Spitzer Files Suit Against Spyware Firm

Michael Hayes
ALBANY, N.Y. — Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is battling spyware once again, this time by filing suit in state Supreme Court against Direct Revenue, alleging that the company installed pop-up programs on millions of computers that monitor the activities of users.

According to Spitzer, the New York-based company passed the spyware along to users without their knowledge via browsers, games and other software.

Spitzer said that his investigators documented 21 websites with Direct Revenue downloads called VX2, Aurora and OfferOptimizer. Once the downloads were in place, Spitzer said the company could track users’ online activities and direct pop-ups. Spitzer went on to say that users who attempted to remove the spyware often found the task impossible because the program could reinstall itself.

Spitzer brought the civil suit under a state law that forbids deceptive business practices and false advertising.

"These applications are deceptive and unfair to consumers, bad for businesses that rely on efficient networks to do their jobs, and bad for online retailers that need consumers to trust and enjoy their online experience," Spitzer said. "We will continue to side with consumers in their fight for control of their desktops."

The lawsuit against Direct Revenue also names former CEO Josh Abram. According to Spitzer, Abram told a distributor in an email that "we have a very stealthy version of our adware product which we 're happy to give u . . . Don't worry. If we do a deal a build together these will not be caught. [sic]"

In October, Spitzer settled a similar suit against Intermix Media. In that case, Intermix agreed to pay $7.5 million in penalties, while its former CEO, Brad Greenspan, agreed to personally pay $750,000 in penalties.