Bonzi Settles With FTC; Webmasters, Subscribers to Be Alerted

Rhett Pardon
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission settled this week with Bonzi Software Inc. over claims its InternetALERT software reduces the risks of Internet attacks.

In the proposed consent order, the company and owners Joe and Jay Bonzi agreed to refrain from making future misrepresented claims about the security or privacy attributes of the company’s software products.

It also requires San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based Bonzi to notify current InternetALERT subscribers of the FTC proceeding and allow them to cancel their service and receive a prorated refund.

Bonzi also must send a copy of the order to third-party webmasters advertising or selling InternetALERT on their behalf and maintain records to assist the FTC in monitoring their compliance.

The FTC alleged that Bonzi’s software provides only limited protections for computers and the information stored in them.

The regulators’ complaint alleged that Bonzi’s software, which costs $49 for a one-year subscription, was advertised through button, banner and pop-up ads and on www.bonzi.com.

The ads claimed that, without InternetALERT, hackers can “Steal your Credit Card & Personal Information; Read Your Email; Plant a Virus or Worm; or Steal Online Banking Information!”

The advertisments directed consumers to “Download InternetALERT & Protect Yourself Now.”

According to the FTC, Bonzi’s advertising claimed that InternetALERT could provide consumers with the “comfort and security of knowing that no one from the Internet can access [their] computer[s] without [their] knowledge or permission!”

Regulators said that InternetALERT doesn’t provide other security features that can significantly reduce the risk to data stored in computers, such as features that prevent personally identifiable information stored in a computer from being sent over the Internet without a consumer’s knowledge or consent, or that provide computer virus protection.

XBiz was not able to reach Bonzi Software or its owners for comment on this story.

FTC commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the proposed consent order.

The FTC’s proposed cease-and-desist ruling is In re Bonzi Software Inc., No. 042-3016.