they still can, if the fines imposed in the future are anything like this last one, then they will have plenty of money left to retire on I am sure, or to start some other shady means of making money. Nothing they say comes true, as far as I have seen, in their reply to the settlement they have said they have been compliant since January 1, 2006, which, as you can see from this article is not true at all. The FTC needs to take a look for themselves, it’s out there and is sure easy to find.

Speaking of the FTC, they announced last week that a U.S. district court has shut down a Web operation that is accused of secretly loading spyware and other malevolent software onto millions of computers after promising users free screen savers and video files. Now where have we heard of this before?

The FTC accused ERG Ventures and an affiliate with tricking consumers into downloading a piece of spyware called Media Motor, which installs itself and downloads other malware.

The malware was difficult for consumers to remove, the FTC said. The malware installed by Media Motor:

  • Changed consumers’ home pages
  • Added difficult-to-remove toolbars that display disruptive pop-up ads in consumers’ Internet browsers
  • Tracked Internet activity
  • Generated disruptive pop-up ads that were occasionally sexually explicit
  • Added advertising icons to consumers’ Windows desktop
  • Degraded computer performance
  • Disabled antispyware and antivirus software

Source: PC World

the complaint names ERG Ventures, doing business as ERG Ventures LLC2, Media Motor, Joysticksavers.com, and PrivateinPublic.com, and its principal operators, Elliott S. Cameron, Robert A. Davidson II, and Gary E. Hill, as well as Taylor. They ask that anyone who has had any experience with them to email them at mediamotor@ftc.gov.

So, looks like it’s going to be another good day for the good guys.

This has also been posted at RealTechNews.com, Spyware Confidential and Faill.com